Big, Bright Light Show, Lagniappe to help brighten the holiday season

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published November 14, 2017

 Angela Amman and her kids, Abbey and Dylan, of Rochester Hills, look at the  window at the Home Bakery during last year’s Lagniappe.

Angela Amman and her kids, Abbey and Dylan, of Rochester Hills, look at the window at the Home Bakery during last year’s Lagniappe.

File photo by Donna Agusti

ROCHESTER — It isn’t the holidays in Rochester until Main Street shines with a light display that puts Clark Griswold’s house from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” to shame.

This year, downtown Rochester will officially transform into a glimmering spectacular when the Big, Bright Light Show switch is flipped Monday, Nov. 20, during the 45th annual Lagniappe festival.

“It is the official kickoff of our holiday shopping season, and it’s a Rochester tradition,” said Downtown Development Authority Director Kristi Trevarrow. “People always make memories on the night of Lagniappe.”

Trevarrow said Lagniappe, which comes from the Creole word meaning “a little something extra,” was developed as a way for downtown merchants to celebrate the holiday season by giving back to their customers in the form of discounts, giveaways and other special offers. This year’s Lagniappe will be held 6-9 p.m.

“We have tried to mix things up on Lagniappe, and we’ve found people just like exactly what we do,” Trevarrow said.

Hillary Heacock, who owns Studio One Salon, said her salon is always open Lagniappe night because her staff loves the excitement and the crowds.

“Everybody is excited to see the lights — and Santa, for the kids,” she said.

For Lagniappe, Heacock said, the salon typically offers product discounts, special gift baskets and certificates for customers. The shop has participated in the event since it opened 13 years ago.

“The merchants do an amazing job of doing their windows and having specials that evening, so the shopping experience is really just as fun as seeing the lights,” she said.

At 6:45 p.m. on East Fourth Street, the Big, Bright Light Show program will begin with help from Channel 7’s Dave LewAllen and a special appearance by Santa Claus.

The light switch on the 12th annual display will be flipped at 7 p.m., setting the buildings aglow along Main Street, beginning at the South Bridge and extending to University Drive. The buildings on Fourth Street, from Walnut Boulevard to Water Street, will also be covered in lights.  

“The lights are a huge attraction. For a lot of people, it has become a part of their tradition to be here on opening night, even though they may come back other times in the season,” Trevarrow said. “We haven’t heard about any this year, but usually we do have people that get engaged at Lagniappe. We have people who come down to get their wedding pictures in front of the show, and some people actually come down and carol with their family and friends.”

On the first year of the Big, Bright Light Show, Trevarrow said, building owners and tenants were given the option of picking their own light colors.

“If you picked a color, it was fine, as long as your neighbor didn’t pick the same color,” she explained. “And as we rotated new colors in, we’ve gone to some businesses that we knew weren’t too excited about their color.”

Today, the show features 10 different colors of LED lights.

“The only color we currently don’t have in the show is candy cane, which is the white and red. Who knows? In the future, we might pull the trigger on that one, but right now, we haven’t gotten that one in the show,” Trevarrow said.

Following the lighting, kids will have an opportunity to share their Christmas lists with Santa at 7:15 p.m. near Fourth and Main streets. There will be free horse-drawn carriage rides 6-9 p.m. at East Third Street and Walnut Boulevard.

The Big, Bright Light Show, the largest event hosted by downtown Rochester, will continue to run 5 p.m.-midnight through Jan. 8.

“We put our most resources into this event, both from a time and a financial perspective, but it is also the event that produces the highest return for us as well,” said Trevarrow.

For more information, call (248) 656-0060 or visit www.DowntownRochesterMI.com.