Merchants in downtown Aiken saluted with candles

Two thousand flickering candles set downtown Aiken aglow Dec. 20.

"This is a great community event," said Carla Cloud, executive director of the Aiken Downtown Development Association, which spearheaded the Night of 2000 Lights event.

Luminaria lined the streets for six blocks in downtown Aiken.

This is the second year Aiken has had the candlelight event.

Prompted by a phone call, Ms. Cloud organized the first event last year as a thank-you to downtown merchants.

"Somebody called and said, 'We think luminaries would be great,' " she said.

One thousand lights were placed in four downtown blocks last year. Ms. Cloud said she heard positive responses for several weeks. "One lady said she was so proud to be an Aikenite" that night, she said.

About a dozen volunteers worked Dec. 19 and 20 to fill white bags with sand and candles and place them along the sidewalks. "Without volunteers, it wouldn't happen," she said.

Ms. Cloud is already thinking ahead for next year, which could be a night of even more lights.

"If we are going to expand, we have got to have the community involvement," she said.

She said she'd like to see downtown churches and civic groups participate as well.

For more information about the Aiken Downtown Development Association, call (803) 649-2221.

Reach Charmain Brackett at czbrackett@hotmail.com.