Ready to light the night: Bemidji Jaycees ready to flip the switch on Friday for Night We Light
BEMIDJI -- In less than a week, a switch will be flipped and the city of Bemidji will once again be illuminated by festive lights. For the past 19 years, lights next to the iconic Paul and Babe the Blue Ox statues would be turned on during the Ni...
BEMIDJI -- In less than a week, a switch will be flipped and the city of Bemidji will once again be illuminated by festive lights.
For the past 19 years, lights next to the iconic Paul and Babe the Blue Ox statues would be turned on during the Night We Light ceremony by city staff and later the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce.
However, there was some doubt about what would happen in 2015. That's when the Bemidji Jaycees came into the picture.
"The Chamber had been looking for a new champion. Someone to take it on because resources were tied since the Chamber does a lot of other projects," said Joshua Peterson, event chair. "I heard about it and decided to bring it to the Bemidji Jaycees and we decided to take it on."
Peterson said the Jaycees came to the project in early September and had to deal with the Paul Bunyan Park construction underway in the area. Despite this, the organization has been able to organize the event and are placing lights on about a dozen trees by Paul and Babe as well as the gazebo.
"This year for us is like a stepping stone, because we have bigger plans for the project next year," Peterson said. "We want to bring back lighting the whole park, downtown and the Library Park. There used to be 350,000 lights, that is our goal. The last time it was like that was in 2003."
This year's Night we Light event takes place Friday; however the event actually starts before the sun sets.
Things get started with an ornament crafts event for kids from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Least of These Boutique, 310 Fourth St. Ornaments made during the event will be hung on the Christmas tree in the Bemidji Visitors Center.
Following the crafts session, the parade that has been accompanied the Night We Light ceremony will get organized. Check-in is at 4 p.m. and motorized units get in place at 5 p.m. Walking units will get into place at 5:30 p.m. and the parade will begin at 6 p.m.
The parade is staged in the Beltrami County Services building parking lot and starts at the lot's north entrance and goes east on Eighth Street, then south on Beltrami Avenue, west on Third Street and will end at the intersection of Irvine Avenue.
"After the parade we will have the lighting ceremony in front of Paul and Babe. We will have a stage and a giant light switch. When it gets flipped all the lights will come on," Peterson said. "Then we will have some school students singing carols and there will be food trucks here for people to get something to eat."
Once the lights have been switched on, Peterson said float awards will be presented and one representative from each float must be present to claim their trophy. The trophies, Peterson said, will be traveling and will have the winner of each year placed on.
The Beltrami County Historical Society also will be hosting a Night We Light bonfire at the History Center, 130 Minnesota Ave. SW from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
For more information on the Night we Light event, visit the Bemidji Jaycees website at www.bemidjijaycees.com .