Light Up Louisville counts on UofL crowd to boost celebration - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Light Up Louisville counts on UofL crowd to boost celebration

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The band A Lion Named Roar set up to perform during Light Up Louisville. The band A Lion Named Roar set up to perform during Light Up Louisville.
Jeanette Westbrook Jeanette Westbrook
Jackie Beard Jackie Beard
Wayne Hettinger Wayne Hettinger
The Run, Run Rudolph 5K took place Friday morning. The Run, Run Rudolph 5K took place Friday morning.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The first sound checks always take longest. For nearly an hour the members of 'A Lion Named Roar' set levels for keyboard, guitar, percussion and vocals for a set that would last about 20 minutes. The band's name could well be a metaphor for the second year that Light Up Louisville has launched the countdown to Christmas from Main Street.

"You're gonna see more lights in downtown Louisville than we've ever had," promised Wayne Hettinger, the producer of Light Up Louisville.

Hettinger was referring to the more than 1,000 LED strands that compromise 40 Nights of Light, the visual tour de force that fills the four blocks of Fourth Street between Main and Chestnut Streets.

"This is nut weather," declared Jeanette Westbrook.

Westbrook, a vendor at the event, brought chestnuts, peanuts, almonds, pecans and roasters aplenty to set up shop just west of the Light Up Louisville bandshell. Her booth neighbor, Jackie Beard, is a newcomer to the festival. But Beard figured that seasonally and situationally weather appropriate garb would sell well.

"I have hats, gloves, scarves and a little bit of everything to keep everybody warm," Beard said. "This is the ‘Ville! and I love my city, that's why I'm here."

Playing to the extra crowd was the University of Louisville Cards. They took on Southern Mississippi Black Friday night.

"We're gonna have 26,000 people pouring out of (KFC) Yum Center and onto Fourth Street," Westbrook said. "And I think it'll be one big, victory party."

Cardinal fans had one fewer parking option; Light Up Louisville caused the US Bank garage to be closed. But with good timing, a fan could catch the beginning of the parade upon arrival, and perhaps the tail end of the lights and fireworks at game's end.

"At that point the whole mood on stage kind of shifts," Hettinger said. "We go for more of an adult crowd."

Children could stay indoors and visit Santa at the Kentucky Convention Center. The bandshell's performers aimed to create a street festival, segued into an after party at Fourth Street Live! But the afternoon warmup could really jog your memories.

"I wanna run like an elf," said a laughing Susan Schneider.

Schneider brought her daughter and toddler granddaughter, who were decked in red and green tights, with bells on their toes, to the Run, Run Rudolph 5K and mile event.

"Winning means finishing," Schneider explained, "as long as I finish still breathing."

The three generations of Schneiders joined an eclectic mix of dedicated runners, high school athletes and stragglers almost all bearing trappings of the holidays.

Westbrook views Light Up Louisville as an opportunity to showcase the downtown many never knew existed and the Renaissance others may never have seen coming.

"It's all here; Whiskey Row, Nulu, everything," she said. "Everything is moving to the riverfront."

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