Twinkling lights — lots of them — will light up Central Park as never before at Christmas time.
The Rotary Club of Naperville Sunrise plans to add new brilliance to the collection of downtown decor from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day with Naper Lights, a pedestrian-friendly collection of holiday light displays and other illuminating features in the Naperville park on the eastern edge of the city’s retail core.
The Rotarians will flip the switch on the displays from Thursday through Sunday during the season, with free admission and any freewill donations going to charity.
The seasonal project seemed like a great fit for the local organization, its president said.
“We wanted to do something that was consistent with our mission, which is to serve youth and young adults while serving the needs of our business community,” said John Nania, who had seen a few similar projects done by Rotary groups elsewhere. “We fell in love with the idea, and Naperville is a great place for this kind of thing.”
Marquette Companies, developer of the Water Street hotel-retail complex soon to be constructed, and Ryan Hill Realty are the presenting sponsors for the display.
“It was nice of them to step up, especially for a new event without any track record,” Nania said, though he pointed out that the Sunrise Rotary group is well established in the community and has put on many events over the 22 years since it was established. “We have a reputation for over-delivering.”
Marquette managing partner Nick Ryan said he and his wife Teresa Ryan, owner of Ryan Hill, have a special fondness for the holiday season and are looking forward to helping brighten up the downtown.
“To be able to help Sunrise Rotary raise money to help young people who will be our future leaders is icing on the cake,” he said in a news release.
Local accounting firm Sikich LLC this week also signed on as a major sponsor, Nania said, and additional business supporters are being welcomed. Volunteers also are needed to be on site during open times, which might include daytime hours in addition to weekend evenings.
The collection of displays will have a winter wonderland theme. The inaugural light show will feature five large displays purchased from a company in Oswego, in addition to decorated light poles and trees in the park, which is owned by the Naperville Park District.
“Eventually it will grow much larger, but this is our starter kit,” Nania said.
That translates to “literally hundreds of thousands of lights,” he said. He is certain the number will increase as the years pass and the light show becomes a little brighter with each succeeding season, steadily evolving into a cherished piece of the yuletide traditions in Naperville — and perhaps other places much farther away as well.
“I want NASA to be able to recognize us from space,” Nania said.