Nov 23, 2018 | By: Rachel Johnson

Bemidji Jaycees Host Annual “Night We Light” Celebration

Now that Thanksgiving is over, many consider the Christmas season to officially be here. The Bemidji Jaycees held their annual Night We Light Celebration tonight to kick off the holidays.

“Today is kind of the culmination of a year’s long worth of planning and hard work. Today is the big Night We Light celebration,” said Josh Peterson, Bemidji Jaycees First City of Lights Co-Chair.

This year’s Night We Light was bigger than ever.

“We’ve taken and we’ve grown this even from last year to this year. We added – I think the grand total was seven new things,” said Bemidji Jaycees First City of Light Co-Chair Taylor Kummet-Hiltz.

“This is really the largest Night We Light celebration the city of Bemidji has ever had,” added Peterson.

New this year is Paul Bunyan’s Christmas Tree, a 56-foot-tall metal tree with 20,000 LED lights.

“We’ve always wanted to have a town Christmas tree, but we knew we had to do something big and grand, and what better way to do it than a 56-foot tall metal tree that is set to music?” explained Peterson.

The tree was made possible through a donation by Paul Bunyan Communications.

“When we were approached about the potential of the Paul Bunyan tree, obviously Paul Bunyan’s our namesake, and this is our home town for our cooperative and has been since the beginning,” said Brian Bissonette, Paul Bunyan Communications Marketing Supervisor. “It was just a natural, I think, for us to be involved and help make this a reality.”

The Night We Light parade and ceremony is the cap to a multitude of other events being held for the First City of Lights.

“We do have a lot going on. We have Santa’s Workshop which is in full swing. We have everything from crafts to pictures with Santa,” explained Kummet-Hiltz.

“You can make some ornaments, enjoy some Christmas treats, and vote for their favorite downtown window display and also pick up the map for the tour of homes which kicks off today as well,” said Peterson.

The First City of Lights has been going on for 22 years. The Jaycees took over the festivities in 2014.

“It’s taking leaps and bounds this year, obviously with the addition of the 56-foot Paul Bunyan tree, but also the addition of hundreds of thousands of lights. I mean, it’s going to be bigger and better than ever before, so the tradition that was started years ago is only getting much, much bigger thanks to the Jaycees,” added Bissonette.

The Night We Light has been an important and looked forward to tradition for the area every year.

“It’s been a family tradition for me even since I was little. I couldn’t even walk and I was at my very first First City of Lights. My family’s been going for so many years, and now I get to keep that tradition up and hopefully future generations can come and enjoy the same things that I did, but on a greater level,” said Kummet-Hiltz.

Santa’s Workshop will be open tomorrow from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Tourist Information Center at Paul Bunyan Park.

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