It’s been 50 years since the unique, Christmas bells first brightened Maple Ridge’s downtown streets, but for Owen Fuller, it seems like yesterday.
Fuller, with Fuller-Watson Brand Source Home Furnishings, was involved in the project when the Downtown Merchants Association bought the bells out of Calgary in 1966.
“We bought them cheap because we made the irons [metal framing] ourselves,” Fuller said Wednesday.
“It’s still probably one of the best Christmas decorations in the valley, I think.”
The original cost for the bells was $10,000.
They were displayed along Lougheed Highway between 222nd and 227th streets, as well as down 224th Street, between the highway and Dewdney Trunk Road.
The merchants bought the bells under an agreement that the city would store and install them.
Fuller pointed out that the city actually borrowed the money for the bells and then added a charge to the downtown business taxes to pay off over time.
There wasn’t complete support for the project, though, as businesses along Dewdney Trunk weren’t as enthusiastic and didn’t participate. As a result, there were no bells along Dewdney in the downtown.
Every year, for the past half century, the bells have been brought out of storage in December and hung along the same route.
By 2013, time had taken its toll and the bells were faded and cracked.
However, a city employee found the original molds used to make the bells, which then were taken to Northwest Plastics in Port Coquitlam.
A new set of 65 bells was made.