Downtown lighting

Ripon Main Street, Inc. is fundraising to install overhead lights above the 200 and 300 blocks of Watson Street in the historic downtown district.


After getting approval from the city earlier this year to install a festive lighting system above Watson Street, Ripon Main Street Inc. has ordered the lights and is fundraising for the project.

The organization has launched a GoFundMe campaign for the project, which aims to “create a more festive atmosphere in the historic district.”

On the fundraiser’s GoFundMe page, Ripon Main Street Executive Director Craig Tebon said Main Street will begin installing the overhead LED lighting system in the coming weeks, which has a total cost of $15,000.

“A series of guide wires will be stretched across the 200 and 300 blocks of Watson Street above the second story windows,” Tebon said. “New LED energy-efficient lights will illuminate the district throughout the year.”

He added that Ripon Main Street has purchased the materials for the lights with the goal of unveiling them during Scoop the Loop Saturday, Aug. 7.


In May, the Ripon Common Council unanimously approved a request from Ripon Main Street to add more festive lighting on the 200 and 300 blocks of Watson Street.

During the meeting, Tebon explained that the lights wouldn’t cost the city anything and would be installed and maintained by Ripon Main Street.

He got the idea to add festive lighting between buildings downtown in addition to facade lighting already on buildings after a visit to downtown Wausau.

Tebon said the lights would be approximately 24 feet above the street, which would put them above any second-story windows and high enough to avoid issues with vehicles.

The lights would be on buildings year-round, with different time spans for illuminating the lights depending on the time of year. Tebon said the goal would be to keep them on from about 4 to 11 p.m. during the winter and from 7 to 11 p.m. in the summer.


Ripon Main Street was 30% of the way toward fulfilling its fundraiser goal of $15,000 as of July 3.

Tebon said the donations have come slower than he would like, but he hopes to still meet the donor goal.

“We need your help to raise the funds to complete this and other downtown beautification projects,” he said.

Ripon Main Street ordered the lights because it wanted to get them set up during downtown’s busy season and before community events like Scoop the Loop, Septemberfest and Dickens of a Christmas, Tebon said.

“It doesn’t make sense to put it up late, and then not not get the benefit from it,” the Main Street manager said. “The other thing was making sure we could actually get it because of all of the supply challenges that are happening right now.”

A few people have sent donations directly to Ripon Main Street, while others have utilized the GoFundMe page, which was designed to help reach individuals that Ripon Main Street doesn’t regularly interact with, Tebon noted.

“We’re grateful for every contribution no matter what size,” he said. “We can’t do this by ourselves; this is a team effort.”

What’s next?

When the lights are fully installed downtown, Tebon said it will provide another attention-grabbing feature to Ripon’s historic downtown.

He noted 6,000 to 7,000 cars a day are going up the hill, using the Highway 23 corridor.

“A lot of those people don’t realize that we have a historic district,” Tebon said. “If we can get somebody to glance down at Watson as they’re passing on Jackson Street past the square, maybe it’ll turn into new customers, or somebody who wants to buy a building or somebody who thinks it’s charming and wants to move here.”

Tebon added there is no cut off date for donations, which can be made directly to Ripon Main Street or by searching for “Downtown Ripon Festive Lighting Project” on

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Phone: 920-748-3017

Mail: 303 Watson St., PO Box 262, Ripon, WI 54971

After getting approval from the city earlier this year to install a festive lighting system above Watson Street, Ripon Main Street Inc. has ordered the lights and is fundraising for the project.

Written By

Joe Schulz served as the reporter of the Green Laker in 2019 and 2020, before being hired as a reporter for the Commonwealth in October 2020. He is from Oshkosh and graduated from UW-Oshkosh in December with a bachelor's degree in journalism.


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