With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A "Light" at the End of the Tunnel

Editor’s Note: Samuel Oliver Bushwick is a new contributing writer to Sad City Hartford. The writer’s initials of "SOB" are pure coincidence. In this week's installment, Bushwick takes a look at last weekend's illumination of Bushnell Park.

Finally, the streets of downtown Hartford were hustling and bustling in anticipation of the city’s annual Festival of Light celebration. With a new venue – the beautiful, under-appreciated and under-used Bushnell Park – a new mayor, a local celebrity (Hello Irene O’Conner!), and an appearance by the Big Guy, there’s no doubt THIS was the Rising Star’s chance to shine.

As the countdown reached its final seconds, you could hear the little kiddies yelling and screaming. Three…two…one. Unfortunately, the Ooooos and ahhhhhs were traded in this year for the sounds of
groaning and comments such as “That’s it?!” or “I thought there would be more.”

The promise of a lit park, gave way to a lit Christmas tree and a few lit stumps along the park’s entrance. Sure, there were spotlights shining snowflakes along adjacent buildings, but it took a few minutes to realize it was part of the display. At first glance those who traveled from their cozy suburban homes may have thought it was the city’s attempt to page someone to come protect and/or save Hartford. But hey, at least we can give thanks knowing the person in apartment 3D didn’t have their shades up. Christmas could have been ruined for everyone!

Alas, perhaps the expectations were too high. Or maybe Santa decided the city deserved coal for
electing the last mayor in the first place. Either way, in true Charlie Brown fashion, a well intended
event fell just a bit short.

Homer Simpson once said that “trying is the first step towards failure.” We say, at least the city tried. And with a skating rink coming to the park soon, Hartford has another chance at redemption.


  1. I was there and it was quite funny... When the countdown hit zero and little the fake tree from K-Mart lit up, a few seconds passed... then children began to cry, and then the booing started. It was so classic Hartford that the moment felt perfect. That said, I think it was a great idea to move the festivities to Bushnell Park... the carousel was was packed, and the glittering, twirling lights and kids laughing definitely amped up the holiday spirit. Hopefully next year there will be more time to plan, more lights, more things to do and see. And agreed, the lights projected on the buildings was really cool and different. PS: Looking forward to seeing Sad City's review of the Bushnell Park skating rink when it opens, another idea that seems really great... how will it actually work out?

  2. was the Festival of Light sponsored by Sad City Hartford? It is a perfect match!

  3. Bring it back to Constitution Plaza. Whenever I drive under the old hotel underpass, I look up at the 4th floor and remember Betty taking my virginity away in one of those rooms way back when.

  4. Thats not how Betty remembers it