Being a ‘first-timer’ to Illumination Night, sponsored by the Camp Meeting Association, I found the experience quite … wait for it … illuminating. Going into an event with low expectations is my go to way of always being pleasantly surprised. My wife, my 3-year-old and I arrived pre-dusk and there was anticipation in the air. All the gingerbread cottages were ready for the 8 pm turn- your-lights-on moment.
Visitors were asked to wear masks and a little more than 50 percent of the spectators heeded that request.
At 8 pm when all the houses switch on, the ambience was electric (pun intended) and the busy atmosphere amongst the crowd scurrying to and fro, snapping pictures, and enjoying the glow of the 350-plus little houses. It was quite “boodiful,” as my 3-year-old said.
The pride and participation of the gingerbread homeowners was awe-inspiring as well. Each showing their special creative flair.
I spent my evening searching for my workmate Barbara who lives in one of the brightly painted and ornate-trim adorned homes. This afforded me the opportunity to chat with a dozen or so illuminators, each sharing a small fact or special story about the event.
“Do you know Barbara Davis?” I asked. “Do you know there are 352 cottages here?” was a common response.
When I finally found Barbara and we sat on her porch in the soft glow of her 2021 Olympic lantern, she shared some more stories about the yearly event and its history.
The whole night was pleasantly illuminating.