Community to help turn on hundreds of lights

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This year’s L.L. Bean Northern Lights holiday celebration will be new from the get-go, as members of the public will have a hand in lighting up not one, but hundreds of Christmas trees during opening ceremonies at 6:45 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 18.

The more than 500 trees that make up Discovery Forest replace the old dancing, music-playing tree. The new Northern Lights also will have a Reindeer Barn with two real reindeer, a Night Sky Dome with a depiction of the Northern Lights inside and, inside the L.L. Bean Flagship Store, a Model Train Village created by the Boothbay Rail Village.

Freeport Players will have a hand in the brief opening ceremonies, which should end at around 7, according to L.L. Bean publicist Eric Smith. There will be free hot chocolate for all.

“All the hundreds of trees in Discovery Park, plus the overhead canopy of lights, and all the lights around L.L Bean will be lit, but not all at once,” Smith said. “This will be the crowd participating. There will be some carol singing, which will be led by Freeport Players.”

Todd Gutner, WCHS television meteorologist, will be the master of ceremonies.

“After the opening ceremony, we really want people to go out and explore everything,” Smith said. “The lights are going to be quite spectacular. We think this will be the largest display of illuminated Christmas trees that people will have ever seen.”

Nancy Salmon, board member for Freeport Players, said that she conferred last Friday to finalize plans for the community theater group’s role in the Northern Lights opening ceremonies.

“We’re doing a short radio skit that we worked on specifically for this opening,” Salmon said. “It has to do with the forest coming alive. We’ll have five characters on the balcony near the L.L. Bean Boot, reproducing a sound stage. The actors will read at microphones like a sound stage on a radio show. There will be sound effects, such as the rustling of packages through the forest.”

Salmon said that Freeport Players will provide guitarists to accompany the holiday songs.

“We’re pretty excited about this,” she said. “The timing is good, because we have our ‘WFCP Home Time Radio Show’ production coming right up.”

“The WFCP Home Time Radio Show,” a Freeport Players holiday show, is scheduled for Dec. 2-4 at the Freeport Performing Arts Center, 7:30 on Friday and Saturday nights and 2 on Sunday. Tickets can be purchased for $10 at www.fcponline.org or at Maine Wicked Goods Mercantile, or for $15 at the door.

Northern Lights will be open daily, 9 a.m.-9 p.m., through New Year’s Eve. The Reindeer Barn will be open daily, as well, but the two reindeer will be in the Reindeer Barn only on weekend. On the other side of the barn, Santa Claus will greet children on weekends, beginning on Dec. 3, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

The model train in the Children’s Section at L.L. Bean is ready for visitors when Northern Lights begins on Friday night, Nov. 18.