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Providence to host 'Citywide Good Night Lights' for front line workers, COVID-19 patients

This file photo from May 2018 shows patients inside Hasbro Children's Hospital flashing lights back at crowds. (WJAR){ }{p}{/p}
This file photo from May 2018 shows patients inside Hasbro Children's Hospital flashing lights back at crowds. (WJAR)

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Health care workers across Rhode Island are risking their lives to save others amid the coronavirus pandemic, so Providence is hosting a “Citywide Good Night Lights” celebration in their honor Wednesday.

“I want to thank all of our healthcare workers that have tirelessly continued go to work each day to keep our community safe,” Mayor Jorge Elorza said in a press release.

“They are our heroes during these difficult and uncertain times, each day risking their health to protect the lives of others,” he said. “The entire City of Providence thanks them for their service.”

Long-time hospital "resident cartoonist" Steven Brosnihan started the Good Night Lights tradition of wishing children good night by asking local businesses, schools and universities, along with law enforcement agencies, to flash their lights for the kids to see at bedtime.

Since its inception in 2015, he said it has been a meaningful way of letting patients know someone cares.

“Good Night Lights gives them an indication that people are thinking about them,” Brosnihan told NBC 10 News during a recent phone interview, noting that people who are hospitalized, especially children, experience loneliness and depression.

The pandemic, he said, has left them even more vulnerable and frightened.

“It’s creates a communication,” he said. “They look out the window and understand that even though people aren’t in their rooms with them, they are there remotely.”

Brosnihan went on to praise the city’s efforts. He said the “Citywide Good Night Lights” display will be a welcome show of support for patients and workers alike.

“There’s a real effort going on to fill the gap with visiting restrictions by giving people a chance to remotely visit,” he said, adding that Hot Club, which was Good Night Light’s first commercial participant, still makes sure that someone gets there every night at 8:30 to flash their railing lights despite the fact that the establishment remains closed due to the pandemic.

“They have let nothing get in the way of their participation from the beginning and they are still not letting anyone get in the way,” Brosnihan said. “They are super people.”

He also said Frank Picozzi, who lives in Warwick and is well-known for his family’s annual Christmas display, continues to participate nearly every Tuesday with his traveling light show.

“Tuesday is Frank’s night. He and his Warwick community do their thing every Tuesday,” Brosnihan said.

But he said there are also other people go eve more frequently, as some groups head out there on a nightly basis.

“It happens every single night. I lot of people don’t know that,” he said. “It’s a common misconception that it’s only once a week. Every night, there’s something going on. And the kids are still responding. The kids still have access to flashlights and room lights.”

In the release, Brosnihan said he is grateful that Good Night Light continues to thrive “during these dark days.” He said it is “fulfilling its mission of sending a signal of hope to” patients and caregivers.

“Tonight's display will provide the chance for the City of Providence to showcase its kindness and gratitude through both the participating vehicles and those creating remote displays of support in their own homes,” Brosnihan stated.

Elorza noted that police and fire vehicles will begin blinking their lights at 8 p.m., starting a parade from Rhode Island Hospital on Eddy Street towards India Point Park around 8:30, and roll by Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

They will then head toward Miriam Hospital before returning to service, with the East Providence Police Department blinking their lights across the bay.

“Residents are encouraged to participate on their porches or in their cars, while following all of the recommended hygiene and social distance guidelines, and to share their video of blinking lights on social media using the tag #GoodNightLightsPVD,” according to the release.

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