Let there be (stadium) lights at Kennett

Riders scream in delight on the Round-Up at the first Demon Lights carnival, held last weekend on the Kennett High School grounds. The event brought in over $10,000 toward the lights for the high school stadium. Staff photo by Wm. Shawn Weigel

The epic battle to bring lights to the Kennett High School stadium is at long last over … almost.

On Monday night, Kennett Square borough council voted to approve the formal change to the amendment that allows the lights to be put in place.

The decision comes on the heels of a relatively successful carnival held on the high school grounds to raise funds for the lights project, which is estimated at roughly $230,000.

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Jeff Rowland, Demon Lights committee chairman, said that while the carnival’s organizers hoped to break the $100,000 mark, the coffers are now just shy of that goal.

“We were hoping to gross $15,000, but we had bad weather one night with the rain, and I think that hurt us a little,” he said. “Regardless, we’re excited. It was a great success; there were a lot of happy people there.”

Rowland said they fell just short of that goal, grossing $13,700 in just under a week. After the few minor expenses, he added, supporters will net roughly $11,000 – a nice drop in the proverbial bucket, Rowland said.

Among those expenses is the hiring of an outside security force and extra compensation for some Kennett police officers although, Rowland said, there were no serious incidents the entire week.

“We had a lost wallet, a lost cell phone and a lost purse, all of which were claimed,” he said.

The change to the ordinance and the official permission from the borough, Rowland said, will make fund-raising from area corporations and businesses somewhat easier since the committee can say it has permission to proceed.

“This will definitely help in that area,” he said. “Groups like Exelon, the first question they have is, ‘are you allowed to build it?’ Which makes sense from a business standpoint – you want to make sure if you’re funding a project that project is approved beforehand.”

Ticket sellers who worked the sales booths multiple nights at the carnival said the crowds were steady, and at times downright packed.

“We had a lot of smiling kids here, enjoying the rides. Some people came just to enjoy some carnival food and walk around,” Rowland said.

Parking was handled by the high school parking lots, with spillover parking at the nearby Genesis lot across the street; however, Rowland said most of the week’s traffic came from the borough, and those folks came in on foot.

Rowland said that, if it is able, the committee would consider holding the event next summer, too.

With over $100,000 left to earn, Rowland said the committee will next be selling wristbands at the Mushroom Festival for the second year in a row. It is also planning to partner with the KHS football boosters for other upcoming events, including a golf outing this fall.

“It’s been a long road, but there’s a little glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel,” Rowland said.