In no particular order, paraders will include the Amerscot Highland Pipers, the Poughkeepsie High School Jazz Ensemble, the Poughkeepsie Middle School Choir, the Poughkeepsie Exempt Firemen's Association Color Guard, DARE!, the Arlington Rotary Club, the Columbia Elementary School PTA, the Dutchess County Girl & Boy Scouts, a brass ensemble composed of members of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and Thunder Road Cruisers with a tasty sample of classic cars.
Arm of the Sea Theatre, a traveling puppet troupe, will be appearing, as will IABAS, a traditionally styled Brazilian women's band, accompanied by 200 students from the Waring, Clinton and Circle of Courage Elementary Schools. Al's Garage in Poughkeepsie will be supplying the hayride float, and the Big Guy Himself (Santa, or course) will bring up the rear on a City of Poughkeepsie firetruck. At 7:15, a winter fireworks display, courtesy of Legion Fireworks, will make the Hudson glitter.
The Celebration of Lights is a cooperative effort of the City of Poughkeepsie, the Bardavon 1869 Opera House and the Poughkeepsie River District Business Association. Participating restaurants promise to keep the fun going with specials and entertainment afterwards. Those include Caffe Aurora, Milanese, Noah's Ark, Spanky's, River Station and Amici's. According to Lou Stapoli of Caffe Aurora, there's no one source of information on who's where, so call ahead for performers and times.
Instead of the restaurant/bar scene, families may want to opt instead for a showing of perhaps the season's favorite film at the Bardavon. First released in 1946, at the tail end of the Second World War, Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life still serves as an affirming tale for those who think that their lives have had no impact. Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, at her most luminous, star. There have been parodies, there have been accusations that it's corny and sentimental; I defy you to sit through it and not be uplifted, not believe in angels.
The movie itself starts at 8 p.m., but will be preceded by a mini-concert on the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ. These concerts are presented exclusively by the New York Theatre Organ Society and are included in the $5 ticket price. The Bardavon is located at 35 Market Street, and a parking garage is nearby. For more information, call (845) 473-2072. I can hear a bell ringing already...