ToquiNotes: A Look at the Magic of Light Up Night and What You Need to Know if it's Back for Year 14

By Jeff Toquinto on November 03, 2018 from ToquiNotes via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Fourteen years ago, Melinda Lindsey remembers walking up Main Street at the first-ever City of Bridgeport Light Up Night with elementary school choirs planning to sing that evening. They started near the fire department and make their way to the riser where they were going to entertain the somewhat small gathering.
 
Four years after that first trip, maneuvering dozens of youngsters up Main Street during Light Up Night was out of the question. Simply put, there was a wave of humanity involved that made things a little precarious.
 
The good news is that the youngsters didn’t stop going to the event due to a change in their logistics. The even better news is that those elementary school choirs have been involved with the first 13 Light Up Night brought to you by the Associated Businesses of Bridgeport (ABB).
 
The best news?
 
It’s back – and it could be bigger than ever this year. And barring inclement weather, Main Street in Bridgeport will once again see thousands of people lining the roadway on Thursday, Nov. 29 – one week after Thanksgiving and just about a month away from Christmas starting at 6 p.m.
 
I’ll get into some of the details about this year’s event here shortly, but first I think it’s well past due for some kudos to the ABB. There are a lot of really good organizations in Bridgeport and this one, certainly, is in that mix.
 
While we’re just going to focus on this event as opposed to the other things the group does to benefit the Bridgeport business community, it’s not necessarily a slight. If all the ABB did each year was put on Light Up Night then their group would be a success.
 
I’m not so certain I’ve seen a better event bringing out more good will, more smiles and simply more of anything positive than this event does for Bridgeport and plenty of outsiders who come to take part as well. And trust me, if you haven’t been to one you’re missing something.
 
“It’s a pretty magical night,” said Lindsey, the secretary/treasurer for the group who was in that role when it all started.
 
She wasn’t alone. Brad Ford was president of the group at the time and Mark Bonamico was the vice president. Lindsey said they’re all still on the group’s board of directors.
 
That doesn’t surprise me. All three are entrenched in what Bridgeport represents, the small business community and an event that brings everyone together for what she correctly described as a “magical” evening.
 
As for those choirs, they’ll be back. Before them, the Bridgeport High School Jazz Bank will once again perform. They start, she said, around 6:15 p.m. and go until about 6:55 p.m.
 
The music then takes a break and Ford addresses the crowd from the upper balcony of the Benedum Civic Center. It’s just shortly after that when the Boy Scouts will lead those gathered in the Pledge of Allegiance.
 
After that, the choirs get involved, with students from Simpson, Johnson and Heritage Christian all taking a part. And there’s plenty of additional music for those coming. Brandon LeRoy, Benjamin DeFazio and Montani Contanti will all perform as well.
 
Oh, for those that don’t know, all that entertainment is free. That’s not all that comes without a price tag.
 
Already, more than 20 members of the ABB have signed up to participate in the event. It’s one of the benefits of being a member. And the benefit includes providing plenty of goodies from cookies, candy canes and hot chocolate, to hot dogs, donuts and more.
 
Other items will also be given out along with the food. The ABB allows churches and civic groups to participate as well.
 
“It’s the spirit of the season, which is why everything is free. All you have to do is show up. There is no charge for anything,” said Lindsey.
 
The choirs serve as the entry way for the two big moments of the evening. Lindsey said they will sing right up to the point when the event’s namesake takes place. That’s when Mayor Andy Lang and other dignitaries will officially light up for the first time in the evening the City of Bridgeport Christmas tree.
 
“There are just so many people that bunch up to see that. I never imagined when I walked up the street that first time with those children along with my boys Donnie and Chris that we’d have to have the kids chaperoned and meet in the Civic Center,” said Lindsey. “I just never imagined, and I’d bet if you asked (then) Mayor Jim Christie and others, that it would get this big. We thought we had something, we just never imagined it would be the sea of people you often see there.”
 
They come for the entertainment. They come for the free treats. They come to see the tree light up. And they also come to see Santa Claus, who has once again confirmed his presence at the event.
 
They also come for the grand finale. Lindsey said earlier this week it was confirmed that Light Up Night 2018 will end with a bang as the annual show will feature fireworks.
 
“The fireworks against the backdrop of the tree and the Civic Center is beautiful and you see so many people just watching that it’s wonderful. I know if the weather isn’t bad, it’s always in the thousands and I think the most we’ve ever had is around 3,000,” said Lindsey. “That’s a lot of people.”
 
Indeed it is. But it shouldn’t be surprising. People love a show. They really love a good show with the right price tag promoting the best a city has to offer.
 
That’s what Light Up Night has. For that, allow me to safely thank the Associated Businesses of Bridgeport a thank you for a truly magical evening.
 
Editor's Note: Photos show the crowds and the fun from past Light Up Nights. Photos by www.benqueenphotography.com.


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