Lights festival to spotlight Stamford

Updated 10:17 pm, Wednesday, September 19, 2012

STAMFORD -- Parties, fairs, and other events throughout the city are being promoted as a festive backdrop for the debut of a system of LED lights at the train station Saturday night.

A block party at Harbor Point on Saturday, weekend crafts festival on Bedford Street and memorial motorcycle ride Sunday are among the events billed as showcasing the city's neighborhoods around the "soft launch" of the lights at a ribbon cutting Saturday night.

City officials worked with organizations to pack the StamfordLights Festival Weekend with events from Thursday to Sunday in anticipation of the lighting system's debut, city Economic Development Director Laure Aubuchon said.

Mayor Michael Pavia will preside over a lighting ceremony at 8 p.m. Saturday.

"We're hoping everybody is almost as excited as we are and we get some people to come down at 8 p.m. for the debut," Aubuchon said.

Technicians and designers have been installing the lights, which will follow grooves in the train station building.

On Wednesday, four banks of flood lights had been installed on a roof adjacent to the building to illuminate it in a wash of color, said Jamie Burnett, owner of the New Haven-based Luminous Environments and one of the designers of the $142,000 project.

Organizers of events said they were eager to schedule their events to be part of a citywide celebration of their neighborhoods and the lighting display as a piece of outdoor art.

The 12th annual Arts & Crafts on Bedford, which will run from 12:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 to 5 p.m. Sunday, has booked a record-high 101 craft vendors selling everything from candles to birdhouses and quilts to dog treats, Downtown Special Service District President Sandy Goldstein said. She also said that several city-based corporations and businesses were considering following the city's lead to create outdoor artistic lighting displays.

"I think it is going to be just an exciting and very low-cost way to brand the city," Goldstein said.

Harbor Point is hosting its first South End block party from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., said T.J. White, a spokesman for Building & Land Technology, the developer of a $3.5 billion, 80-acre development.

White said he hopes some participants of the event -- which will include fare from restaurants such as Le Pain Quotidien, Harlan Social and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que -- will attend the ceremony.

Before the lighting, Pavia will host a cocktail party to benefit his Youth Employment Program starting at 6:30 p.m. at Morton's The Steakhouse. Tickets are $100, $75 of which is tax deductible.

On the West Side earlier in the day, the Yerwood Center will hold a health fair and Harvest Festival at Fairgate Farm on Stillwater Avenue, said Eva Weller, project coordinator of the East Side Partnership.

Services will include glucose testing and mammograms, as well as information on various health issues, Weller said.

"What is exciting about this event is that every neighborhood is participating in offering something special in conjunction with Stamford Lights," Weller said.

Aubuchon said the station lighting display should be fully installed within the next two weeks.

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