For Provincetown and even beyond, it’s definitely a symbol that Thanksgiving is here. It’s always the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The lights always go on at 6 p.m., and it’s always kind of a surprise to see who’s going to light the monument.
It’s definitely a time when the town is hopping. We probably had over 1,200 people at last year’s lighting event. Little by little, it becomes big—the museum fills and the crowd swells outdoors. Unfortunately, the weather’s always a little unpredictable. Sometimes it’s a little cold.
We’ve had rain and we’ve had snow. Last year was pretty good—it was blustery, but people enjoyed it. It’s a very brief ceremony. We don’t hold them out for long speeches. And as we say, there’s plenty of room in our 10,000-square-foot museum for people to warm up.
There are 19 strands of light and they each have 166 lights on them. The trivia is that it totals 3,154 lights. They’re all hand-put-in and hand-taken-out every year—Carlos Silva has done it for many, many years now. And they take a fair amount of abuse up here in the winds.
Clearly, the best seat is right up here [on High Pole Hill]. It’s kind of an unprecedented view, and you’re up here with a thousand of your closest friends. It can be seen from afar—people can watch from downtown—but the real treat, I think, is up here on the grounds of the monument.
People sometimes come dressed up as pilgrims—the whole garb. One time we actually had two people that had gotten married here talk all of their family into coming as pilgrims.
I think it symbolizes the beginning of winter. It marks that change of the seasons, when those of us that live on the Cape kind of reclaim the Cape. The lighting certainly brings tourism in, but it’s a chance for residents of Cape Cod to assemble and have a moment of cheer before the Thanksgiving holidays. It’s preparation for everyone, to know that winter’s coming. It’s a bright moment.
Visit www.pilgrim-monument.org for more information about Share the Light 2011.