Bill Conrow, Juneau resident and long-time, free-lance stage director and light designer stands in front of a holiday light display near Juneau-Douglas City Museum. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire)

Bill Conrow, Juneau resident and long-time, free-lance stage director and light designer stands in front of a holiday light display near Juneau-Douglas City Museum. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire)

Holiday lights bring cheer to winter solstice and city museum

By Dana Zigmund

Juneau Empire

Juneau residents gathered in front of the Juneau-Douglas City Museum to enjoy holiday lights and mark the winter solstice Monday night.

A custom-built light display in the neighboring park space lit up the area and provided holiday cheer as volunteers served hot chocolate and holiday treats under a light rain. A small traffic jam formed as cars slowed to take in the lights and absorb the holiday spirit.

The event was the brainchild of Beth Weigel, Juneau-Douglas Museum Director.

“Since people have not been able to come see us we had the idea to do a light exhibit in the park,” she said. “We adopted the Northern Lights theme to light up our dark nights.”

Weigel quickly enlisted the help of Bill Conrow, Juneau resident and long-time, free-lance stage director and light designer to create the scene.

[Alaskans bring back the light on the solstice]

“Beth contacted me a few weeks ago and I immediately thought it was a fantastic idea, a great way to end 2020” he said. “We built the design around the heart in the center. The heart means happiness, togetherness and health.”

The project quickly became a community affair, as Weigel brought in the Zach Gordon Youth Employment in the Park Work Crew. “They were wonderful to work with,” Conrow said. “The most difficult part was sourcing all the lights on short notice. I scavenged all over town to find these.”

Long-time volunteer Michelle Storer, said that about 20 people had stopped by for hot chocolate within the first 30 minutes. “It’s beautiful and cheerful,” she said.

Mary Lou Madden, Friends of the Museum board member, was on hand to enjoy the festivities.

“It’s been a tough year,” she said. “We haven’t been able to do the things we normally do, so we wanted to turn on the lights for the community. We are living in historic times and the museum is documenting it.”

According to Weigel, the museum hopes to resume regular public hours soon. Until then, visitors can make an appointment to drop by or take a virtual tour courtesy of the museum’s robot.

[There’s a new way to see local history]

• Contact Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com.

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