Celebrating Springfield's Biggest, Best and Brightest

The holiday season is such a magical time.  Lit snowflakes line Main Street.  A fountain of light flows in Court Square.  Holiday music filled Symphony Hall, and every night until January 1, more than 650,000 lights will illuminate a 3-mile drive through Forest Park.
Our goal is to enliven the holiday spirit in all of us and to bring the community together in celebration.
Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Kwanzaa!
- Judy Matt 
Bright Nights Bustling with Visitors
Word has spread across the Commonwealth.  Visitors are traveling to Springfield from all six New England states, New York and beyond to drive through Seuss Land, Toy Land, Winter Woods and make a stop at Santa's Magical Forest.
"Where did you come from?" we asked.  "Just Worcester."
"How did you hear about Bright Nights?" a question we posed to a driver with a Rhode Island license plate.  "An article on-line.  No.  A friend's Facebook post." 
At the front gate, greeters are gathering a sampling of zip codes that will provide better insight into where visitors are traveling from.
Bright Nights Collaborations
For 23 years, the Spirit of Springfield and the Springfield Department of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management have been collaborating on Bright Nights at Forest Park.  That, however, is just the beginning. 
For many years, the Springfield Police Department has been maintaining the low-frequency radio broadcast in the park.  This year, they took it one step further.  At their recommendation, a pole was erected by the Springfield Department of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management in Santa's Magical Forest for an antenna, camera and light. 
The Springfield Police Department installed the cameras donated by Goosetown Communications, and the City of Springfield's Information Technology Department made the necessary connections. 
There is also a camera at the front gate to monitor traffic flow.  Take a look!
Holiday Sounds with the 215th Army Band
They started with a fife and drum and finished with more than 40 band members on stage for a holiday concert in Springfield Symphony Hall on December 10.  It has become a tradition that Mercy Medical Center has sponsored for many years.
Colonel James Suhr, Commander of 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes Air National Guard Base, Colonel D. Scott Durham, Wing Commander of the 439th Airlift Wing at Westover Air Reserve Base, Mark Fulco, President of Mercy Medical Center, and Brian Lapis, Meteorologist at WWLP-22News opened the concert with Spirit of Springfield President Judy Matt.

A highlight of the performance was when retiring officer Sergeant First Class Steven Cohen was featured playing "The Golden Age of the Xylophone."  He received a standing ovation.  Another was when Santa came on stage to dance with a member of the band.
Thanks to the 215th Army Band for entertaining Springfield!

Reflections on the Year
2017 has been a great year for the Spirit of Springfield!  We held our traditional events from the World's Largest Pancake Breakfast to the Parade of the Big Balloons.  We filled Springfield Symphony Hall with music with The President's Own U. S. Marine Band and the 215th Army Band of the Massachusetts Army National Guard.
We were honored to play a role in the opening of Springfield's Union Station.  It was a weekend that will live on in Springfield's history books.
We also welcomed two new members to the Board -- Sarah Moore, Vice President Brand Marketing & Retail for MGM Springfield, and Chris Russell, Executive Director at the Springfield Business Improvement District.
The Spirit of Springfield is thankful for the many corporate donors, the volunteers, and the thousands of people who support the events with their participation.
Check out a year full of photos!
In This Issue
Bright Nights Bustling with Visitors
Bright Nights Collaborations
Holiday Sounds with 215th Army Band
Reflections on the Year
Guest Column - Major General Gary Keefe
Bright Nights Discount Tickets
Guest Column

Major General Gary W. Keefe
The Adjutant General
Massachusetts National Guard

Each year, like a little kid I look forward to the many holiday events that the City of Springfield organizes.  From the official holiday "kick off" with the Bright Nights Ball, to the Parade of Big Balloons, and the annual Holiday Concert at Symphony Hall performed by the Massachusetts National Guard's 215th Army Band. 

However my favorite holiday event is the Bright Nights and its annual Military and First Responder Appreciation Night.  This year on November 29th, those of us fortunate to serve our citizens and our nation, and privileged to have the honor to wear the uniform of our Military, Police, Fire, and Emergency Medical Technicians are invited with our families each year on this night to enjoy the holiday magic of Bright Nights.  It also provides the leadership of our military units and first responder departments to greet the many Bright Nights visitors at the entrance, and thank you, the public, for the unwavering support Springfield, and the communities of the Pioneer Valley throughout Western Massachusetts have always shown your men and women who wear the military, police, fire, and emergency medical response uniforms, and raised their right hands to swear an oath to protect this great nation and our citizens.

What makes this season so special is how the City of Springfield continues to lead the way in creating the magic of the holiday season.  The Spirit of Springfield is a great organization, that continues to raise the bar on creative and innovative ideas and events that both showcase what make Springfield a great place to live, work, and raise families.  It capitalizes on both the diversity of culture and thought of its citizens, to make "The City of Homes" the leader in holiday events throughout New England. 

I want to thank Judy Matt for her energy, enthusiasm, and team building skills for continuing to offer these types of events to all of us who call Western Massachusetts home.  Judy and her dedicated team, along with Mayor Dom Sarno and the elected Springfield leadership continue to help make the holidays special while creating holiday traditions for the next generations.

As I career military officer, I want to thank Judy Matt, The Spirit of Springfield Team, and the citizens of Springfield for allowing all of us who wear the uniform of our military, or first responders for your unwavering support in our missions, and for allowing us to be part of these holiday traditions each year.
Happy Holidays!

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The Spirit of Springfield is a private, non-profit corporation
which produces high-quality, large-scale events in the city of Springfield.
Our mission is to promote community events and encourage civic pride.

Celebrating Springfield's  Biggest, Best and Brightest!