It was a “Miracle on Mill” on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 21, as 10,000 twinkling lights illuminated the quaint business district of Bristol Borough.
At 6 p.m., hundreds of residents convened behind barricades set up along the street, all excited to celebrate the installation of the town’s newest holiday initiative – each pole along Mill Street was intricately wrapped in a string of brightness, with a festive wreath (also lit up) placed on top.
After attendees enjoyed entertainment by Soul Mates Karaoke and DJ, One Hot Mess and a balloon artist, as well as catering provided by Chuck’s BBQ, Bill Pezza, president of Bristol Borough Raising the Bar, addressed the crowd. Bristolians of all ages let out an ear-shattering cheer when asked if they liked the lights.
“The best small town in America standing on the best main street in America,” Pezza said.
He then took a few moments to explain how this project became reality.
When it came time to start planning this year’s local holiday festivities, Pezza said Raising the Bar (an all-volunteer group that works to promote the town) and Bristol Borough council wanted to expand offerings beyond the annual tree-lighting ceremony (set for Friday, Nov. 29) and Christmas parade (Saturday, Nov. 30).
So, an ambitious plan to add 10,000 lights along Mill Street was constructed. However, it had a price tag of $5,000. Michael Gordon, newly-elected councilmember, began asking merchants if they’d like to contribute to the cause.
The first person Gordon approached was Ken Stephon, CEO of William Penn Bank, which recently opened its corporate headquarters at 10 Canal St. Immediately, Stephon agreed to fund the entire cost. It was his way of saying “thank you” to the community for making him and the rest of the bank’s staff feel instantly part of the borough family.
“When we were looking for a new headquarters for William Penn Bank, as soon as we stepped foot in Bristol Borough, we knew this was the perfect place for us to call home,” Stephon said. “What we soon discovered, as you all know, is that there’s no more welcoming place on the planet than Bristol Borough businesses.”
Stephon and Pennsbury Manor’s resident William Penn presented Pezza, Gordon, Mayor Joe Saxton and council president Ralph DiGuiseppe a blowup check of $5,000.
“It’s really a miracle where we have come in the last 18 years,” said DiGuiseppe, who singled out Gordon for his efforts in helping the light project come to fruition. “We can’t wait until January to have you elected and sitting on that floor with a great team of council people.”
Saxton reminded the crowd of Bristol Borough’s slogan, “Come for the history, stay for the fun,” and stressed that the latter is starting to take precedence.
“It’s always about the history and, in the future, it’s always going to be about the fun,” he said. “This is a continuation of the various programs that we’ve been putting on all throughout the summer, now going into fall/winter time.”
Gordon, bursting with energy, said “Miracle on Mill” was a “warm-up” for Friday’s tree lighting, which is slated to have more lights, entertainment and activities than ever before.
“Bristol is the best place to be,” he said. “This is only the beginning. I want to do this for everyone, everywhere and every street.”
The evening continued with performances by Dancing Divas and Stepping Stone Dance Studio. ••
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com