It's Happening: 18th Annual Light Up Night Brings Reminiscing, Excitement about Upcoming Event

By Julie Perine on November 29, 2022 via

In 2005, a Bridgeport Christmas tradition was born and met with open arms. Community members met at the Benedum Civic Center for the lighting of the city’s tree. Members of the Associated Businesses of Bridgeport set up tents along Main Street, strung festive lights and gifted hot drinks, cookies, and trinkets. Local vocalists lent their voices to add to the festive atmosphere.
“The first night of Light Up Night, it snowed, which to me was a sign this event was magical,” said Brad Ford, ABB board member and a founding member of the event.
Other longtime ABB members agree that the falling snow was affirmation of a good thing. Hundreds of community members recall the moment and talk it about often.
ABB board member Doug Marquette said his favorite things about Light Up Night are watching and listening to the elementary choirs sing and seeing neighbors and friends greet each other along Main Street. The smiles are memorable, and so is another specific happening.
“My favorite memory was after I got all the booths in their place and Melinda (Lindsey) had done all the work of organizing, communicating, and putting on the dinner for the police and fire departments,” he said. “As the program started, we would meet just outside of the entrance to the Civic Center, take a deep breath, and grin at all the happy faces. I miss getting to do that with her.”
A very active ABB board member, Lindsey passed away in 2019. She is fondly remembered, especially during this special holiday event.
ABB Board Member Gabe Feist said when he thinks of Light Up Night, he thinks of children’s faces lighting up during festivities. One year, those faces lit up brighter than ever.
“The first year of the fireworks was a great memory, as it was a surprise for most,” he said.
It’s always special when winter weather accompanies Light Up Night. Of course, that is not always the case. Some years, it has been unseasonably warm and a year or two, rain fell from the sky instead of snow. Regardless of the temperatures or conditions, taking center stage is an aura of community and the excitement of kicking off the holiday season.
In 2020, the ABB created a drive-through Light Up Night experience. That, of course, was due to the COVID pandemic and aimed at continuing the holiday tradition, but also keeping community members safe. Cars lined up for miles to dive by, see the lit-up tree, receive holiday goodies and experience Christmastime entertainment. That was also the year that Light Up Our City was born. Residents signed up to be included on a map, distributed on Light Up Night, giving families a festive outing. Not only could they drive around and see the holiday sights, but also solve a puzzle. Light Up Our City participants competed for weekly bragging rights, documented by Card My Yard Bridgeport. (To sign up for this year’s Light Up Our City, email your address to
Light Up Night has grown throughout the years. Marquette, who is lining up registered member businesses, said there are more than 50 booths for this year’s event. There are more entertainers than ever this year. Attendees will witness the talent of Key to Adam, Greg Harrison, Josh Oldaker, Brandon Leroy, Benjamin DeFazio, Josh Stubbs, St. Mary’s Elementary Children’s Choir, the Bridgeport High School Jazz Band, and the combined elementary choirs of Johnson, Simpson, and Heritage Christian schools.
The Bridgeport High School Dance Team will perform at Center and Main, as will the dancers of Studio 9 Dance Academy.
As always, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand for meet and greets. But this year, an array of other festive characters will be there, too. About You Monograms and Mistletoe Holiday Shoppe present a meet and greet with a special array of beloved children’s characters. On hand during the event will be The Grinch, Jack Skellington Santa, Elsa, Belle, and perhaps another Disney princess of two.
Middleville Baptist Church will bring its live nativity, sharing a preview of its weekend-long event Dec. 10-11. The display will be located at the GAL Land Company parking lot. 
Light Up Night runs 6-8 p.m. Thurs., Dec. 1 with tree lighting at 7 p.m. Flipping the power switch on the Civic Center tree will be Ford, who has not only been instrumental in Light Up Night throughout its 18-year history, but also an active community member in various respects, including but certainly not limited to serving as president of Bridgeport Rotary and as emcee of Wreaths Across America ceremony at Bridgeport Cemetery.
The tree lighting will be preceded by the BHS Jazz Band and elementary school choirs and followed by an a cappella performance by Puget Sound Company. (Read about the vocal group HERE.)
The City of Bridgeport will again be making deep-fried donuts and Dan Riggs Towing will again host a firepit to keep everyone toasty. Dozens of other ABB members will be disbursing holiday treats, from candy and hot cocoa to glow toys and other novelties.
“I am honored to be a part of a board that cares so much about our community and brings so much joy to our town,” said ABB President Jaclyn Rominger. “Light Up Night never disappoints.”

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