Bright Friday: Tree-lighting ceremony to kick off Ridgefield's holiday season
“Bright Friday,” the annual tree-lighting ceremony that takes place in front of town hall, marks the beginning of Ridgefield’s holiday season.
The event will take place on the same date (the Friday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 23), at the same time (carolers will begin singing at 6 p.m.) and feature the usual cast of characters (Santa and emcee Ira Joe Fisher).
“Santa will come into town around 6:30 provided he has good weather,” said First Selectman Rudy Marconi. “Let’s hope there aren’t too many clouds in the sky that night.”
This year’s honoree — the person who throws the switch and lights up the trees downtown from Governor Street to Prospect Street — is a young member from the Boys and Girls Club.
“We like to leave the identity as a surprise for the people who come out,” Marconi said. “It’s our little tradition.”
The tree-lighting festival gives people the incentive to stay in town, rather than leave to complete Black Friday shopping at big retail stores in the mall.
Crowds gather around 6 p.m. for the lighting and music, and to shop.
While not necessarily a holiday shopping event (that’s more the goal of the Holiday Stroll the following Friday), Bright Friday does attract hundreds to Ridgefield’s historic Main Street. Some shopkeepers — including the Toy Chest, the Purple Frog and the Books on the Common.
— stay open later in recognition of the big crowds and the town’s special visitor from the North Pole.
“Santa will come down Catoonah Street and pose for a couple of pictures before heading to Lounsbury House, I believe, where he’ll stay and listen to kids give their wish list,” Marconi said.
The event is free for all residents to attend.
“As always, we look forward to the holiday season here in Ridgefield,” the first selectman said. “It’s a special time of year for everyone in town. It’s a season of celebration, one to be shared with loved ones that always brings in a warm, festive feeling.”
It’s also a time to think of those less fortunate.
“Now, more than any time of the year, we start to think of others and I think that’s an important part of this tradition,” Marconi said. “We must have respect and compassion for everyone.”
The Ridgefield Holiday Trust Fund pays for the cost of the lights and stringing them onto the trees.
Several years ago, the bulbs were replaced with LED models. That meant savings in electricity for the town, which foots the bill.
Marconi said the lights used to cost between $8,000 and $9,000 to operate.
They stay lit from the Friday after Thanksgiving to the first day of February.
“They stay up for a while, which is nice,” the first selectman said.