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Celebration of new lights around turf field set for Oct. 6 during soccer doubleheader

Canton’s permanent lights surrounding the school’s athletic complex are up and shining brightly. The first game under permanent lights was a football game against the Coginchaug/Hale-Ray/East Hampton co-op team on Sept. 8.

CANTON, September 18 – Lights on Canton, the organization that raised $203,000 to install permanent lighting at the Canton High athletic complex, will be hosting a celebration and dedication ceremony on Saturday night, October 6, at 6:30 p.m., between the two varsity soccer games.

Kevin Case, Canton’s Superintendent of Schools, will lead the brief ceremony and thank the many businesses, organizations and individual donors who donated money and time to make the project a success.

The Canton High Chamber Singers will perform during the ceremony and cake will be served for all.

The ceremony will be held between the 18th annual night soccer doubleheader with the girls soccer and boys soccer programs. The Canton girls will host Ellington at 5 p.m. with the Canton boys hosting Ellington at 7 p.m.  As part of the celebration, there will be no admission for the games.

The tradition of the girls soccer and boys soccer doubleheader began in 1999 when portable lights would be brought in and set up around Bowdoin Field.

Lights on Canton raised $203,000 over two years to purchase the lights for the turf field complex. The town of Canton and the Board of Education each chipped in $24,000 each for the lights to be installed in August.

In November 2012, town voters approved a $3.6 million facility as part of parking improvements and upgrades at Canton High. It included a state-of-the-art eight-lane track and field facility and a multi-purpose artificial turf field. Conduit and infrastructure for lighting was built at that time. The facility opened in November 2013.

In November 2016, the town Planning and Zoning Commission approved permanent lights to be installed at the facility. Four 80-foot poles will provide the lights. The permit approved by the P&Z will allow up to 25 games a year with the lights being turned off by 10:30 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on Saturday. No Sunday events with lights will be permitted.

Fundraising by the Lights on Canton team began in January 2017 when the Harlem Wizards played a fundraising contest at the high school.

The first event under the new lights at the high school was the football game between Canton and Coginchaug/Hale Ray/East Hampton co-op football team on Sept. 8.

The first contest under the permanent lights was Saturday, September 8 when the Canton High football team played the Coginchaug/Hale-Ray/East Hampton co-op team and dropped a 16-8 decision.

Limited to 25 events a year, there are 18 events scheduled this fall. The next night game is the girls soccer team’s game against Somers on Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. Three additional girls soccer teams are set to be played at night against Coventry (Oct. 1), Ellington (Oct. 6) and Bolton (Oct. 12).

Four field hockey home games are scheduled under the lights against Suffield (Oct. 2), Stafford (Oct. 4), Granby (Oct. 16) and Lewis Mills (Oct. 22).

The boys soccer team will host Granby (Sept. 28), Ellington (Oct. 6) and East Windsor (Oct. 15) under the lights while the football team will host Ellington (Friday, Oct. 5), SMSA/University/Classical (Friday, Nov. 2), Rockville (Friday, Nov. 9) and Granby (Wednesday, Nov. 21).

The night games are not just for the varsity athletes at the high school. The Warriors youth football program will host night games on Saturday, October 13 while Canton Youth Soccer will play night games on Saturday, October 20.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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