NEWTON GROVE — The Circle of Lights is a holiday tradition held in the town’s roundabout. But that may change in the future.
Lark Thornton, a member of the Citizens Improving Newton Grove (CING) committee, presented an idea to move the event to another location in 2017 because of safety and convenience matters.
Each year hundreds of community members show up for the event with church choirs performing Christmas songs. During the event, members of town board read names in remembrance. Trees and signs are lighted in honor of loved ones. Last year, a live nativity scene was the highlight of the program.
During Monday night’s Newton Grove Board of Commissoners meeting, Thornton said she was on the fence about the event’s location and understands the history of being in the circle. But she brought up several reasons why some may want to see it move.
“One of the main reasons is to grow, so we can have it expanded with more people in attendance,” Thornton said.
Another reason was safety and traffic.
“Not every year is going to be like last year, but it was very foggy,” Thornton said. “We’re concerned about the people crossing the areas coming onto the circle. You had large transfer trucks coming around last year.”
Although the police help out during the event, Thornton said it may not be enough to always protect parents and younger pedestrians.
Ideas for relocation were the Monk House or Weeks Park. Thornton believes the event will provide better parking at facilities adjacent to the locations.
An additional reason to relocate was noise complaints.
“I went last year and it was awesome,” she said. “I can’t explain what I got out of it last year, but you had transfer trucks coming around the circle and you couldn’t hear things real easy.”
Newton Grove began celebrating the Circle of Lights in 1998 after Sue Vernon and Gail Darden started the event with help from the defunct Newton Grove Area 100 Committee and town members. To expand the event, Thornton brought up an idea to bring in outside groups to sell treats and refreshments for fundraisers. CING members also brought up having an open house for local business owners.
“It’s given people the opportunity to come in and purchase things from our businesses,” she said.
Commissioner Cody Smith questioned where they would put the nativity scene while mentioning the phrase, “All Roads Lead to Newton Grove.” Thornton said some churches may be interested in setting up the scene at the Monk House.
Mayor Gerald Darden said officials involved were adamant about having it in the circle, but mentioned how alternatives may be considered in the future.
“It’ll give us a year to talk about it, plan and get our thoughts together,” Darden said.
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