Light Up Corydon is a soggy success
Light Up Corydon was rained on but not out Saturday.
Revelers and their umbrellas packed the dark, soggy lawn surrounding the Hurley D. Conrad Memorial Bandstand in advance of the annual turning on of the thousands of lights decorating the town square.
‘They still came,’ Reflections proprietor Lisa Goffinet remarked on the remarkable turnout. ‘I think it’s at least as good as last year, if not better.’
The big moment was replaced by several smaller ones as the lights came on in stages.
‘The electric system there around the capitol needs some work, to say the least,’ said Sean Hawkins, community development manager for the Harrison County Convention Visitors Bureau.
Apparently moisture had entered several electrical outlets, partially short-circuiting Light Up Corydon. Hawkins expected lingering problems with the lights would be sorted out Monday.
The event measured up on the biggest yardstick for success. Business was booming in downtown Corydon and many merchants reaped the benefits by staying open late.
‘Last year it was disappointing when we turned on the lights ‘ the amount of darkness we saw in the stores,’ Hawkins said, but this year, buoyed in part by an advertising campaign that included a live, on-location broadcast by WRKA radio station until 7 p.m., warm lights filled windows around the chilly square.
WRKA promoted the event throughout the week.
‘They did interviews with many merchants, and some merchants had to skip their interview time because they were so busy,’ Hawkins said.
Some merchants reported being down from last year, but they didn’t seem to mind much.
‘I’m down 10 percent at the most, and I’ll credit that 10 percent to the weather,’ said Lisa England of Candles by Lisa.
‘I wasn’t disappointed. Can you imagine what the turnout might have been had it not rained?’ she asked.
Among those not deterred by the weather was Tammy Hubbard of Atlanta. She comes to Crawford County each year to visit friends and relatives, and she visits Light Up.
‘It’s become a family tradition,’ she said.
‘Light Up Corydon is my favorite day of the year for sales and work,’ Goffinet said. ‘(The customers) are all festive, and they’re in the Christmas spirit.’
Gift wrappers Chelsea Feller, 14, and Katie Conrad, 15, were succumbing to the holiday spirit while earning a little holiday cash the monotonous way at the Town Square Gallery. They were making bows by hand. ‘We’ll get so bored that things that aren’t even funny seem hilarious,’ Feller said while preparing for a long day.
Pieces of Old antique store came aboard with other downtown merchants looking for strength in numbers as they stay open later on weekends leading up to Christmas.
Last year, Lori Krieger, part-owner of Pieces of Old, forgot about Light Up Corydon and closed shop. ‘I heard about it the next day,’ she said.
She made a point to stay open this year, and at 8 p.m. shoppers were still streaming through her doors.
Light Up Corydon was also a boon for downtown restaurants.
‘It’s 7 o’clock and we have people waiting for tables and more reservations,’ said Karen Hall, manager at Magdelena’s Restaurant and Gourmet Gift Shoppe.
On the other side of the square, it was standing-room-only for those who hadn’t made reservations at The Real Enchilada Mexican restaurant.
Thanksgiving was over, but two shoppers stopping in for a drink had a lot for which to be thankful Saturday night. Thick traffic and dark, wet roads proved a treacherous combination when the two were struck by a pickup truck on Walnut Street. Both were knocked to the ground, but neither was hurt.
Santa will be in the First State Capitol the first two Fridays of December from 6 to 8 p.m. and first two Saturdays from 3 to 6 p.m., and many downtown businesses will be extending their Friday hours.