A Storybook Candlelight Old and New

By Philip Case Published:

As it is with most things, change didn’t come easily or without objection when organizers decided to make the annual downtown Frankfort Candlelight Tour a four-day event instead of a hectic four-hour one as it had been since its earliest years.

Best recollections are the first with the four-day format was in November of 2008 and, as might be expected, it started slowly with Thursday still remaining the premier night and the other three nights and days coming as something of an afterglow.

But, oh my, how things have changed!

This year’s tour begins Thursday and continues through next Sunday. The theme is “A Storybook Candlelight Old and New.”

Britain Skinner, now in her second year as executive director of Downtown Frankfort Inc., says there are so many events and special things to do that the schedule takes up more than a page on DFI’s webpage, downtownfrankfort.inc.

After 27 years of doing it the one-day way, it’s understandable devotees of that format would be reluctant to change. But once the “pains” were over the change has been one that’s simply opened the window wider to showcase what specialty shops, restaurants, businesses, churches – well, practically everything – in our beautifully restored downtown have to offer.

A schedule of events appears in today’s newspaper on page D8 and will be reprinted during the week. If you want a sneak preview you can visit the Downtown Frankfort site mentioned earlier and start plotting your stops to include dining, shopping, entertainment and more.

The Commonwealth Credit Union is this year’s corporate sponsor for the event that was designated by the Kentucky Travel Association as one of the Top 10 Fall Events in Kentucky.


“Thursday night will be our biggest night,” said Skinner, who was less than two months into her position when Candlelight 2011 rolled around. “But the other nights are growing – as is Saturday afternoon.”

The official start is Thursday with Frankfort Mayor Gippy Graham opening the event. The Kentucky State University Marching Band will march down Broadway at 6:30 and a Christmas tree will be lighted on the lawn of the Old Capitol at 7.

Both Thursday and Friday nights will feature luminaries lighting the streets and horse-drawn carriage rides available.

On Friday, Skinner says, Broadway and St. Clair will both be closed and there’ll be a stage on Broadway in front of the Old Capitol. Performing there will be children’s choirs, ballet dancers and more.

“If the weather’s nice – and we’re hoping and praying it is – we’ll release the kongming floating lanterns, something we did last year,” Skinner said. “A custom from Asia, the lanterns are in coated paper bags and float like hot air balloons.”

She says they’ll be tethered and rising only about 15 feet. “We’re not really going to let them go!”

Saturday is growing, too, Skinner saying last year it was “just huge” during the day.

“There’s an art walk downtown from 11 until 3, sponsored by the Kentucky Employees Credit Union, the rollout of our new DFI banner, and a ‘Tweed Ride’ sponsored by Walk/Bike Frankfort and the Folkbike Recyclery among other things.

“We’re expecting people to come over from the Kentucky Book Fair which will be going on all day at the Civic Center, too.”

And, of course, through all of this shops and restaurants will be open.


Things wind down Sunday with some downtown restaurants open for brunch after church and music on the stage.

“There’s a whole lot to do but I feel a lot more under control than I did this time last year,” Skinner said, laughing. “There are a lot of new things going on and I’m excited about CCU being a sponsor.”

Skinner said she sent out a request for help from youth groups and organizations and the response has been excellent.

“Right now I’m not getting a lot of sleep but I plan on catching up on the 12th!”

By then, Candlelight Tour 2012, the 32nd since the event began back when people typically avoided downtown after dark, will be history and planning will begin for Tour 33.

See you downtown this week! Come see that’s going on.

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