Success of Sioux Falls “Lighting Up the Night” Inspires Statewide Event
On March 30, 2020, Sioux Falls came together to light up the night. The purpose was to show support and appreciation for healthcare workers here and around the world; to spread hope to those who are sick during this pandemic; and to honor businesses that have closed their doors, people who have lost their jobs, and those who are struggling with mental health. The event was an overwhelming success.
As a result, organizer Tony Erickson decided to take the event statewide. “These are trying times for everyone whether you’re a frontline worker, someone who is sick, a business owner that is hurting, or a person trying to work from home and help your children learn,” said Erickson. “But, as South Dakotans, we are strong, we are resilient, and we’re good at being there for one another.”
On or about the night of May 1st, residents, communities, schools, and businesses across the state are invited to go outside to “let it shine.”
Helicopters, planes, and drones will take to the skies, and photographers will be a safe distance on the ground, to capture photos of businesses, schools, and households. Everyone is urged to turn on their lights that night. At the Sioux Falls event, families took to their driveways and yards, using flashlights, fire pits, Christmas lights and everything in between. A Facebook livestream of that event had reached almost 90-thousand people and 36-thousand people engaged in the post.
“As I hung out the side of the helicopter with my camera that night, I was blown away by all the twinkling lights over Sioux Falls. I could see everything and it’s almost hard to put into words,” said Collin McKenzie, partner with Storybuilt Media which helped with the project. “I’m looking forward to seeing what South Dakota looks like all lit up as well.”
In addition to shining hope, the mission is to also raise funds for the South Dakota Community Foundation’s Coronavirus Response Fund. The purpose of the fund is to ensure that South Dakotan’s impacted financially by the pandemic get the financial help and support they need.
“Momentum is building,” said Erickson, “and details continue to come together. We cannot wait to see what our communities come up with to show their support.”
Currently plans are being made to light up school stadiums across the state. Black Hills Aerial Adventures has committed helicopters to the event. And efforts continue to secure drones, videographers, and photographers. Tee shirts are being designed and proceeds from the sale will also go to the Coronavirus Response Fund.
Weather will play the biggest role in the timing of the event. But, for now it is planned for 9:30 pm CST on May 1, 2020.
While organizations and families plan how they will light up the night, safety is encouraged first and foremost. “This is not an invitation for people to gather in large groups,” stresses Erickson. “We need to practice safety and social distancing. Have fun, get creative, but do so in a way that is respectful of everyone’s health and wellness.”
Special thanks to all who are donating their time and talents to the effort: Storybuilt Media, Robb Long Photography, Ascending Innovation, writer Shannon Steffke, musician Kory Van Sickle, and MRG Sports and Promo. More sponsors and individuals will surely be added to the list.
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