Lights brighten up local businesses in downtown Rochester


Nicole Morsfield

The Big, Bright Light Show in downtown Rochester attracts many to the local businesses in the spirit of the holidays.

Trevor Tyle, Staff Reporter

What’s better during Christmas, the snow or the lights?

Monday, Nov. 20 marked the start of the holiday season in downtown Rochester, as residents and business owners alike gathered for the Big, Bright Light Show, an annual event that quite literally illuminates the whole town.

This year an estimated 1.5 million lights were used, a number nearly matched by the millions of people who come to view the lights every year, according to the Rochester Gazette. It takes over a month to cover the local businesses in the festive lights. By Oct. 2, crews had already begun the preparation for the big show, which extends from the South Bridge on Main Street to University Drive. Additional buildings on Fourth Street are also decorated with lights.

“The Rochester lights are a great way to bring the holiday spirit to a historic town,” said resident Myles Murphy, one of many in attendance at the kickoff celebration.

The event, which coincided with Rochester’s annual Lagniappe celebration—“lagniappe” means “a little something extra” in Creole—included free carriage rides, street carolers and the opportunity for children to visit with Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and their reindeer.

Since it began in 2006, the display has become a staple in many locals’ holiday celebrations.

“Many years ago, it was tradition for families to drive around the neighborhoods and look at the light displays,” said local business owner Pamela Krampf of Antiques and Fine Jewelry by Pamela. “’The Big, Bright Light Show’ continues the old tradition in a big way.”

The annual spectacle is just 10 minutes from Oakland University’s main campus, it a much sought-out holiday attraction for OU students.

“I would totally recommend other students give it a try, especially if they come from a town that doesn’t do something like that,” said freshman Kendall Niestroy. “I’m not from around here and have only heard about the Rochester lights, [but have] never seen them, so it was a really cool experience for me.”

The “Big, Bright Light Show” exposes many of the local businesses to the show’s millions of spectators.

“Of course for businesses, including mine, it helps remind our customers we are here, and [it’s] the opportunity for new customers to find us,” Krampf said. “I am grateful to supporters of “the Big, Bright Light Show.”

The positive impacts of the show expand beyond exposure. Many businesses experience a significant increase in sales as a result.

“The lights downtown definitely give our sales a huge boost,” added Andy Buss from the shop MI State of Mind. “For about a month, we are able to count on two or three days per week of extremely good sales. They turn a ‘really good’ downtown location into one of the best in the state.”

The light show will run from 5:00 p.m. to midnight every night through Jan. 7, 2018. For more information, visit the city website.