“He made the night a little brighter wherever he did go, The Olde Lamplighter of long, long ago…”
When Dick Boyd was first asked to be the lamplighter for Lebanon’s Victorian Holiday Festival, he thought the idea was “really silly.” They wanted him to dress up in a top hat, scarf and topcoat, carry a walking stick, and tap on the windows of the shops lining St. Louis Street – all the while singing the “Olde Lamplighter” song.
The first night the street was dark and there was no one around, Dick said. It was just him and a violinist. Then he tapped on the first shop window and the lights went on inside. People spilled out of the shop and followed him down the street to the next place and the next… Soon a crowd of 100 to 150 people filled St. Louis Street singing carols as the lights of Christmas came on. “My perception really changed,” Dick laughed. “It’s been wonderful from the very beginning.”
Music has been a significant part of Dick’s life. He has worked at Shattinger Music Co. in St. Louis for many years; he teaches voice; sings with the St. Louis Symphony Chorus; and is the music director for the First United Methodist Church in Lebanon. When a performance at Powell Hall interferes with his lamplighter duties, Don Urban fills in, but Dick is proud to say he has only missed two years knocking on the shop windows.
Today Carolers in Victorian dress and the Lamplighter are joined by hundreds of people singing, enjoying horse-drawn carriage rides and shopping. Hot drinks and period food are available from street vendors and the joy of Christmas fills the air.
Call the Visitors Center 618–537–8420 or lebanonil.org for a schedule of all the events.