Volunteers Help with Over 80,000 Lights in Downtown Bennington
The nights may be dark, but Bennington Downtown is brighter than ever, thanks to the over 40,000 lights illuminating garlands, wreaths, trees, bushes, and many storefront windows. The behind-the-scenes work for this seasonal display began in September at the now-vacant town garage, where prep tables, hanging units and equipment encompassed almost the entire space. Alliance staff member Bill Clark, oversees the set-up and volunteers, working with the Town of Bennington to coordinate installation of the decorations. For the past few years, members of the Twilight Program and Teens for Change have been some of the groups who provided dozens of volunteer hours to help with preparations. The lights and decorations will remain on display every evening until mid-January.
In years past, downtown would get much darker after the holiday displays were removed, but all that ended last year when the Grow Bennington Initiative, led by Lynn Green, co-owner of the Four Chimneys Inn, decided to keep Bennington Downtown illuminated all winter. Funds were donated by over 100 individuals and organizations to purchase new LED bright white lights, to be wrapped around the branches of approximately 40 trees throughout downtown – that’s 40,000 more lights – calling for more volunteers. The MAUHS football team along with many other individuals helped with this effort.
“The winter lights are different from the warm lights used during the holidays, in that they are much brighter and much whiter, says John Shannahan, director of the Bennington Downtown Alliance. “We didn’t want them to look like holiday lights; the goal was to illuminate the sidewalks and brighten the streetscape as much as possible.”
Green adds, “None of these projects would be possible without the generosity of so many. For example, Home Depot was instrumental in arranging the special store delivery of power cords and timers, and then providing them at a discounted rate to help us stretch every dollar. They also sponsored the beautiful up-lighting project this past year summer.” to contribute to the efforts of the Grow Bennington Initiative.”
These projects require thousands of hours of preparation and on-going funding. Donations for upkeep and replacement are welcome. An if you’re an adult and an agile tree climber, your help is needed. Contact Shannahan at [email protected] For more information on the Grow Bennington Initiative, visit betterbennington.org/