SOAR Regional Arts, a local performing arts group, typically hosts a holiday concert in early December as one of their year’s largest fundraisers. But Covid has upended their tradition, as it has with so many things this year. Leaning on their creative nature, the leaders at SOAR have reimagined the holiday concert into a new event called Illuminate the Night.
Illuminate the Night is a free event for the community. Local sponsors will fund the creation of decorated trees and light displays along a walking path on the St. Michael City Center’s property (11800 Town Center Drive). The light display will run every evening from dusk to 10 p.m. from December 12-20.
SOAR had planned a kick-off event for the evening of December 12, with live entertainment and concessions, but the Governor’s four-week pause has shifted the kick-off event into a virtual event on SOAR’s Facebook page. This virtual kick-off will include singing, an online silent auction, and watching SOAR members “Illuminate the Night” by turning on the displays for the first night of the event.
Proceeds from the silent auction and lighting displays, along with the option for attendees to text a donation, will fund SOAR’s youth performing art programs. Local sponsors include businesses, organizations, private sponsors, and community members sponsoring memorial tributes on behalf of loved ones.
“We’re hoping to make something that’s like a mini Bentleyville,” SOAR secretary Ellen Beaudry said. “So many things are getting canceled, and we really just wanted to offer something fun for the community to participate in that would still be accessible to people in a safe way.”
If the event goes well, Beaudry said SOAR may continue Illuminate the Night in future years, with opportunities to expand the event in post-Covid holiday seasons to come.