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Reno is ready to glow

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A new light show competition hits the Biggest Little City

By Nora Heston Tarte

Jaime Chapman, the owner of Pineapple Pedicabs, has been on a mission to make Reno even brighter since relocating to northern Nevada in 2019.  

Her newest brainchild, Let It Glow Reno, is a business vs. business light competition that pits commercial Reno neighborhoods against each other to see who can create the best light displays.

“I wanted to have a light show, light event, and December made sense,” she said of the idea.

The competing neighborhoods include Midtown, downtown, the Brewery District, Riverwalk and Wells Avenue. 

“We have over 100 businesses that are signed up so far,” Chapman said. More than 30 of those businesses are on Wells Avenue alone.

The lights at Piñon Bottle Co. enclose the patio. Image: Eric Marks / This Is Reno

Chapman said she saw a need for this innovative competition after noticing a lack of lights in many of Reno’s busier areas. For a town known for its neon lights, there just wasn’t enough sparkle.

The lights are already up and will be through Jan. 9. However, Chapman added, there really isn’t a specific end date to how long businesses can keep their decorations up. There’s simply an end to the competition.

In addition to stringing lights and other holiday décor, each competing neighborhood will also host its own launch party. The parties kick off with Midtown’s Dec. 1 tree lighting and continue with parties in each district through Dec. 17 when the Riverwalk hosts its ugly sweater wine walk. Each event will have access to an oversized LiteBrite for guests to play with, made by Chapman herself.

The Basement is even getting in on the fun with a holiday spectacle of its own for the shops in its underground space. 

While a panel of judges will choose most of the winners – and gift large, gaudy trophies and silly prizes to the top dog in each category – the community is invited to get in on the fun, too, by casting their votes for a favorite piece of décor. The winning individual business will get a special people’s choice prize. 

Holiday lights draped across Junkee Clothing Exchange as part of Midtown’s Let It Glow entries. Image: Eric Marks / This Is Reno

“They take a picture of their favorite light piece or glow show and upload it to social [media],” Chapman said, adding every entry needs to have the #letitglowreno hashtag to be counted. 

The first round of voting will end on Dec. 17. From Dec. 18-28, voting on the finalists will once again welcome spectators to get in on the action to choose the ultimate winner, and on Dec. 29 Let It Glow will host an award party.

Dec. 17 will also be Reno Bike Night, a group bike ride that treks through the participating neighborhoods. 

If you’re looking for participating businesses, you’re in luck. YelpReno made a map and uploaded it to its website as well as Let It Glow website.

Chapman’s Pineapple Pedicabs will also have copies of the map available and will be hosting rides throughout the month focused on the competing lighted neighborhoods. 

Dubbed “Twinkle Tours” each one will traverse part of the aforementioned map, visiting 1-2 neighborhoods per ride. The rides will change each week so guests can go again and again in their private pedicab or on a brew bike for groups of up to 30. The cost is $85 per couple.

Part of the Let It Glow business light display in Reno’s Brewery District. Image: Eric Marks / This Is Reno

The first tour will begin at RED (Reno Entertainment District) and take advantage of its light display, including a free walk-through.

The tours include a 45-minute ride in a lighted pedicab with a personal tour guide. Chapman is working on getting a hot chocolate vendor for the rides, as well.

For more information and a full line up of events, visit letitglowreno.com.

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