Kat Florence offering beautification grants to downtown Elora businesses for Christmas lights

Kogan: ‘Our goal is for a more enchanting downtown’

ELORA – Christmas could be brilliant in Elora this year if downtown businesses decide to take advantage of a beatification grant offered by Kat Florence.

Kristy Hillis and Don Kogan are the people behind Kat Florence Canada Company and in their efforts to beautify downtown Elora, Kat Florence is offering $1,000 grants to offset the cost of hanging outdoor lights through the winter.

The catch – they have to book through Gladiator Pro Wash, the company Hillis and Kogan used last year to light up their own properties in the village.

They have several historic buildings in the core and the impact of the lighting was considerable.

They hope by offering the grant, business owners will light up their own stores and Metcalfe Street from Mill to Geddes to David streets and portions of East and West Mill streets will be lovely, enticing and inviting for those who live, work and shop in Elora.

“Our goal is for a more enchanting downtown,” Kogan said in a phone interview.

“We want to lead by example, to motivate and inspire businesses to participate. But no one is obligated.”

They want participants to work with Gladiator Pro Wash for a consistent, high-quality look that will stretch throughout downtown.

“It gets dark early but when the snow is falling and the lights are lit, the whole town will become magical,” Kogan said.

“We know lights are expensive, but they attract humans. We want to support the community in this way.”

Kogan said there are about 100 properties that could take advantage of the offer. 

If they all do, it would cost Kat Florence about $100,000.

But there’s more to the Kat Florence beautification plan than that.

The couple also has permission from the township to decorate the Green Space for Christmas, so that will be a new area that will get the Kat Florence treatment for the holidays.

And they purchased Francis Lane from the township, and work is underway there to turn it into a cobblestone-looking footpath suitable for pedestrians and occasional outdoor markets and art displays.

Kogan expects Francis Lane will be complete in time for an outdoor Christmas market this year.

Nick Preisenhammer, owner of Gladiator, said he’s ready to receive calls from qualifying businesses.

He’ll come out and look at the building, measure, assess, and return with a few lighting options at various price points. 

The business can then decide which lighting plan they’d like.

Last year was the first year Gladiator engaged in such a big Christmas light project and this year will be even bigger – especially if there’s buy-in from local businesses.

“We learned a lot last year,” he said. “This will be another big year, but I’m confident we can pull it off.”

It will require pre-booking, however. 

Lights will begin to go up right after Halloween and all should be in place before Christmas season really gets underway.

To book a consultation, call Gladiator Pro Wash at 519-226-821-0404 or email info@gladiatorprowash.ca.

Maclean Hann, chair of the Elora BIA, said an email blast went out to members on July 4 so he’s not sure of the reception yet. 

“But the way I see it, this is a very generous gesture to help light up this little village,” he said in a phone interview.

Hann is owner of the Evelyn restaurant, and he had Gladiator do his lights last year and was very impressed.

“There’s just no way the BIA could ever afford to do what Kat Florence is doing,” he said. “It’s truly exciting. There will be a huge amount of buzz.”

The BIA is replacing the wreaths it normally hangs on lamp posts over Christmas as they were becoming worn and tattered, he said.

“So in tandem with the Kat Florence grant program, the holidays will be bright this year.”