GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis in Lights switched on again for its fifth season in City Park Wednesday and brought along an explosive new surprise as fireworks served as the evening’s capstone attraction.
Miss Gallipolis in Lights Alexis Wothe flipped the “light switch” and State Representative Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) served as an honorary guest at the event. A pyrotechnic and fireworks display was launched by Legendary Entertainment and sponsored by Holzer Health System in the public use area of the park.
“We certainly hope we can turn it (the fireworks attraction) into an annual thing,” said GIL Committee member Shari Rocchi. “We feel like it went over really well.”
Christmas trees erected by organizations and individuals as part of the GIL Tree Walk in City Park previously numbered around 80 in past years but have grown to 160 this year.
“We started with just (local) schools who put up trees by the (Santa House along First Avenue),” said Shari. “It’s just grown every year.”
“The trees really help in the park and we feel like it gives the community a sense of belonging with Gallipolis in Lights,” said co-committee member Angie Rocchi. “It makes people a part of making it all happen and it helps us.”
According to Shari, GIL started as an idea born from social media around five years ago. While visiting a light display in Ashland, Ky., she was was impacted by the experience and wanted to bring something similar to Gallipolis. Shari started a conversation with GIL co-founder Lance Clifford who shared her feelings. Clifford has been credited with bringing light balls to GIL after seeing similar balls in Greensboro, N.C. Clifford, Shari and GIL members then discussed and sought community feedback across social media before deciding to approach City Commissioners about the possibility of erecting light displays in the park.
GIL members start hanging lights in October and traditionally hold the official lighting ceremony the night before Thanksgiving. Over 1,300 light balls have been hung in the park and that does not include the organization’s ground light display efforts.
“I hope (GIL) will be a tradition for families as a way to bring pride back into the community, to Gallipolis and to kickoff the holidays,” said Shari.
“It’s about togetherness,” said Angie.
The organization will also be hosting its annual Gala dinner fundraiser Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. at the Elks Lodge on Second Avenue.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342.