Days of IncandescenceOct 01, 2022 09:00AM ● By Karey Solomon
Break out that bustle! Grow those mutton chop sideburns! Every October, when the days get shorter, Corning celebrates light with The Days of Incandescence. In 2022, those days are October 20 through 31. Inspired by Corning’s creation of the first glass bulbs to house Thomas Edison’s electric lights, it’s part history, part Halloween spookiness, and all good times.
Most events are in the downtown area, many in the evening. Most are family-themed. Wearing a costume, particularly one of Victorian vintage, will enhance the experience. But while costumes are encouraged, they’re not required. “Last year quite a few were in period dress—some had better costumes than our actors,” notes Dave DeGolyer, of the Steuben County Visitors Bureau, one of the organizers.
Mysteries abound. A few will be explained by costumed actors leading downtown walking tours, as they point out sites important in nineteenth-century Corning and discuss historic events. Another mystery surrounds the origin of the now-iconic lightbulb shape after many failed attempts to house Edison’s glowing filaments. Legend has it a boy working in the glass-blowing shop suggested the contours of the bulb, but researchers later learned three different men claimed to be that shop boy. This event is described in The Legend of the Gathers by Lafayette Watt, a picture book set in 1880s Corning.
Archibald, one of the book’s characters, is immortalized in “Archibald’s Libations Crawl,” an evening in which ticket-holding revelers may visit a variety of downtown venues to sample wine, brews, and other refreshments. Other events include a celebration at Riverside Centennial Park on Saturday, October 29, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., including live music and other activities. Several merchants will offer specials.
To hear a dramatic reading of The Legend of the Gathers or buy a copy, come to the Heritage Village at 59 W. Pulteney Street on October 29, where it will be read by the author. That day, Heritage Village is hosting additional special events, culminating in an evening investigation of the spirits of yesteryear—a program led by investigators from the Paranormal Association of the Southern Tier.
Activities and events are still being added. For a schedule of events, get a special edition 1880s newspaper from an actor haunting the Farmer’s Markets at the Park on October 20 and 27. Or plan ahead, book a walking tour, and find a schedule for the Days of Incandescence online at corningfingerlakes.com/events/days-of-incandescence.