Manayunk debuts new holiday lights along Main Street

Kevin Hart had a lot of time to ponder the new holiday lights that stretch across Main Street in Manayunk.

Hart, 32, had come to Manayunk’s primary thoroughfare from Audubon, N.J. for a date, and shortly before eight o’clock on Monday evening, he’d been standing on the corner of Main and Rector streets for almost an hour, waiting for the young woman to arrive.

Appraising the outsized electric snowflakes, he said, “I think they’re pretty impressive.”

It was Hart’s first time in Manayunk, and relating that Audubon had no comparable commercial strip or décor, he remarked, “Being from other places, and seeing what other places have, I think it looks really nice.”

Hart’s prospective date, a resident of Manayunk who reportedly lived within walking distance from the corner on which the young man stood, was not immediately available for comment.

Adding to the character of historic Manayunk 

New for winter 2012 in Manayunk are dozens of LED lights that festoon Main St. Connected to opposing building facades, the 22 lights – with one more on the way – are an initiative of the Manayunk Special Services District and the Manayunk Development Corporation.

The nearly $60,000 in funding for the project was provided by the Manayunk Special Services District, the designated business improvement entity that has authority over Main Street from Leverington Avenue to Shurs Lane.

Each installation has approximately 290 LED lights and costs about $4 per fixture to power, explained Jane Lipton, executive director of the MDC. The electricity itself is courtesy of the city.

“They look like something you should see in a district with our historical feel,” said Lipton.

Hoping for a ‘brighter, shinier holiday’ this year 

Lipton explained that she first had the bright idea for the lights three years ago when she signed on to her position a few years ago. The idea eventually took shape this past summer, after she observed that the twinkling tree lights that were a mainstay of Main Street wreaked havoc on both trees and lights alike.

“It wasn’t a sustainable practice,” she said.

Once her plan had taken hold with the MSSD, she reached out to the North Carolina-based firm that had provided the shooting star fixtures that decorate the Main Street corridor, and obtained the custom-made lights that went live on Dec. 1. The lights, which were said to have a ten-year life span, will be maintained and stored by their outfitters.

Lipton said she expects the lights to be in place through February’s Manayunk on Ice event, which she admits is “pushing it a little,” but explained that the shining snowflakes are more about the winter season in general.

Lipton said that she’s already gotten positive feedback on the lights, starting at the Manayunk tree-lighting ceremony.

“It was foggy that day, and the lights just glowed,” she said. “Merchants called me and said, ‘It was worth it.'”

Lipton predicts it will be a “brighter, shinier holiday on Main Street this year.”

Positive reaction along Main Street

On Monday night, Kara Weichler and Caitlin Cavanaugh were taking a leisurely walk down Main Street and paused to comment on the new lights.

“I love them,” said Weichler. “They’re so festive.”

Noting that she and Cavanaugh are both in grad school – PCOM and Arcadia University, respectively –the light served as a pleasing distraction from studying and finals, with both remarking in a seemingly-rehearsed unison, “It’s a pick-me-up.”

Jim and Margaret Tatro of Germantown were also found strolling through Main St. and spoke highly of the new lights.

“I think it looks like a small town main street, and I like that,” said Margaret.

And what became of Mr. Hart?

Several moments later after he put forth his thoughts on the new lights, he and his recently-arrived lady friend were seen walking together, their broad and beaming smiles coming forth from the shadows, lit by the new decorations that hang high above Main Street.

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