A decade-long holiday tradition will return to its birthplace later this month, as plans to hold Northport Village’s popular “Leg Lamp Lighting” at the same location the iconic fixture was first celebrated are currently being finalized.
The inaugural lamp lighting ceremony took place in 2005, shortly after brothers Billy and Jimmy Reichart discovered the leg – a replica of the lamp famously featured in the 1983 holiday movie classic “A Christmas Story” – while cleaning out the basement of their family-owned and operated Northport Hardware Company. That small, mostly spontaneous celebration quickly grew into a highly anticipated annual event, with festivities that drew in hundreds of spectators every year.
The Reichart family hosted the lamp lighting ceremony at the Main Street store until 2015; in 2016 the ceremony moved to Carl’s Candies, where it spent three years. This November 26, the lighting will return to the old hardware store, now occupied by The Firefly Artists.
“We've touched base across town, are totally confirmed, excited to hear we are receiving this ‘Major Award,’ and getting the pieces of this full-on community event together as quickly as we can,” shared Katheryn Laible, managing partner at The Firefly Artists.
Katheryn and her team of Fireflies officially moved into the old hardware store space just last month. While details are still being ironed out, Katheryn did share with the Journal that the gallery has partnered with Island Harvest and will be collecting food/personal hygiene products all season long, especially leg lighting weekend.
A well-documented event, the lighting has been recorded and reported on, photographed and shared on social media for years.
At the eighth annual leg lighting (available for viewing on YouTube), then-Northport Mayor – and rumored-to-be-returning master of ceremonies – George Doll recounted the history of the leg, and how it had “resurfaced” when the Reicharts found it in the hardware store’s basement.
“They dusted it off and they brought it down…in this place of prominence right here in the Village of Northport,” said Mr. Doll. “And that led us to where we are tonight.”
Mayor Doll reflected on the very first leg lighting in 2005, and how people walked by the event. “We kept telling them we were going to light the leg and they were, like, trying to get away from us,” he said. “Until an older man came down, he had a Navy cap on. We said ‘You want to watch us light the leg?’ and he was right there.”
That second year, Mr. Doll joked, organizers had to go get everyone out of Gunther’s to watch.
“From there, it grew to this,” he said, to a large and festive crowd. Past ceremonies included performances by the Northport Tigerettes and the high school’s Symphonic Winds, the Northport bagpipers, appearances by a little Ralphie, a big Ralphie, and even a man dressed in those infamous pink bunny suit pajamas.
Jen Lau, a former managing partner at Firefly, once used a picture of Northport Hardware Company as her holiday card. The hardware store represented a piece of home to her; if you look close you can see the leg lamp, too. “It's an amazing twist of fate that this place, which so represents home to [Jen] is now the home of this gallery she continues to serve all these years later,” said Ms. Laible.
Add the leg lamp and it’s a well-timed full circle.
A sequel to A Christmas Story will be released on HBO Max on Thursday, November 17, the same day A Christmas Story, The Musical opens at the Engeman Theater in Northport Village. Buy tickets here (maybe make it a day and catch a matinee and dinner the evening of the leg lighting).
The Firefly Artists is located at 90 Main Street in Northport Village. This year’s festivities will take place, as always, on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving (November 26, also recognized as Small Business Saturday). Keep up-to-date with the event by following The Firefly Artists on Facebook.