ToquiNotes: What are the Best Events in Bridgeport? A Rundown of 11 Mostly Annual Events to Consider

By Jeff Toquinto on January 13, 2024 via

As happens on occasion in this blog, I will do a list of “Greatest” of all time whether it is for something local, something national, or something mundane. Today, I am switching it up a bit.
This blog is not asking you to determine what is the greatest event in Bridgeport. Rather, we are asking you what your favorite event in Bridgeport is.
Colleague Chris Johnson and I produced a list of 11 events. The only real requirement is that the events – whether one or two days – usually have either a crowd in the range of 1,000 people or more or the event is so special that you need to go.
Again, as a disclaimer since without question someone will believe we are slighting their event, this is non-scientific. No funding is going to anyone. There is not a free cheesecake from Almost Heaven Deserts involved. In fact, there is probably an incredibly good chance that Chris and I missed one that we would have otherwise included.
That said, here is the list in no particular order. And we hope to put a poll as well.
1. Light Up Night: I imagine, based on crowds, this is probably the favorite event of many people in Bridgeport and beyond. This past year, based on some drone footage, was the largest single crowd I have ever witnessed at the event. The numbers were easily in the thousands; maybe 4,000 or 5,000. Who knows, all I can tell you for certain is that it was large.
A big shout out to the Associated Businesses of Bridgeport for creating this event and then fostering it through its growth. The amazing thing about the event, beyond the obvious, is that those involved seem to find a way every single year to add something to the event that makes it even more enjoyable.
The only downfall? The weather on occasion. Unfortunately, there is nothing anyone can do about that. This past year, however, the weather – outside of maybe a minor accumulation of snow added to the mix – was about as good as it gets.
2. Bridgeport Challenger League Opening Day: This is one of those events that draws a crowd, but not in the four-figure range. Let me be clear, however, that this event to me is the single best event in the City of Bridgeport. That is not trashing on any of the other events, but this event is the start of a season of sports that is nothing but joy and beauty.
Most already know that Challenger League baseball is a division of Little League Baseball. It is for children with special needs and was meant to provide those children with experience of Little League baseball.
What has ended up happening, along with those involved getting to experience baseball, is a tapestry of beauty woven together by the kindness of Mike and Kim Martin and their merry band of volunteers, coaches, and buddies.
Chances are good you won’t leave opening day with a dry eye as you get to watch these children show everyone what sports were meant to be about – fun. And it is fun from start to finish with an overdose of unmatched joy. If you cannot make it to opening day, go to a regular season game. You can thank me later.
3. Bridgeport Christmas Parade: A decades-long tradition that has never gotten old and probably never will get old. Like the first two items on this list, this may have a Bridgeport name on it, but it draws plenty of people from beyond the city limits.
Like the first two, weather plays a big part in just how much of a crowd will show up. Barring terribly frigid or rainy conditions, Main Street is usually four to five people deep with those basking in the holiday glow.
This is one of those events that also has a few additional ancillary events around it that keeps people coming downtown.
There is an annual pancake feed inside the Benedum Civic Center and a 5K that morning to get everyone’s blood pumping for a generally special day. This is one event with an early starting time if you include these activities that will take up most of your morning - and you will be thankful to have taken part.
4. Derek Hotsinpiller Fallen Stars 5K: Done in memory of U.S. Marshal and Bridgeport resident Derek Hotsinpiller, this 5K started out with a few hundred and now has become one of the biggest 5K races in North Central West Virginia.
One of the top parts is that it is not just local. It does participation from people across the United States and globally who try to run at roughly the same time and actually register for the race. Each year, race organizers strive for at least one racer from every state.
It also has more than just runners. There is generally a rather large crowd on hand as well as food trucks, amusements and more. The Hotsinpiller family, consisting of about as good people as you can encounter, work to team up with a host of volunteers that have made this one of those can’t miss warm-weather events right here in Bridgeport.
5. Fireworks on the 4th: Currently, the event is known as “Jenkins Subaru Fireworks on the Hill,” this event has one of the biggest crowds you will see. It is so big that it actually stretches between Bridgeport and Clarksburg with people from both cities and well beyond enjoying it and first responders from both cities helping to manage any issues.
This one is a bit unique. It returned several years ago under the sponsorship of WDTV. That return came after a decades-plus disappearance of the show on “the Hill.” It should be noted that the hill in question is Bridgeport Hill where Route 50, Lodgeville Road, and even I-79 meet.
For decades, Hills Department Store ran fireworks shows from the same location. Folks would come from miles around to get a chance to watch the show. The event has proven to be just as much about nostalgia for many as it is fun for spectators of the still relatively new version.
6. Wreaths Across America: Both the laying of the wreaths, the delivery, and, for that matter, the entire event, is a bit breathtaking. This is one that also will not draw a massive crowd, but certainly has everything you want in a community event.
The event in Bridgeport is part of one that takes place nationwide. The goal is to place a wreath on the gravestone or marker of every single veteran who is laid to rest at the Bridgeport Cemetery.
On the actual day of the event, family members gather at the Cemetery where they are presented with wreaths to lay on the graves of their beloved late veteran. Anyone who has taken part in this will tell you it is special, emotional, and worth your time to attend.
7. ABB Summer Kickoff: If you only think the ABB oversees Light Up Night, you would be wrong. This group of citizens make sure to kick off the warm-weather months with a still relatively new event that has grown in popularity and size for the last few years.
The event, which takes place on Bridgeport’s Main Street, has a little bit of something for everyone. Want music? Check. Want food from food trucks? Check. Want to play in the world’s largest sandbox? Wan to … you get the idea.
When you see this being advertised on Connect-Bridgeport, you should probably throw it on the calendar. You will not regret it.
8. Honor Flight: Although it is usually an annual event, the event is hoping to return after a one-year hiatus. Count yours truly among those hoping for a return.
The flight takes veterans, at no cost, to Washington, D.C., for a day where they are treated like they should be – as rock stars. The event is not unique to Bridgeport as it is done nationally, but it does not detract from the beauty of it.
While most who know about this event may have talked to a veteran that has taken part and how much fun it is, those who have not may only know about it from the return flight. That, alone, is enough to make you enjoy the event.
The North Central West Virginia Airport draws a crowd of up to 1,000 people to welcome the veteran’s home. And it is a celebration that leaves most of the veterans with a smile on their face and a tear in their eye. There is a good chance you will be the same.
9. National Night Out: This is another event that is done right here in Bridgeport and across the country. And it is one that draws an absolute gigantic throng of people.
For years, the event was held at the Benedum Civic Center. The site was nice, primarily because it includes use of the city pool that evening for free. However, it just became too big, and the alternative has turned into a nice one on the grounds of The Bridge Sports and Recreation Complex.
From free food and drinks to free gifts and entertainment, this event that helps allow the community to meet up with law enforcement is a huge hit in each year in the City of Bridgeport.
And if you go ot National Night Out, you may be one of the lucky individuals who will be walking away with one of several door prizes.
10. Bridgeport Citywide Yard Sale: Here is the one on the list that probably does not have unanimous liking by the residents of Bridgeport, but certainly has many participating in the event. The annual Citywide Yard Sale lasts for hours and literally brings in thousands of people inside the city limits.
It is the deluge of vehicles that is why some do not like it. With that many cars coming to the city, streets are often clogged, and parking is not always of the legal variety.
That problem aside, usually well over 100 homes make a substantial cash windfall thanks to the yard sale. And a number much larger than that takes home plenty of good and affordable yard sale finds.
The event also proves to be a positive for area businesses, particularly restaurants. If you’re in the city all day, chances are good you are going to need a bite to eat.
11. The Carl Hopkins Youth Aviation Expo: The event took place for the third time last summer at The Bridge Sports Complex and it has rapidly become a popular event that has drawn large crowds.  
The Expo which was launched by Ed Waske and a group of committed volunteers, some from out of state, has a little bit of everything for those interested in aviation. 
Although the Expo is targeted to the youth and showing them everything from aviation-related hobbies to potential job opportunities, there is something for all ages and the cost is free to attend. 
The Expo has featured a variety of attractions from model airplanes to flight simulators to Blackhawk helicopters to control-line flying and so much more.  
Editor's Note: Photos by Joe LaRocca with the exception of the Fireworks, which was done by Ben Queen Photography; the Light Up Night photo which was taken by Julie Perine; and the bottom photo taken by Chris Johnson.

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