Fundraiser saves Big Bright Light Show tradition

Fundraiser saves Big Bright Light Show tradition

Maura Losh

The rumors spread like wildfire- there may be no more Big Bright Light Show in Rochester. The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) was determined not to let this holiday tradition disappear and hosted a fundraiser to earn over $27,000 to overcome the budgeting dilemma with extra cuts this year that were not an obstacle in years past.

“The Big, Bright Light Show started in 2006,” Executive Director of the DDA Kristi Trevarrow said.  “It was inspired by the Osborne Spectacle of Lights at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios.  The idea was to create a must-see attraction for downtown during the holiday season.”

The tradition has become the largest holiday light display in the Midwest drawing in over 1 million people, according to city officials. Starting after Lagniappe (the kickoff event) Dec. 2 at 7 p.m., the lights will shine bright from 5 p.m.-midnight until January 5.

“I think it lights up little kids’ imaginations,” senior Lara Dhayni said. “It’s like a little Christmas wonderland for them and they love it and I think that is a cute advantage of the show. Little kids can’t keep their eyes off the lights and it looks like something that came out of a Christmas storybook.”

Because of budgeting conflicts, the DDA would not be able to continue the light show the way it has the past couple years and had to have a campaign to raise $27,000 known as the Miracle on Fourth Street.

“The Miracle on Fourth Street Campaign was an online fundraising campaign through Kickstarter to restore the lights to Fourth Street, which were eliminated this year because of budget cuts,” Trevarrow said. “ The goal was reached through the support of over 200 donors – individuals, families, businesses and corporations.  It was amazing to see people come together to support our small businesses.”

Without the support of all the campaign donors, the light show would not have been possible.

“Even if they had to cut back on the show, I look forward to seeing the lights every year,” Fournier said. “It gets me in the spirit for Christmas. It makes downtown feel like a giant Christmas tree. When I see them, I can’t help but feel happy that Christmas is coming.”
Kids are not the only ones enjoying the show, however. The businesses downtown also appreciate the show during the gift-giving season.

“The Big, Bright Light Show, while being an amazing attraction for visitors during the holiday season, is most definitely an economic development tool,” Trevarrow said.  “It drives sales to our downtown businesses during the incredibly important fourth quarter.”
Others see the influx of people on the roads and in the shops as a disadvantage.

“Traffic is crazy too, on the roads and the sidewalks,” junior Serena Fournier said. “I remember one time, we went to get pictures and we ended up having to parallel park and going through the sunroof of our car to take pictures. It was still warm, but we couldn’t be on the crowded sidewalks because there just wasn’t any room to walk.”
Dhayni agrees.

“I’ve never been downtown other than when I just drive through and see the lights,” Dhayni said. “I’ve never walked through them, just drove when I was going to the library or to get pizza or something. It’s just too crowded.”
Others think the show is a must-see.

“I remember I went downtown with my friend and our toes were icicles and we were just sitting there waiting for the lights to come on and it was just amazing when they lit up,” Fournier said. “It gets everyone downtown and it’s just a really fun time.”

The goal to spread Christmas cheer throughout the city and all its visitors truly has left an impact in their hearts.

“If they cancelled the light show, I feel it wouldn’t put anyone in the Christmas mood,” Dhayni said. “It’d be a plain and boring month. The light show brings magic and creativity to everyone else and I feel like it would make everyone like a Scrooge [without the show]. But I’m glad it will continue. “