You ever get really excited for something only to be kinda let down when it actually happens? That’s exactly how I felt when I attended this weekend’s Festival of Lights in DUMBO, Brooklyn taking place from November 6-8.
When you hear the words “Festival of Lights” you may think of something dazzling, exciting, and unlike anything you’ve ever seen before and with advertised photos that look like this:
and with it being described as a “city of a million lights”, you really feel as though you are up for a treat! This festival is modeled after similar events taking place in London and Berlin and is supposed to offer a, “dazzling array of multi-sensory installations including projection mapping, laser lighting, video art, illuminated sculptures and wearable light technologies.”
As we meandered through the cobblestone streets in the crisp evening air towards the festivities, my excitement mounted as I walked past people wearing flashing headbands and toting glow sticks, only for it to quickly dissipate as I saw what was in front of me. There were throngs of people all huddled beneath the Archway under the Manhattan Bridge, an awesome location known to host an array of events, including viewings of the World Cup, but just not great for cramming hundreds of people underneath in order to put on a great laser light show.
I am so appreciative of events like these, especially when they take place in Brooklyn and are free to the public, and really do understand the time, effort, and money that goes into making it all happen, but I just couldn’t help leaving the event feeling underwhelmed.
As soon as a lights display show started, it was amazing to see how practically everyone, including myself (guilty as charged), took out their phones to photograph/record the show instead of watching it with our own two eyes. It reminded me of that really minor scene in The Sixth Sense when Haley Joel Osment’s character is in a school play and the moment it begins every single person in the crowd pulls out a camcorder (pre-iPhone) to capture their shining star on camera. When I catch myself doing this, I try to remember a line from the John Mayer song “3×5” that goes:
“Didn’t have a camera by my side this time
Hoping I would see the world through both my eyes”
It helps to remind me to put the technology down and enjoy the moment before it’s gone.
I also got the chance to attend the really cool Winter Flea + Holiday Market that is being brought indoors for these chilly winter months. I recently discovered that the normally outdoor Brooklyn Flea that takes place in both Fort Greene and Williamsburg every weekend, was setting up shop indoors as I walked past the empty, but massive shell of a space on 1000 Dean St. (the former Studebaker Service Station, purchased in 2012 by a joint venture between Brownstoner, BFC Partners and the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group designed to “become a hub of entrepreneurial activity.”) Upon first entering the dimly lit building, I found myself in a huge space where food vendors were cooking and with picnic tables set up for people to eat. There were also two ping pong tables for people to use free of charge, which I thought was pretty neat.
I continued on to a long hallway with rows of tables set up on each side and more food vendors selling their homemade goodies with everything from hot sauce to salsa to all types of pie. Finally, I made it to the third room with all of the other vendors who sold clothing, furniture, and artwork, amongst other awesome little finds. It was quite the sight to see what it looks like inside because I’d never been there before and did not even realize such a huge space was even there! I just appreciate that it was all brought inside so that people don’t have to shop in the blistering winter cold. The variety was immense and it was fun to be able to look around at everything that was being sold. Old leather jackets? Check. Jewelry fabricated from repurposed vinyl records? Check. Vintage wool hats made during a time when people’s heads were much smaller? Check and check. You could spend hours here getting lost in everything, and the vendors are usually eager to tell you the story behind this piece or that, but I did walk away empty handed, having been satisfied with just window shopping, for the moment. Having something like this come to Crown Heights, a neighborhood near and dear to my heart, along with Berg’n, a massive burger and beer hall also brought to you by the same minds who put this flea market and the weekend food festival, Smorgasburg together is something I don’t think I could’ve ever predicted just 5 years ago, but so far I find it intriguing.
While on the plus side, I won’t have to travel as far to visit the Brooklyn Flea because it’s a cool place to look for gifts for the upcoming holidays (yay!), I’m curious to see where this goes and how this will affect Crown Heights, but in the meantime I definitely recommend stopping and checking it all out for yourself!