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Lights on Westport Bridge Span the Years

Westport resident Al DiGuido was among a group of friends at a holiday party about 10 years ago when an idea popped into his head. "A bunch of us were sitting around talking about waking people up to the holidays, and I said, 'You know, we need to do something wacky: Let's light the blue bridge,'" said DiGuido, founder of the nonprofit organization Al's Angels , referring to the William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge. "And they went for it."

So did then-First Selectwoman Diane Farrell, DiGuido said. Farrell liked the idea so much she got the state's permission for them to go onto the bridge and wrap it with lights. And ever since then, the lights on the Cribari Bridge over the Saugatuck River have been a holiday tradition.

But why that particular bridge? DiGuido said he always admired the look and feel of that bridge because it's vintage.

"I wanted to try to re-create the feeling from ' It's a Wonderful Life ,' and that bridge has a historic legacy," DiGuido said. "It's a bridge from yesteryear: It brings nostalgia and innocence to Westport, and lighting it is even better."

Although the idea to wrap the bridge in holiday lights came four years before DiGuido founded Al's Angels in 2004, he said the lights serve as a symbol for the organization. It reminds people that "we all have a responsibility to help those in need," he said, especially during the holidays.

The lights, which are paid for by the DiGuido family, are unofficially turned on for Thanksgiving night and shine through Jan. 1. And though a majority of the lights stay up year round, DiGuido and his crew of four or five people, working in the dark, check to see whether any bulbs need to be replaced every November.

Last year, the lights were changed to LEDs and according to DiGuido, it took about eight hours to wrap the entire bridge with the new set. Nevertheless, "It's a labor of love," he said. In fact, he's thinking of getting larger lights for next year.

What do you think about DiGuido's idea of wrapping the bridge with larger lights? Do you have your own suggestions? Leave a comment below!

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