News Column

Lights festival draws a crowd

June 29, 2014

By Jonece Dunigan, The Decatur Daily, Ala.

June 29--Residents from all over the Tennessee Valley came Saturday to support the River City Lights festival on Bank Street.

The event was started by Chris Kemp, a music producer for the event company Renegade Workshop. The event raised money through the American Red Cross to help victims of April's tornadoes.

By day, attendees danced to 40 different music acts such as country singer Cheryl Llewellyn and Huntsville-based rock band Rearview Ghost. By night, people enjoyed visual entertainment as they watched the Old State Bank transform into a 3-D light show.

Whitney Rogers, 26, drove 35 miles from Taft, Tennessee, to show her support for the tornado victims.

"I hope they get their homes back soon, and I like to show my support by giving them donations," Rogers said.

Tony Bruce, of Athens, the lead guitarist and vocalist for the folk-rock band The Renegades brought his fiancÉe Tara Gilliam and her two kids to the benefit. The tornadoes struck a mile from their home, but there wasn't any damage to their property. Bruce said his band agreed to play to the event because he can understand what the victims are going through.

"We want to support those who did lose something because it could have been us," Bruce said.

The cost to get into the event was a donation to the Red Cross. Whether it was $3 or $30, Lance Wave, major gift officer for the American Red Cross, said no donation is too small.

"A $20 bill will pay for a hot meal for a family of four or a new pair of shoes," Wave said.

Hartselle resident Mary Davis, 72, brought her granddaughter Shelby Davis, 14, to the event. Shelby said the benefit allowed her to do something she always enjoyed while helping her community.

"I really like concerts and music in general, and this is something I can do to help other people who need support," Shelby said.

Wave said seven American Red Cross volunteers from Decatur, Athens and Huntsville helped pass out water and collect raffle ticket money for various items such as an acoustic guitar. Another 15 volunteers helped Kemp manage the musical acts. Kemp said it felt good to see people from around the Valley coming together to support their cause.

"I am proud to be in north Alabama. Everyone donated so much. We just want to make a difference," Kemp said.

Jonece Dunigan can be reached at 256-340-2442 or Follow on Twitter @DD_Dunigan.


(c)2014 The Decatur Daily (Decatur, Ala.)

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Source: Decatur Daily (AL)

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