The Canopy of Lights event, which will be tonight on the Monroe County Courthouse square, is always one of the feel-good occasions on the community’s calendar. And the glow from the evening continues through the holidays as the sparkling white lights shine through the season.
Citizens owe a debt of gratitude to CFC, Inc., which is the power behind the downtown lighting.
There are enough lights strung through the downtown area to stretch from the courthouse to north of Martinsville — about 25 miles of lights in all. There are 4,782 feet of lights in the canopy that stretches over College, Walnut, Fifth and Sixth streets. The trees have about 3,500 feet of lights — on each tree. The buildings on the square and east and west of Fountain Square mall have 2,072 feet of lighting; Graham Plaza has 900 feet of rope lighting.
CFC technicians work on the project for half the year, starting to replace lights and wrap trees in July. Every three years they replace all the lights.
CFC has long focused its efforts on downtown Bloomington. President Jim Murphy said the lighting “is another amenity for downtown. It brings people to the community and builds support for downtown.”
Fountain Square, a CFC property, is a winter wonderland. How many lights are there? “We quit counting,” Murphy said.
CFC’s leadership brightens the community each year, but other local businesses get in the spirit and decorate with white lights, too. Cassady Electric helps string and replace lights on the Canopy of Lights. All the other folks who have a hand in this deserve credit, as well. Happy holidays to all involved.
“Let there be light.”
This oft-quoted Biblical phrase will morph into reality at 7 p.m. today at the 19th annual lighting ceremony for the Canopy of Lights and Hospice of Bloomington Hospital’s “Light up a Life” tree on the southwest side of the Monroe County Courthouse Square.
“This is a tradition that brings together people from all walks of life to celebrate and kick off the holiday season,” said Bloomington Downtown Commission director Talisha Coppock. “It’s a very simple ceremony, but it gives everyone a warm, wonderful feeling.”
The Canopy of Lights will be lit by Santa Claus and Polka-Dot the Clown; Mayor-elect Mark Kruzan will illuminate the “Light Up a Life” tree.
In addition to raising money, Hospice’s “Light Up a Life” event offers a way for people to honor, memorialize or celebrate the life of a loved one.
Each $10 donation to Hospice of Bloomington Hospital will illuminate one of the hundreds of bulbs on the Hospice tree.
People can make financial gifts to Hospice prior to the lighting of the 20-foot-tall tree, or anytime through the month of December.
Each donor will receive a gift card and ornament. A list containing the names of every donor, loved one and gift will be placed on a board alongside the tree — and updated twice a week through December.
All donations will be used to assist, through the Hospice “transitions” program, community members who are nearing the end of their lives.
“Last year, gifts totaled $34,000,” said Jonna Risher, Bloomington Hospital’s manager of community relations. “Because of an increasing numbers of patients, the goal this year is $40,000.”
To make a donation or learn more about the event, call Hospice of Bloomington Hospital at 353-9818.
Ellen Surburg, director of Hospice of Bloomington Hospital, said the Hospice transitions program is designed to care for people with life-limiting illnesses who do not qualify for or choose the regular hospice program.
The care — which may include such things as medicine and transportation — is provided at no cost to patients. But because Hospice receives no financial reimbursement for the care of transitions patients, the program must be entirely supported by donations.
Taking place shortly after the lighting of the Hospice tree will be the lighting of the Canopy of Lights. The canopy, which will remain illuminated through New Year’s Day, will feature more than 280,000 lights on downtown trees and buildings, and on strings stretching from the top of courthouse over the streets that encircle it.
If placed end-to-end, the strings of lights on the trees, buildings and canopy would measure more than 25 miles in length.
The event is made possible by CFC Inc. technicians, who spent five months replacing burned out bulbs and wrapping trees with strings of lights.
Meanwhile, workers from Cassady Electric string and replace lights on the Canopy of Lights.
“The extended ‘Ooh!’ and ‘Ahh!’ from all, especially the kids, make it worth all the effort,” said Jim Murphy, CFC Inc. president.
The Friday-night festivities, which typically draw 5,000 onlookers, will showcase a fully decorated Monroe County Courthouse and Fountain Square Mall, plus entertainment by the Bloomington Chamber Singers, Bloomington Brass Band, Bloomington Pops Yuletide Singers and Polka-Dot-the-Clown.