BR crews light Town Square

The annual Festival of Lights celebration will get a new look this year, the first since Town Square was completed downtown, officials said.

About half-a-million lights have been hung along North Boulevard and Third Street. Also, a 31-foot Nordman fir brought in from Washington state has been set up and decorated in Galvez Plaza, said David Guillory, interim director of the Department of Public Works.

Crews from DPW began hanging the lights along North Boulevard in late October, Guillory said.

Crews also hung 200 stars in the oaks along North Boulevard, he said.

The event cost the city-parish between $13,000 and $17,000 this year, Guillory said.

“Some years, we have to buy new lights,” he said. “A lot of it won’t last since it’s out in the elements for close to two months.”

In addition to the trees and decorations, a tree lighting ceremony will take place at 6:15 p.m. Friday, and a fireworks show will follow at 6:30 p.m., according to a schedule of events posted at http://www.downtownbatonrouge.org.

Beginning at 4 p.m. there will be 6 tons of snow on the Galvez Plaza lawn, said Davis Rhorer, executive director of the Downtown Development District. There also will be outdoor ice skating on North Boulevard, and a band will play on the Galvez Plaza stage, he said.

Local merchants and others such as officials with the Old State Capital and the Old Governor’s Mansion will host open houses, Rhorer said.

“We work hard to get a lot of different kind of venues going,” Rhorer said. “There’s something for everybody.”

Rhorer said he was expecting more than 5,000 people at the event.

A full schedule of events is posted at www.downtownbatonrouge.org.