Electric 5k sparks this weekend

By Dean Wright - deanwright@civitasmedia.com

GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis in Lights is set to hold its its annual Electric 5K Walk and Run this Saturday.

According to Gallipolis in Lights Co-Chair Shari Rocchi, Tristate Racer will time the event and activities will start on stage with 7 p.m. around Gallipolis City Park. The Stringbenders will return to entertain crowds with music along with Jenny Walker and Mark Ward and New Jasper Station.

“We’re looking to maybe, possibly change up the course from last year just a tad,” said Rocchi. “It will be in the same area of First Avenue. But we’re thinking about starting it in the amphitheatre area this year and we have not made that final decision yet. We need to make sure we have time and distance figured out. It will be along First Avenue and basically the same.”

Currently, the Electric Run’s Facebook page event says the course will begin along State Street beside Gallipolis City Park. It will journey through First Avenue to Vine Street, then to Sycamore Street and end back at the park. The course is on flat-paved ground.

There will be nine age categories for participants to compete in. Run awards go to the top female and male winners of the 5k run. Best glow-in-the-dark outfits will receive awards based on age group as participants are encouraged to gear up in all manner of lights and color.

Homes along the running course are encouraged to decorate for the race and out of town judges, said Rocchi, will be on hand to judge the homes and distribute awards.

“After-Glow” parties will be held at Uncle Kenny’s and Courtside Bar and Grill once the race is over.

With around 1,300 lightballs formed out of chicken wire and further lighting displays marking the Christmas holiday, GIL members spend months in preparation for the displays. The group also hosts a five kilometer Electric Walk and Run followed by After Glow parties in May to serve as the group’s largest fundraiser of the year.

According to Rocchi, the group is hoping to get a jump on its light hanging in mid to late October for 2017. The lighting ceremony has traditionally been held in late November. The organization holds a Miss Gallipolis in Lights Pageant to mark part of the celebration and has also held Christmas tree decorating events. Members of the public can post their own trees in City Park to join in the display.

“If you cruise around the park, there are so many out of county license plates,” said Rocchi of the display’s open season. “People come in just to see the lights and many days when I’m down there I don’t recognize a lot of people.”

Rocchi noted that not only did she feel the lighting display lifted the spirits of local visitors but also increased out of town business for area vendors.

“I feel like young kids will think this is the norm,” said Rocchi. “When we were young, we had lights but nothing like now. We think it’s awesome that young kids will remember that when they grow up.”

Gallipolis in Lights started as a series of conversations over social media websites. Gallipolis residents felt that the city, at one point, had become less festive with lighting displays around the holiday season, so individuals banded together to launch the light displays.

The organization brought itself together in the winter of 2013 to spread displays across Gallipolis City Park and hang “light balls” in trees. The idea for the ornament was made popular in Greensboro, N.C., but was quickly adopted to suit Gallipolis’ needs. Individuals skillfully wrap chicken wire, or some other similar fencing material, into a sphere. Christmas lights, or ever-popular LED fixtures, are laced through the wire and then hung on a tree. When done properly, a group of light balls seen in the dark may remind one of a mini-solar system.

By Dean Wright