Snowmen invade valley as Bright Lights warm up season
Dec 09, 2013 | 3347 views | 0 0 comments | 88 88 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This snowman is waiting to greet people in front of the Crafts Inn in Wilmington.  Photo by  Mike Eldred
This snowman is waiting to greet people in front of the Crafts Inn in Wilmington. Photo by Mike Eldred
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By Mike Eldred

DEERFIELD VALLEY- The valley’s annual Bright Lights celebration is back again this year, and bigger than ever.

Originally started in Dover, this marks the third year since the holiday-decorating festival has gone valleywide, and the celebration has grown so large that organizer Linda Anelli asked the Mount Snow Chamber of Commerce to take on the event. Chamber executive director Adam Grinold says the chamber board agreed – as long as Anelli would agree to continue serving as the committee chair. “It’s been wonderful,” Anelli says. “The chamber has given us new opportunities to promote Bright Lights and think about new ways to grow it.”

New for this year is the addition of snowmen to the decorations. The snowmen that are popping up around Wilmington, Whitingham, and Readsboro are another project that originated in Dover. For the past several years, Dover residents Kathy and Jim Martin have been creating plywood cut-out nutcrackers, gingerbread men, tin soldiers, and snowmen, which can be seen along the Valley Trail, at the town offices, and at various other locations in town. This year, Martin agreed to share his snowman template and, with the help of Wilmington Works, the snowmen have multiplied throughout Wilmington Village and beyond. “Kathy and Jim Martin deserve full credit for being the ‘elves of Dover’ for all of the years of bright lights,” Anelli says. “Last year, the snowman theme blew everyone away. Other towns wanted to know if we could expand that.”

Wilmington Works applied for some town event funds for the snowmen, enough to purchase materials for 28 snowmen, Grinold says. Lenny Chapman and Keith Herbert cut the figures and primed them, and the chamber coordinated with local artists to paint them. The Wings program painted one of the snowmen, as did Twin Valley Elementary School art students. “It’s a little different than what Dover has done,” Grinold says. “It was more like a community project, and each snowman is unique.”

Next year, Grinold plans to organize the creation of snowmen along the lines of the chamber’s “bears” program several years ago. Businesses and individuals will be able to purchase primed snowmen to decorate and display on their own, or they can sponsor a local artist to decorate the piece. “Or we’ll provide a template, and people can make their own from scratch,” Grinold says.

But Bright Lights is about lighting up the valley for the holidays, and this year is no different. From Readsboro to Wardsboro, the streets will be lined with holiday lights. Everyone is encouraged to participate, and Anelli says some of the displays are pretty spectacular. Participants can register their displays for inclusion on a map that is available on brightlightsvermont.com. Sightseers can use the map to navigate from one display to the next.

This will be the second year that First Trax Ski Shop at Mountain Park Plaza in West Dover will feature a large Hanukkah menorah and decorations for the Jewish Festival of Lights. This year Hanukkah was early in the season – the first candle on the menorah was lit on November 27. “Although the holiday concludes on December 5 this year, the menorah at First Trax will stay on throughout the month of Bright Lights,” says Deerfield Valley News columnist Faith Schuster, “honoring the miracle that took place over 2,000 years ago when the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was renewed and reconsecrated after a small Jewish army defeated the Greeks who had been denying them the freedom to practice their religion.”

As in the previous years, WW Building Supply will have specially priced LED lights for sale. “And this year they’re adding some solar lights,” Anelli adds. Sylvania, CED Twin State Electric, and Efficiency Vermont have teamed up to offer Deerfield Valley residents a discount of as much as 75% on energy-efficient LED household light bulbs. Residents can pre-purchase the bulbs at the chamber of commerce, and pick them up after they’ve been delivered.

The bulbs are equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent bulb, and are intended to replace the more common incandescent and compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. The LED bulbs are said to last about 23 years, and use an average of $1.45 in electricity per year. The bulbs retail for $20 to $25, and will be available for purchase through the chamber for $5.95 each, plus tax. Orders will be taken from Monday, December 9, through Monday, December 23.

Anelli says Sylvania helped local businesses with a similar deal after Tropical Storm Irene after she approached a number of companies looking for a way to help mitigate some of the economic pressure after the flood. This time, she says, Sylvania came looking for her. “This is an incredible offer, and Sylvania has been incredibly generous. The people at Sylvania have become good friends over the last couple of years.”

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