The first night game at the Kennett sports stadium took place last Friday when the Kennett football team took on Avon Grove. It took less than three hours to play the game, but more than three years to reach a point where a night game could be played.
The Kennett Consolidated School District decided—very correctly, by the way—not to use taxpayer money to fund stadium lights when the high school’s stadium was built a few years ago. Instead, the community was challenged to find a way to cover the costs of the installation of the lights.
The effort to raise the money for the stadium lights did not start on the 50-yard line. It probably didn’t even start on the 20-yard line.
Imagine trying to raise $225,000 at a time when virtually every business or individual that you reached out to was dealing with the aftermath of the Great Recession. Jobs were being lost. Home values were plummeting. Companies large and small were struggling to keep from going out of business. Everyone was cutting back on discretionary spending.
It was in this climate that the Demon Lights Committee started the daunting task of raising money to fund the lights. The committee was comprised of individuals in the school community who wanted to help give students an experience that they were missing out on. Some of the members of the committee include Jeff Roland, Cathy Roland, Jim Nash, Barbara Nash, Carl Lowe, Carol Lowe, Pam Ramagano, Heather Schaen, Michael Finnegan, Susan Finnegan, Joe Sexton, Mike Fragale, Wayne Bruhn, and Betsy Bruhn.
The committee solicited contributions and held various fundraisers, hosting a carnival during each of the last two summers.
There were legal hurdles as well. A few residents challenged the approval of the stadium lights. Local attorneys like John Jaros and Caroline Henrich offered their expertise, doing some pro bono work as the school district sought and ultimately received approval to install the lights.
It took a community-wide effort for the goal to be reached—a fact that Leon Spencer, the public address announcer for Kennett’s football games, pointed out several times during the first game under the lights.
Barry Tomasetti, the superintendent of the school district, said that he wasn’t surprised that the Kennett Square community would be so responsive to the needs of the students. This is about much more than just playing football games on five nights each fall. Other sports teams will also be able to play some games at night, allowing more parents to see their children play. Members of the band and the cheerleaders will be able to have the experience of performing in front of larger crowds.
Kudos to everyone involved in this effort that allows Kennett to shine bright under the lights.