Holiday season hits downtown Rochester

“5..4..3..2..1..Light the town!”

In a countdown led by Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, locals gathered at Fourth and Main Streets in downtown Rochester, Monday to welcome the holiday season with the debut of the Big Bright Light show.

Young and old gathered to watch the over 1.5 million lights illuminate the streets of downtown Rochester.

In its sixth year, the light show featured the Meadow Brook Carolers, a visit from Santa Claus and a tradition known as Lagniappe.

During Lagniappe, which means “a little something extra” in Creole, businesses in downtown Rochester are encouraged to offer “a little something extra” to their customers.

Twinsite Optical and Flagstar Bank both handed out free neon and 3-D glasses. The Dragonfly Boutique offered a 15 percent discount coupon and employees of Goldfingers Salon handed out caramels and cocoa to visitors.

Dan DeClark, owner of Legends of Time, offered cookies and a psychic reading to the customers of his Native American art gallery.

Stores also have extended hours during Lagniappe. Some stores, like Lytle Pharmacy, have begun offering extended hours until the end of the holiday season.

ReSALE Connections opened its doors Monday night, when it is normally closed.

Sue Burback, an employee at the store, said Lagniappe is an opportunity to “give a little something back when people buy something.”

In the spirit of giving, the Rochester Area Neighborhood House collected donations of new socks and shoes for “Kicks for a Cause,” and volunteers from the Rochester Rotary Club donated an hour of their time to collect money as Salvation Army bell ringers.

Rochester Rotary Club president, Karen Lewis, said members of her organization volunteer every year for the Salvation Army during the holiday season and she encourages young adults to contact the Salvation Army or Rotary Club to volunteer.

In addition to the light show, children were given the opportunity to visit Santa Claus and two of his reindeer.

Businesses will continue to light up downtown Rochester every night from 6 p.m. to midnight every night until January 1, 2012.