Friday, December 7, 2012

Hope floats: the Tampa River Lights Festival

Posted By on Fri, Dec 7, 2012 at 6:54 PM

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Imagine 10,000 river lights illuminating the Hillsborough River, floating freely and signifying a greater cause.

North of Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, distinctive in its unique urban design and vast open space, will be the release point of the lights during the Tampa River Lights Festival.

This one-of-a-kind event will benefit Voices for Children of Tampa Bay, and each floating light will represent a child helped within the program.

Voices for children, founded in 1986 as the Child Advocacy Guild Inc., is dedicated to providing a vital service to abused and neglected children — raising and directing funds to the Guardian ad Litem Program.

The job description of Guardians Ad Litem (GALs) is simple: make a difference. These volunteers speak on behalf of abused or neglected children and ensure that no kid slips through the cracks of the child welfare system. The Voices for Children website describes them as: "people who decided it was time to step forward and help the children who have no one else to count on. They're people who wanted to see the faces of children in need. They resolved to stop letting kids become just another statistic, just another tragedy. They resolved to improve a child's life and, in doing so, discovered they had also improved their own."

GALs may be helping to protect a child’s safety, or even finding them a loving family — something many of these children have never known. As it stands currently, the program is only able to support 57 percent of children in need.

On Saturday, Dec. 8, from 6 to 9 p.m., you can count yourself among those dedicated to changing lives by attending this free and unique family-friendly event.

Roam the waterfront park and watch the 3-inch river lights float to MacDill Park. The glowing specks drifting over the dark water, under the moonlight, is truly an awe-inspiring atmosphere. Voices for Children won't be the only ones benefiting — these lights not only represent hope, but they represent a possible prize for each sponsor as random lights are pulled from the river. Classic rock band Southern Train will entertain guests during this ideal night out, and an assortment of food will be provided.

VIP Tickets, which include open bar and food, table service and reserved seating, can be purchased for $75 in advance or $100 day of the event.

Both company and personal sponsorships are available — illuminated river lights can be sponsored for $5 each. For company sponsorships, visit the Tampa River Lights Festival website.

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