While I waited to pay for gift bags at the dollar store, I overheard a conversation between the customer ahead of me and the cashier.

Customer: “It’s going to be a cold, cold Light Up Night tonight.”

Cashier: “I don’t mind. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I love the way everyone comes out for it. Light Up Night brings everyone together. We’re blessed to live in such a close community.”

In the past couple of years, my timing has been off with regard to Light Up Night in downtown Bridgeport, WV. I’ve had the bad luck to drive into town just after the revelers had headed home and the tents had come down.

But the Civic Center tree was there, and its bright dancing lights never fail to make me smile. Last year and the year before, I slowed the car to a crawl and took it in, silently vowing not to miss the celebration the next year.

I made good on that promise.

I’m still basking in the afterglow of last week’s Light Up Night. The weather made the evening meant to kick off the Christmas season what it should be. The festivities commenced under a moonlit, starry sky with temperatures that called for knit hats, gloves, and colorful parkas.

I arrived cocooned in a fleece coat with my ski headband pulled over my ears. I forgot my gloves and was thankful for the pockets in my fleece.

Note to self: Do NOT forget gloves next year.

I made a loop to check out the treats and activities provided by city businesses. Hot chocolate, kettle corn, pizza, and more were available at the tents that lined both sides of the street.

The chill in the air didn’t scare anyone. A cold night never keeps a true West Virginian from a celebration.

I’m not a betting girl, but if I were, I’d bet that most Bridgeport homes were dark last Thursday from 6 PM – 8 PM. All—and I do mean all—were strolling along the happy, Christmas-lit, pedestrian-only Main Street.

I found a spot on a top stair and surveyed what looked like a live Norman Rockwell painting. It could have been titled “Christmas in My Hometown.”  

Parents pushed strollers and wagons laden with bundled-up babies and toddlers. Kids and adults pocketed candy canes and sipped apple cider or hot chocolate. People chatted with friends and family. Some gathered around a bonfire and warmed their hands.

From one corner to the next, live music accompanied the hustle, bustle, smiles, and laughter.

If forced to choose my favorite part of the evening, I’d say, “The warmth.” True, it was a cold first night of December. But even a stranger who came upon Light Up Night by chance would have been warmed by the easy camaraderie along the crowded street.

I know I was.

The frigid temps didn’t even come to mind as I was granted one opportunity after another to catch up with old friends. I’m talking about the kind of friends who truly want to know the answer when they ask, “How have you been? How’s the family?”

The secure sense of kinship between friends and neighbors in Bridgeport, as well as surrounding Harrison County towns, is a gift no one should take for granted. 

The cashier at the dollar store was correct—to be a part of such a close community is a blessing.

Everyday Life Friends & Family Uncategorized

VievesVine View All →

writer, blogger, columnist

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