Osceola’s annual Christmas kickoff event is in need of a new sponsor and workforce.

Light Up Osceola, which has served as Santa’s official arrival downtown, will no longer be hosted by the chamber.

In an email message to members, Lisa Erickson, president of the Osceola Chamber and Main Street Board, outlined the organization’s reasons for stepping back from the event. 

“Our nonprofit organization is experiencing monumental changes in leadership, volunteerism and financial support,” Erickson said. 

“The economic upheaval from the pandemic disrupted and challenged our operations. At the same time, it has also provided opportunities to really examine our mission and model. Like many businesses faced with a shortage of resources including staff, our organization has to make difficult decisions to continue to survive in an ever-changing world,” Erickson said.

“Our organization is traditionally powered by business owners who are now experiencing demands and employee shortages like never before. In turn, this impacts our ability to continue offering many of the community-focused events. Too many events fall on our already underfunded staff and overworked volunteers. For the very same reasons, the Fall Decorating for businesses will be somewhat curtailed this year,” Erickson said.

“In this economic recovery time, businesses are looking for solutions to their challenges. Chambers are moving from being ‘event coordinators’ to ‘solution providers’ that help businesses thrive and grow. As much as we all love Light Up Osceola, the time involved in planning, coordinating volunteers, fundraising for an event this size takes away from our mission’s work. With limited resources, we need to focus on the real and present needs of our businesses,” Erickson said.

“We are committed to the business development side of things—addressing tough issues and continuing to: attract new investment in this community, attract the workforce pipeline that is greatly needed, work with industry partners to solve housing shortages and help create an appealing downtown for our village to flourish, Erickson said.

Erickson’s email invited another organization to “step forward and run the Light Up Osceola event. Typically, this event is scheduled for the first Saturday in December.”

Erickson said the Chamber is focusing on “adapting the organization so that we make the much-needed transitions we will be able to: effectively work with the resources we have, continue to do our core mission’s work, plan for a sustainable future and ultimately bring more value to our growing community.”

Erickson concluded by saying “These are not easy decisions and we ask for your understanding, help and support during this time.”

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