MERIDEN — City officials roused the eager crowd at Hubbard Park into a countdown. As they reached zero, City Councilor Cathy Battista hit a large red button to light up Hubbard Park as the crowd cheered the start of another season of the annual Festival of Silver Lights.
Families shared refreshments and enjoyed holiday songs sung by the Meriden Youth Theater while waiting for the lights to come on.
“It’s a great night,” said Carolyn Daniels, youth theater director. ”Every year I look forward to the festival. It’s the magic of the season that happens tonight.”
After the lighting, the families began meandering throughout the park to explore the light sculpture displays.
Meriden Director of Parks and Recreation Chris Bourdon said assembling the lights began immediately after Labor Day.
“It takes at least six weeks to get everything set up,” said Bourdon.
This year, Bourdon estimated there are about 325,00 lights in the park. Over the past 30 years, the city increased displays to include approximately 200 figurines.
While no new light figures were added this year, the crews did a little rearranging to make the display feel fresh and new.
Eric Bonaiuto, who attended the festival, said he visits the lights at Hubbard Park every year.
“This is the first time coming with kids,” he said motioning towards four children running about. “It starts the holiday season and with kids, you have to have tradition.”
The lights will remain lit in Hubbard Park every night until Jan. 1.