HOBBS, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s been an annual tradition for over 40 years to see light poles throughout town decked out with Christmas decor. However, this year’s holiday decorations have changed and residents are asking why.

“I’ve had many constituents reach out to me and ask me why Hobbs doesn’t seem like Christmas this year, because traditionally we’ve had Christmas lights on our poles around town since I was a young boy,” said Hobbs District 5 Commissioner, Dwayne Penick.

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In previous years, residents could drive down the city’s main streets and see street lights decorated with candy canes, Christmas trees and toy soldiers. Now, those decorations are no longer there but the city has invested $6,000 on new decorations as well as repurposed old decor and is using it to wrap trees and line pathways throughout town.

According to a City of Hobbs spokesperson, the decision behind the change comes down to safety and reliability. Penick says although it doesn’t feel like the annual Christmas tradition, he understands the internal decisions made by city officials to keep the city workers safe.

“We have a staffing issue from what I understand from talking to the mayor and the city managers. We were a liability putting people in our bucket trucks and putting them outdoing this kind of stuff,” said Penick.

As previously told by city staff, Penick says a franchise agreement between Xcel Energy prevented the holiday installations but Xcel Energy who is responsible for the street lights says they are not prohibiting the use of holiday decor on their structures. They do, however, require the city who is responsible for the decorations to cover any liability issues should there be damage to the poles.

Penick says he will do his best to bring back the holiday decorations to the light poles next year as he hopes to continue the Hobbs holiday tradition.