CARLSBAD — Carlsbad will leave the lights on.
Hundreds gathered and danced on the street last week in celebration of lighting the Carlsbad sign in perpetuity.
Realtor and community leader Carlton Lund spearheaded the effort to install two Kindness Meters at the sign adjacent to the Village Faire and organized a ceremony on Friday. He was also instrumental in developing and having the city install the sign in 2014.
People, though, gathered to listen to the Blackwater Blues, while feeding the meters in their efforts to show kindness. Funds from one of the meters goes to keeping the lights on, while the other spreads money to seven different Carlsbad charities and community foundations.
Several city officials were also in attendance, including Mayor Matt Hall, City Councilman Mark Packard, Police Chief Neil Gallucci and Assistant City Manager Gary Barberio, to name a few.
“It was wonderful and we got some great donations,” Lund said. “That sign looks so good lit during the day it’s unbelievable. It was an A-plus event.”
Lund has installed nearly a dozen Kindness Meters in North County and one in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego. Except for the one at the Carlsbad sign designated for continual lighting, the other meters donate 100 percent of the funds to the Lucky 7, which is seven charities and foundations in Carlsbad and North County.
They include Kids for Peace, the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation, Carlsbad Educational Foundation, Carlsbad Community Foundation, Carlsbad Boys & Girls Club, Moonlight Amphitheater and the Wyland Foundation.
As for Friday’s collection of kindness, Lund said about $2,000 was raised by those who attended or passed by the event.
The event was emceed by CBS8 anchor Dan Cohen, while artist Wyland spoke, and children from Kids for Peace did their pledge in front of the audience.
“It was all about kindness and taking pride in the city,” Lund said. “We have a very, very special town. People came to celebrate and they did. If you give out kindness, kindness comes back.”
The crowd, meanwhile, gradually expanded to several hundred, including Tom and Renie Leakakos.
The couple, who moved to Carlsbad about five years ago, were on their way to a winery, but stopped and celebrated in the festivities.
Renie Leakakos, a local attorney, said they landed in Carlsbad after a stint in Yosemite and splitting the distance between San Diego and Orange County. At the time, the two didn’t realize what they found, but soon knew it was where they would stay.
“We didn’t realize how great it would be,” Renie Leakakos said of the city.
“It kind of makes Carlsbad more home-like,” Tom Leakakos added.
And events, like the sign lighting, she added, are just another reason they wouldn’t live anywhere else.
Admittedly, the two didn’t know much about the event or Kindness Meters, but nevertheless, they were impressed.
“We heard the music, came by and saw the event,” she said.
“That sign should stay lit up. It represents Carlsbad and people come by and see the sign, they will remember Carlsbad,” she added,
Tom Leakakos compared Carlsbad to Reno, Nev., and its world famous slogan of “The Biggest Little City in the World.”
“That’s what it feels like to me here in Carlsbad,” he continued. “The Biggest Small City, more than Reno does.”
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.