Lighting Up Main Street

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The town of Brazil, IN wasn’t entirely merry at the beginning of this holiday season.

“People were saying the Grinch was in town, and it just didn’t feel like Christmas this year,” said Joshua Alsip, a member of the non-profit group Brazil Main Street. 

That feeling from some of the locals came from a lack of Christmas lights up and down Main Street – renovations to the downtown had changed out the old electric light poles, therefore making it so that the town couldn’t put up lights as easily. 

The absence of Christmas lights was felt by many in the town, but one little girl decided that she was going to speak up about it. 

“It was kinda like a big deal because Brazil isn’t lighted up all over the streets and Christmas is almost the specialist, most special holiday,” said AddaLee Thompson, a third grader at Staunton Elementary School.

AddaLee’s feelings spurred a member to action, donating $25 to Brazil Main Street to decorate one of the light poles – she even went with Alsip and other Brazil Main Street members to pick out the decorations herself.

This chain of events inspired Brazil Main Street members and led to a Facebook post asking others to sponsor their own poles. 

“We thought we’d get two, three four more, and maybe some $10-15 donations but by the end of that night, we had I think 18 or 19 poles completely sponsored,” said Alsip. 

Then this holiday trend took an even more touching turn, as people began donating in memory of loved ones they’re missing this season – people like Brailyn Medearis, who lost her two-year-old son Braxton in 2017. 

“The holidays, I dread them, didn’t want to put my Christmas decorations up, didn’t want to, but making this bow just gave me a little bit of a boost to get through this holiday season,” said Medearis. 

Medearis says Braxton’s decorated pole helps her to know his memory is alive in Brazil.

“The biggest fear I think of a grieving parent is that your child will be forgotten, and just to drive down the road and see his name means absolutely everything,” said Medearis. 

And for AddaLee, there is a sense that the decorations aren’t just lighting up the street, but also the heart of her community.

“I feel like I brightened it up a little, spread the cheer,” said AddaLee. 

There are over 30 poles decorated along the street now, and Brazil Main Street members had to buy a lot of supplies from Amazon and from stores in other cities because of a lack of supplies, so they are not taking any more donations at this time. Alsip does encourage those who donated in honor of someone to put up a bow on their decorated pole. 

AddaLee and her mother Shakara were quick to say that none of this could have happened without the help of Brazil Main Street members, who they feel are year-round sources of light for the community.

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