Canopy of Lights Ceremony

The first year CFC Properties, a real estate development and property management company, helped hang the Christmas lights for the Canopy of Lights ceremony was in 1987. During that time, the trees were still young, and CFC used the traditional “wrapping” method by making circular laps around each tree on the south and west side of the square, including two at Graham Plaza. 

Mark Allen, CFC’s Maintenance Manager at the time, shared…

“As the trees grew taller, we fabricated a painter pole to loop the lights around the trees. Then, around 1990, we started wrapping all the trees on the downtown square again by looping the lights around the trees from the ground.” 

In October of 1993, while on a trip to Chicago, Steve Ferguson, CFC’s President, noticed the trees, including the branches, along Michigan Avenue were wrapped with mini lights. He suggested that CFC do the same, given the size of the trees. While it was a last-minute switch, CFC’s crew accomplished the effort before the ceremony. 

As the years progressed, CFC continued to use the white mini lights. Lights were generally removed and replaced every three years, and any additional repairs took place in between. Replacing the lights typically began in late July or early August and required two – three crews of 4 – 6 people. 

As the trees scaled in size, CFC eventually had to use bucket trucks and often a rented 60-foot lift to reach the tops of the trees. The trees’ growth also meant the need for more lights, more power supply, and more transformers and junction boxes. Over time, CFC also committed to installing and maintaining the lights on top of the buildings around the entire square. One year, the total length of lights reached 24 miles, approximately over 213,000 light bulbs. 

CFC covered electrical costs for the Christmas lights for Fountain SquareChase BuildingGraham Plaza, and the Wicks Building. CFC also installed and maintained the lights for the Monroe County History CenterGrant Street Inn, the CFC Business Plaza at Showers, and the Cook Family Health Clinic

By 1995, the City was able to install outlets within the tree plots on the east and north sides of the square. At that point, the City helped absorb the electrical costs at those locations, including the electricity used to illuminate the building tops.

Following dinner on an evening in 2021, Jim Murphy, succeeding President of CFC, thought it was important to share with Bill Cook, co-founder of Cook Medical, a global medical device manufacturing company, and CFC Properties, how much time and money went into maintaining and replacing the Christmas lights. As they walked around the square with their company from dinner, Bill replied to Jim by calling him… 

“Scrooge,” and said, “Bah, humbug!” 

After Jim’s rebuttal, sharing how much he did love Christmas, Bill shared…

“People need something to smile about.”

It was the first Christmas after the 9-11 Twin Tower attack in the United States. Once the group had arrived in front of Graham Plaza, Bill looked up and said, “light this building,” and so, it was done.

While CFC continues to help by contributing to a festive downtown square, CFC also offers several holiday activities and events hosted at Fountain Square, such as photos and stories with Santa, the popular Pajamborie Party, and more.

Fountain Square is a multi-purpose center on the south side of the downtown square that offers a collection of boutiques, galleries, and experience-based activities.