Friday November 16, 2012

DOVER -- The Bright Lights celebration creates an aura on the valley like no other.

"At its core, it’s just fun and warm and fuzzy and Americana," said Linda Anelli, a Bright Lights organizer. "It’s everything good that people seem to yearn for today. And it’s easy to do and participate in."

From Dec. 1 to Mar. 2, businesses and homes from Readsboro to Wardsboro will put up festive lights. Towns will hold special events in that time frame.

This year’s theme will be "starry nights," but it isn’t confined to that theme. Last year, there was no theme.

To register, businesses and homes were asked to submit their address through www.brightlightsvermont.com or give their information to town clerks in any of the valley’s town offices. Schools and students were also encouraged to participate.

All entries will be included on a map created by Phil Gilpin Jr., owner of Green Mountain Marketing. The map will act as a guide to the decorated spots of the region.

People who are interested can obtain a map and drive around to see Bright Lights in action. Second-home owners and guests of the area are also invited to take a look at the displays.

Bright Lights originated in Dover about four or five years ago, according to Anelli. It began as part of an economic development plan, when the 1 percent tax was implemented.

After Irene, towns came together to be part of a regional event that celebrated the Deerfield Valley.

"It was taking something that was on a much smaller scale and expanding it to test the water and see if our sister towns had the inclination to participate. People jumped onboard right off the bat, said Anelli."

In the past, the events that went along with Bright Lights were held on one weekend. Organizers thought there was too much going on for it to be limited to just one weekend, so this year, events will be held throughout the three month period.

Events include the 100th anniversary of the Dover Library in the first weekend of December, movie nights in Whitingham, retail sales, hotel packages and dinner specials at local restaurants.

There will be a craft fair on Dec. 8 at the Memorial Hall in Wilmington.

A snowman challenge will be another event offered by Whitingham that asks participants to send in pictures of their best snowman created this year. Submissions will be posted at the Whitingham Library.

This year, the idea is to highlight events that may be new or haven’t been advertised as much in the past and promote economic development in the valley.

Anelli said participants don’t have to keep their lights up for the entire three months if they don’t want to.

"We keep it up for that long because it’s festive and inviting. There’s no mandate for how long you have to keep it up for," she said.

WW Building Supply, of Wilmington, will be selling LED lights at a reduced rate to encourage more participation in the community event.

Organizers suggest LED or solar lights because they are better for the environment. Anelli said they want the event to eventually grow to be as green of an event as it is a light event.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com.