This was the first time Governor Baker has seen the holiday tradition that has become a staple of Western Mass.

SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Bright Nights at Forest Park kicked off opening night on Wednesday. Governor Charlie Baker joined city officials in helping to officially light up the park.

“This is clearly a landmark, not just for Springfield, but for the Commonwealth,” Governor Baker told Western Mass News. “I'm glad it got 50,000 cars through it last year. I'm sure you're going to do far better than that this year.”

This was the first time Governor Baker has seen the holiday tradition that has become a staple of Western Mass.

He gave the green light last year to allow Bright Nights to open amid the pandemic with restrictions in place.

“He takes the time to be out here and that’s quite special,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. “He’s the first governor to make it out here to this.”

For others, Bright Nights has been a family tradition years in the making.

“We’ve come here with the last few years,” said Felix Vasquez of Holyoke. “We try to beat the traffic today. We didn’t do so well, it’s a busy night for sure.”

This year, Santa's Village is back open after the section was closed last year because of the pandemic, and already families are back enjoying the merry-go-round and saying hi to Santa Claus himself.

“My daughter was dying to see Santa. She was like, ‘I want to see Santa! I want to see Santa!’ We just like to see all the lights. Dr. Seuss is my favorite,” Vasquez told us. “It’s a great time with the family and it’s cost effective.”

Bright Nights will continue to run into early January.

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