Full Circle In The Square

 What a difference a year makes. Anyone who's witnessed the amazing transformation of Market Square over the last 365 days knows exactly what we're talking about. Which is what sent us on a trip down memory lane to November 2009, when the remaking of Downtown's favorite meeting spot was starting all over from, well, Square one.

Okay, can you believe that just 12 months ago, on Light Up Night last year, the Square looked the scene in the photo over here? After enjoying the Farmers Market, the Thursday free concerts, the Carnegie Library Reading Room and other happenings this summer and fall in the "new"  Square, it's almost impossible for us to remember the "old" Square and what it looked like during construction. But we dug through the archives to unearth a few photos from last year to show you just how much everything's changed — for the better.

Before the work crews could install the beautiful terrazzo surface in the main part of the Square or carefully place by hand each Belgian block in the streets around the Square, they had to remove every last bit of the old roads and sidewalks and start from scratch, including replacing old water lines and laying new pipes for various utilities (remember all those deep holes all over?). We spent a lot of time watching the guys tool around in the Square in their grown-up Tonka toys. Now, of course, with so much heavy equipment in the Square, we all had to deal with some detours on our way to the Nicholas Coffee Co., Oyster House and other fave spots in the Square. Somehow we all managed to find our way around the yellow "caution" tape and orange traffic cones.

But look at the Square now. In just a few days, tens of thousands of happy holiday well-wishers will gather there for our extra special 50th anniversary Light Up Night spectacular. Along with all the treasured Light Up Night festivities and traditions, this year's celebration will get off to an electrifying start when Mayor Luke Ravenstahl flips a giant switch to turn on the amazing Market Square Season of Lights display in the Square. We want to thank the good folks at the Colcom Foundation for plugging in their support of this colossal collection of brilliant blinking and twinkling decorations — including a 33-foot tall "sphere tree" that will brighten up the Square through the holidays and into the new year.

It's been a year of change in the Square. And we want to thank everyone — the work crews and the craftsmen, the merchants and especially everyone who visits the Square every day — for being patient and supportive during the long haul. We think the new Square was well worth the wait. And, remember, we'll see you in the Square — and everywhere else Downtown — this Friday and Saturday for the biggest, brightest and best Light Up Night ever.

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