Light it Up Blue 2021


Amanda Anzaldo, Junior Staff Editor

April is the month for Autism Awareness. Every year, our town holds a “Light it Up Blue” celebration to recognize the many people that manage their autism. Last year, this event was canceled due to COVID-19; however, this year,  many people were very excited about it because it did indeed occur. Not many people are aware of how difficult it is to live with autism. My twin brother, Anthony, has autism so I can see firsthand how difficult his life is, compared to other kids his age. 

Before the Light it Up Blue event, the cemetery fence on Ridge Road was decorated with blue ribbons for autism awareness. On Thursday, April 1, and Friday, April 2, volunteers tied ribbons to the cemetery fence and some telephone poles. In less than three hours, 70 ribbons were hung up. Gerard Nifras, who volunteered to put up ribbons, stated, “The wind and cold were brutal, which was enough to give anyone hypothermia, but the ribbons still stayed, similar to how the spirits of those affected by autism are not dampened by their condition.” Stephanie Zhang, who also helped put up ribbons, believes that “Tying up the blue ribbons was a great and interactive way to bring awareness to autism. If I could, I would definitely do it again!” 

Then, on Saturday, April 3, Access for All organized the much-anticipated Light it Up Blue event. Access for All is an organization that helps people with disabilities that advocates for them. The event kicked off with a parade that started by the Police Department and ended at Allen Field. A blue fire truck, many first responders, residents of North Arlington, and even the Easter Bunny marched to show their support for autism awareness. Many other residents of North Arlington watched the parade from their front lawns, cheering on and waving to the people walking. 

At Allen Field, there were Easter Eggs spread across the field for the children to find. Mister Softee served ice cream and members of our community gathered for the first time in over a year. Allen Field was the perfect place to host this event since there was plenty of room for social distancing, and since the field was recently renovated. Overall, Officer George McDermott said, “I think the event was extremely successful due to the support of the community, and the people who organized it, specifically Angelique Sodano. We were fortunate to have volunteers from the high school, the NAFD, NAVES, NAPD, CERT, mayor and council, and our local businesses in North Arlington.” 

Angelique Sodano, President of Access for All, said,  “It was amazing!” Her goal for next year is for Light it Up Blue to have more additions to the celebration in order to draw in even more members of our community. As of now, she is focusing on getting kids with disabilities involved in sports programs, so they can meet other people and get out of their comfort zones. 

Thanks to all of the organizers and participants for making this a success! 

Check out our slideshow to see pictures of the event!