Stars sparkled, pink and gold and orange lanterns bobbed, and a soft wind played among the chimes in the Camp Ground Wednesday night for the 104th annual Illumination Night.
It was an old-fashioned Illumination, spectators, police and Camp Meeting Association officials agreed, with decorous crowds of young and old ambling about Trinity Park; children perched on fathers’ shoulders; attentive couples hand-in-hand; the curious pausing here and there by cottage porches to ask the history of Illumination, or to shyly inquire if they could have a peek inside a cottage. There, often as not, they were treated to refreshing mint green punch and home-baked cookies, or peanuts and popcorn and candies. And, if they were young enough, and stopped at the Wright Cottage where Mrs. Anthony Shabica was, they were invited to use her gum ball machine, specially supplied by Mrs. Shabica with 5,800 gum balls for the occasion. The pennies to make it operate were proffered by Mrs. Shabica, too.
At the Curtis L. Collisons’ Mrs. Collison, dressed in a festive pink, greeted guests over a crystal punch bowl.
And Mrs. Babs Brittain was entertaining, too - with flowers in her hair and strings of beads round her neck, and wearing a Japanese pongee kimono that had been her mother’s.
Wednesday night was “the wonder of a lifetime,” for her, Mrs. Brittain said, for, in gratitude for her long years of service to the Camp Meeting Association - teaching nature study classes, keeping scrapbooks of association events, serving as unofficial historian of the Camp Ground - she was honored by being asked to light the first lantern of Illumination. “It only happens to you once,” she said, and her voice had a touch of awe in it. Joining her on the Tabernacle stage to assist in the lighting were young friends and neighbors, six year old Heather Romsey and her two year old sister, Alison, in red pinafores, and sturdy four-year old Jason Romsey, seven year old Margaret Scott, and nine year old Howard Scott and Sidney Adams, who came from Atlanta, Ga., for the event. The children were substitutes for Mrs. Brittain’s six grandchildren who were unable to make Illumination this year.

Among the Youngest

Probably the youngest person to enjoy the annual spectacle was seven-month old Alexander Cole, who rocked in a blue blanket in the arms of his mother, Mrs. Donald Cole, on the porch at the cottage of his grandparents, Dr. and Mrs. George Davies.
The sprightly tunes of the Vineyard Haven Band’s concert in the Tabernacle gave a rhythm to his mother’s rocking. Columbia the Gem of the Ocean was played and The Spanish Flea, Barnum and Bailey circus songs, Saber and Spurs and On Parade. Klaus Rauf of Reutlingen, Germany, attending his first Illumination Night, was delighted to hear the strains of Tannenbaum, though a bit surprised to be hearing Christmas music in August. (But his American-born wife suggested that the tune could also be Maryland, My Maryland.)
The events of the evening began with a community sing under the direction of J. Gordon Almstead, and the Tabernacle was filled to its 2,200 capacity, joining together to sing Alouette and The Band Played On, East Side, West Side and many other oldtime favorites.
Then, at dark, the lantern lighting took place, just the way it first did in 1869 though in that year, it was reported, bunting, as well as Chinese silk and paper lanterns, twinkling from the cradles inside, was strung around the Cottage City grounds.
About 3,000 were in attendance, Police Chief Peter M. Williamson estimated, and more than 100 lanterns were sold to strollers at association headquarters.
For more than Mrs. Brittain, 1974’s Illumination was one wonder and splendor and joy.