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Spreading Joy: Harbor Lights in Branford Dec. 18

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Just before dark on Dec. 18, dozens of volunteers and residents who plan to participate will light thousands of small bags filled with sand and a single candle, creating a dazzling string of lights stretching from the seawall and park at Branford Point's Parker Memorial Park (shown here in 2020), to area homes and streets intersecting with Harbor Street and beyond. This year proceeds benefit Community Dining Room.

Photo Courtesy Rob Kovi

Just before dark on Dec. 18, dozens of volunteers and residents who plan to participate will light thousands of small bags filled with sand and a single candle, creating a dazzling string of lights stretching from the seawall and park at Branford Point's Parker Memorial Park (shown here in 2020), to area homes and streets intersecting with Harbor Street and beyond. This year proceeds benefit Community Dining Room. (Photo courtesy Rob Kovi)

Now in its third year, Harbor Lights will spread joy in the Branford Point area, and beyond, on Saturday, Dec. 18, with more luminaries than ever planned to be on display. Proceeds from luminary kits sold by the event's volunteer organizers will benefit Community Dining Room (CDR) of Branford.

Just before dark on Dec. 18, dozens of volunteers and residents who plan to participate will light thousands of small bags filled with sand and a single candle, creating a dazzling string of lights stretching from the seawall and park at Branford Point's Parker Memorial Park, to area homes and streets intersecting with Harbor Street and beyond.

For example, this year's growing display will also include lights over on Maple Street starting at the Anchor Reef condominium on the Branford River, said event founder Rob Kovi.

"Just last weekend, we got a large purchase from residents who all live in Anchor Reef, so the Reef is going to light everything from 60 Maple Street all the way to the corner of Harbor Street," said Kovi, where a homeowner on the corner of Maple and Harbor has also purchased luminaries, which will light the way onto Harbor Street and past several surrounding, participating neighborhoods.

Another new area for more luminaries this year is Goodsell Point Road, where Branford Yacht Club will be an active participant, said Kovi, a BYC member. The yacht club is partnering with Harbor Lights and will be open to anyone who would like to visit and warm themselves by a firepit, enjoy a hot cocoa or something from the club's Props Bar, he noted.

"They've purchased a few hundred luminaries and they're going line the grounds with them," he said. "And because the club is involved, we've also sold more luminaries to homes on Goodsell Point Road this year. There's also a new location, a resident with a home on the corner of Harbor and Goodsell with a large piece of property, who's going to be involved this year. So that house will help guide people from Harbor Street onto Goodsell Point Road." 

Over at Parker Memorial Park, Sweet Treats food truck will be on hand with items for sale, which is also new this year, said Kovi.

Kovi, a past Person of the Week, was a relatively new resident of the area when he originated Harbor Lights in 2019. He created the event as a way to build community while also raising money for a good cause. The first Harbor Lights got off the ground with help from his neighbor Sally Esborn and several others who all continue to man the annual event.

"We definitely have a core group; and we also have people serving as street captains," said Kovi.

He said the number of day-of-event volunteers is also increasing to match the growth of the event.

"The other thing that's growing is the number of people who come out to help set them up in the park," on event day, said Kovi, adding more are welcome. "We usually get out there at about 10 in the morning to start setting up the bags."

In 2019, Harbor Lights raised over $1,100 for CDR. Last year, during the heart of the pandemic, Harbor Lights raised $3,000 to assist programs of the Branford Community Foundation.

"This year, we should be able to do the same for the Community Dining Room," said Kovi, who expects to raise another $3,000 from Harbor Lights on Dec. 18.

To raise funds, Harbor Lights sells luminaries 10 for $12 which can be set up by donors at their homes or contributed to light the sea wall and park at Parker Memorial Park. Regardless of your location, anyone is encouraged to purchase luminaries for their home or for the park, said Kovi.

"We still have some luminaries left, plenty to allow it to grow," he said.

Interested residents are welcome to contact Kovi or Esborn or follow the group on Facebook to learn about purchasing luminaries or making a donation, email robert.kovi@gmail.com or Sallysells@mosaic247.net The group has also been selling luminaries at the park during weekends, with advance notice posted on Facebook at HarborLightsBranfordCT.

The growing tradition and presence of Branford Harbor Lights is something Kovi said he's hoped for, all along.

"I kind of imagined that it would grow, but I'm excited and happy to see that it is growing. It's such a wonderful night and people enjoy it," said Kovi. "Maybe someday it will be on the Branford green, and light all the sidewalks around the green. It's beautiful when it's all lit up."

Branford Harbor Lights to benefit Community Dining Room is set for Saturday, Dec. 18 at dark with a rain date of Saturday, January 8, 2022.


Pam Johnson covers news for Branford and North Branford for Zip06. Email Pam at p.johnson@shorepublishing.com.

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