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November 6, 2013

Kickstarter campaign lights up Fourth Street

By Linda Shepard
C & G Staff Writer

ROCHESTER — Donations on the last day of the city’s Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the Big, Bright Light Show exceeded the campaign’s goal.

Due to budget cuts, the holiday light show had eliminated Fourth Street from the lighting display. Now, thanks to donations of $28,160, the street will be included in the display area that stretches down Main Street.

“We needed $27,000,” said Stephanie Hellebuyck, event coordinator with the Rochester Downtown Development Authority. “We are really excited we met our goal.” Hellebuyck said 223 people and businesses contributed, many near the campaign’s conclusion Nov. 1. “It all came in on the last day,” she said.

The Big, Bright Light Show has been covering the buildings of downtown Rochester in glimmering holiday lights since 2006. Over the past eight years, the display of more than 1.5 million twinkling lights has expanded to become the largest holiday light display in the Midwest — drawing more than 1 million visitors to the city each year, according to city officials. 

The Kickstarter funds will restore the lights on Fourth Street that serve as the backdrop to the town lighting on Lagniappe and the Kris Kringle Market, held on Fourth Street during the first weekend in December. 

Since Kickstarter’s launch in 2009, 5 million people have pledged $830 million, funding 50,000 creative projects. Contributors pledge online donations and receive creative perks developed by each project.

Downtown Rochester is the first downtown in the country to use Kickstarter for a fundraising project like this, said Kristi Trevarrow, executive director of the Rochester Downtown Development Authority.

“We are all for trying new things here,” Hellebuyck said.

All Kickstarter campaign reward gift certificates were donated by downtown businesses, including the Rochester Chop House, Fieldstone Winery, The Meeting House, Moon River Soap Co., Red Knapp’s, Kimi K Salon and Spa, and more, Trevarrow said. 

This year, the holiday lights will be turned on at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 during Lagniappe, when downtown merchants offer customers small gifts in appreciation for their support. The citywide event will include musical entertainment, reindeer, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and horse-drawn carriage rides.

The light display is held every evening after Lagniappe from 5 p.m.-midnight through Jan. 5. 

The Big, Bright Light Show “is great for all the businesses in downtown,” said Maher Faik, owner of Ganbei, a restaurant on Main Street. “People get to see what Rochester has. It is an exciting thing to see.”

For more information, visit www.DowntownRochesterMI.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Linda Shepard at lshepard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1065.