Senator Lesser talks with Spirit of Springfield President Judy Matt

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Senator Eric Lesser spoke with Spirit of Springfield President Judy Matt to discuss the preparations for Bright Nights at Forest Park as part of his weekly livestream interview series.

The conversation was streamed live on Senator Lesser’s Twitter and Facebook pages at 12 p.m. about how the organization is continuing operations safely through COVID-19.

You can watch the full interview at either of the links below:

According to a news release sent to 22News from the Office of Senator Eric Lesser, the holiday light display has welcomed more than 6 million visitors. Judy Matt has been with the non-profit organization, Spirit of Springfield for more than 30 years. The organization produces large-scale events such as the World’s Largest Pancake Breakfast, Star Spangled Springfield, the Parade of Big Balloons, and Bright Nights at Forest Park.

The funding for all these events come from donations, sponsorships and grants, and revenue from Bright Nights at Forest Park. The pandemic caused the cancellation of many of these events in 2020, except for Bright Nights. It ran with limitations but remained an essential economic driver for the region.

“The convention bureau has estimated $11.7 million, that was a couple years ago, in economic impact,” said Matt.

Friday morning the Spirit of Springfield announced this year’s theme and date for the annual Bright Nights Ball, another fundraiser for the organization. The black-tie gala sponsor is Eastman Chemical and the theme is Cherry Blossoms Under the Moonlight. “We wanted to do something light because it’s a new year and hopefully coming out of Covid, things will lighten up and be better,” said Matt. It will be held on November 13 at MGM Springfield.

Bright Nights at Forest Park runs Wednesday, November 24 through January 2nd. For more information on Spirit of Springfield and their events, go to their website.

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