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Turnpike, First Responders "Light up the Night" At Children's Hospital


Close to 100 flashing lights danced off the Penn State Health Children’s Hospital in Hershey last month, twinkling in the windows and lighting up the night for the young patients and staff. 

It was like Christmas lights in March – maybe even better for all the little ones staying at the hospital because, hey, who doesn’t love firetrucks? Or police cars or ambulances or even the PA Turnpike’s bright orange dump trucks?

The second Light Up the Night event was held Tuesday, bringing out nearly 100 first responders, who drove in a convoy past the Children’s Hospital, putting on quite the show with their dazzling display of lights. 

Turnpike Traffic Incident Management Coordinator and organizer Todd Leiss said after last year’s inaugural Light Up the Night, the Penn State Health staff and children were so taken with the event they said, “we have to do this again next year.” And that’s what they did Tuesday night – bigger and better with more first-responder vehicles, more lights and bigger smiles from the kids. 

“I think seeing their reactions as we drove past the front of the hospital with our lights was the best part,” Leiss said. “We bought them flashlights engraved with a saying, ‘the light in you helps make our lights shine brighter,’ and seeing all the floors with kids shining the lights back to us, and knowing we were doing this for them, it was definitely emotional for us. It was a touching moment.”  

Not only was Penn State Health eager to have them back, but more and more first responders wanted to take part and brighten the night for all. 

“I think as first responders, we often ask the community to support us, and this gives us a chance to give something back without asking in return,” Leiss said. “It makes someone’s life a little brighter.”

Along with the Turnpike, local fire, EMS and police took part, as well as PennDOT and some area towing services.