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Committee launches new event, searching for holiday decorations

Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM ● Published by Carl Fauver

Outstanding holiday outdoor decorations will be honored again this season by Taylorsville City.

Gallery: Holiday Decorations [4 Images] Click any image to expand.

Maybe the name is part of the reason Taylorsville City’s LARP Committee constantly struggles for membership. After all, what’s LARP?

First off, don’t Google it—unless you want to fall down a rabbit hole, into a world of dragon costumes, gladiators, swords and people wearing strange hobbit ears.

Unlike the place computer search engines take you, this isn’t “Live Action Role Playing.”

“Let me see, I have it written out somewhere, hold on, I don’t want to give it to you wrong.” That’s what Committee Chairwoman Joan Thalmann says when you ask what LARP stands for.

But even if the acronym for the city’s Leisure Activities, Recreation & Parks Committee is a bit confusing, Thalmann said what they do is all about fun — just the kind of committee she was looking for. 

“I first became active on the committee about 11½ years ago, when Russ Wall was mayor,” Thalmann said. “When I told him I wanted to become more involved in the city, he suggested I join the Ordinance Review Committee. But I told him that sounded too much like work, and I wanted to do something fun. The next thing I knew, I was on the LARP Committee.”

Thalmann spent more than 30 years working for the State Department of Environmental Quality Clean Air Division and said she’s had her fill of reviewing ordinances. 

“This committee is great; we give out beautification awards, holiday decorating honors, and this year we launched our biggest event yet,” she said.

That would be the first-ever Family Fall Festival, which drew an estimated 3,000 people, despite being held on an unseasonably cold, mid-October Saturday. 

“Those who braved the chill seemed to have a great time,” Thalmann said. “We had six bounce houses for the kids and provided them with pumpkins and paint for a decorating contest. The National Guard brought their climbing wall; there was a chalk art contest and lots of food trucks. We’re already talking about doing it again next year, if the city will budget for it again.”

Since its inception years ago, the LARP Committee has functioned on just a $500 per year budget. But when the decision was made to launch the Family Fall Festival, city officials agreed to provide the committee with a $15,000 budget to do it.

“As far as I know, that’s the first time our committee every received any additional funding for an event,” Thalmann said. “And we came in way under budget, spending about $10,400.”

One of Thalmann’s few active LARP Committee members who assisted with the festival was Judy Bunkall, who’s been with the group about half a year.

“I had no idea we were going to do the festival when I joined; what a wonderful activity,” Bunkall said. “It was so much fun to help plan the festival, and I learned what great city employees we have. They were willing to help with anything. We could certainly use more committee members, and I think anyone who joins will learn just how enriching it is.”

The LARP Committee representative on the city council, Councilman Dan Armstrong, couldn’t agree more.

“The Family Fall Festival was a great event that we want to repeat, but that’s just one thing the committee does,” Armstrong said.  “One of their priorities is to highlight parks. That’s why they held (the festival) at Taylorsville Park (4700 South Redwood Road).  The committee also coordinates our walking trail system throughout the city, and they present beautification and holiday decorating awards to residents. Joan (Thalmann) is a great gal — what a fireball. Anyone who joins the committee will love working with her.”

Already this year the LARP Committee has presented summer yard beautification awards to some hardworking Taylorsville residents.  Last month the committee also honored the city’s best Halloween decorated homes. All that’s left now is to award the top holiday outdoor decor.

“Taylorsville residents have until Jan. 2, 2018, to submit a photo or video of their own decorated yard or a neighbor’s,” Thalmann said. “We always get great entries. It’s amazing how much work some people put into decorating their yards.”

To enter the contest, or to learn more about joining the Leisure Activities, Recreation & Parks Committee, send an email to LARP@taylorsvilleut.gov.

Just don’t Google LARP—unless your dragon costume has been properly dry cleaned. 

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