The lights from 2007 are still dazzling

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Today’s lighting ceremony at The Coeur d’Alene Resort is going to be tremendous. Dating back to the opening of The Resort in 1986, when holiday lighting was far more modest, this day-after-Thanksgiving ritual has become the clock by which many North Idahoans start to tick down the hours until Christmas.

But one decade ago, the lighting ceremony was arguably a little brighter than all the rest. That’s because ABC’s popular “Good Morning America” program spotlighted our community’s celebratory efforts, sharing the brilliance with 5 million households.

For the record, to accommodate ABC, Resort brass and community members agreed to stage an early morning lighting ceremony six days after Thanksgiving 2007. Still, an estimated 5,000 area residents braved bitter cold temperatures and snow for the chance to hit the airwaves at precisely 4 a.m.

According to the front-page story in The Press the following day, Alli Balek of Post Falls spoke for many when she said:

“Once in a lifetime kind of deal. We’re being recognized by Good Morning America. How did little Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, get found?’”

Well, little Cd’A got found in part because The Resort’s spectacular lighting ceremony had become a powerful draw over the years. More than a million lights bursting to life at the flick of a switch? Fantastic fireworks on the pond? And Santa’s cruises taking revelers around the world (or at least, across the lake) to see Santa? By 2007, wide-eyed visitors from afar had begun making the trek to take in one of the largest lighting ceremonies on the planet. It really wasn’t such a well-kept secret anymore, but it was pretty cool to see our community’s celebration dropping jaws that morning all across America.

In honor of that unforgettable publicity stunt and the genuine warmth, holiday spirit and sense of pride it generated 10 years ago this week, we’re sharing some of The Press coverage of that event today. As most of you know by now, the lighting ceremony and massive fireworks display is an annual gift to the community from the Hagadone family — Lola, Duane, Brad and Todd — brought off beautifully by hundreds of Hagadone Hospitality employees. What might not be so well known is that the Good Morning America coup was largely a product of the creativity and energy of Jerald J. Jaeger, the former Hagadone Hospitality president who retired just a few weeks ago.

Your lights still burn bright too, JJJ.

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