A dazzling display of lights lit up the archway under the Manhattan Bridge for three brilliant nights during the first annual New York Festival of Light in DUMBO. Though the show was unfortunately cut short on its last night – Saturday – due to hazardous overcrowding, I personally wasn’t there for any of the craziness that brought the F train to a complete shutdown. However, I did make a visit to the festival on Thursday—its first night. And it was actually quite fun.
Hundreds of people traveled to the event – which was free and open to all ages – to enjoy the artworks, instillations, projections, and performances from local and international artists, lighting designers and technologists, and DJs. Lucky for me, Clapway’s office is located in the small neighborhood of DUMBO, so when I walked out of work on Thursday, I simultaneously walked right into all the fun.
In itself, the event was a typical Brooklyn spectacle: a lot of dancing and drinking. Though I was alone, I didn’t mind either. And that’s because of the visuals. Projected onto the archway were varying hues of purple layered with tiny specks of white light that looked like stars or pixie dust falling from Tinker Bell. From afar, I could see an installation exuding neon colors. Altogether, it was a beautiful, colorful scene on an otherwise rainy and cold dark night.
The people were, well, better to describe what I saw them do. In traditional outdoor event fashion, I noticed folks sneakily gulping liquor from coffee cups and flasks. I didn’t judge; I was jealous. There were children with parents, and teens without. Others huddled around artworks and contemplated their meaning. Like I said, typical Brooklyn spectacle.
From November 6th to November 8th, the anticipated show was expected to run from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. I left rather early on Thursday – 8 p.m. – so I didn’t experience how the night continued after. However, on Saturday, the festival was shutdown at 8:30 p.m.—a disappointing two and a half hours early. Friends of mine who went – only to be turned around by police – told me stories of complete chaos on the streets—not in the “riot” sense, but in the “it’s a Saturday night and everyone is drunk and wants to keep partying” sense.
“We thought it would be best to close it down early because of the magnitude of all the people around the area,” said Liam O’Braion, co-founder of the festival. “We are incredibly happy that New Yorkers opened up to us, but safety is the most important thing.”
Better luck next year. (Or play it safe and go on the first night like me.)