Hope Town Square lights up to celebrate season

Hope is having a blue Christmas this year. White, red and green, too.

The sights and the sounds of the season have grown amid a synchronized music and yuletide lights display on the Historic Town Square.

It launched last year on the iconic bandstand. This year, the nearby shelter house also is lit like a Christmas tree and blinking its way through holiday merriment.

Chuck Caldwell, Heritage of Hope vice president and electronics wizard, conceived and expanded the concept that he launched for $2,000 from the nonprofit organization. The expansion this year cost an additional $2,000, also funded by Heritage of Hope.

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The idea sparked from his role with float decorators for Dorel Juvenile Group, where he works, for the company’s entry in the local Festival of Lights Parade. He and others have been talented enough to win the event’s top award for three consecutive years.

“We use the same (synchronization software) technology on the floats that I am using on the square,” Caldwell said.

He recalls being inspired by an extensive home-lights display he saw more than 20 years ago in Versailles. Plus, he loves the gadgetry of being a guitarist for the Beyond Hope rock band, which partly explains his inclusion of a couple edgy tunes from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and other artists ranging from John Mellencamp (“I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus”) to Brenda Lee (“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”).

The display currently runs on a 30-minute loop of about eight songs from 6 to 9 p.m. through Dec. 30. In the next few days, new shows and new songs will be added, Caldwell said.

On nights when the weather may be too chilly to roll down the windows to hear the tunes from the speakers, viewers can tune into 107.7 FM on and near the square to match the songs and synchronization.

“My plan, if Heritage of Hope is willing to continue to support it, is to try to expand this a little more each year,” Caldwell said.

What began with 10,000 lights on the bandstand now features 8,000 more lights on the shelter house.

Heritage of Hope CEO Michael Dean is a fan of the flashy and festive feature.

“I think it’s great,” Dean said. “I know people have gone down to the square just to see the lights. And I’ve heard people in the local restaurants talking about all this, and they say they love it.”

The Rev. Andy Kilps, pastor of Hope Moravian Church, said he and his family have made a family tradition of finding cool Christmas lights while living in other locales such as Wisconsin, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Now, his wife and three children have fallen in love with the rhythmic twinkles on the town square.

“We were pretty amazed to see it,” Kilps said. “And we certainly didn’t miss noticing that it had expanded. We just think it’s great to see a display this big in a town this small.”

Hope light, music display by the numbers

2: Years for the display

$4,000: Total cost for the display

18,000: Number of lights

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.