COLUMBIA — At exactly 8 p.m., all the lights at Addison’s were turned off, leaving customers to eat their dinner by candlelight and observe Earth Hour, a global event to raise awareness of global warming and energy conservation.
Earth Hour began last year in Sydney, Australia. This year, Columbia followed in Sydney’s footsteps, along with 26 major world cities and more than 300 other cities and towns, by asking residents and businesses to turn off lights and electric appliances between 8 and 9 p.m.
One of Addison’s owners, Matt Jenne, thought it was a great idea to conserve energy while adding to the mood of the restaurant. He said the overall response from customers was positive.
“We felt like it was a neat promotion,” Jenne said. “There’s something with eating by candlelight. The two go together.”
James Robertson, a job-cost analyst who was having a few drinks with his friends, said the candlelight added to the atmosphere.
“It’s pretty enjoyable,” Robertson said, looking around the darkened room.
Michael Dianics, an AT&T Corp. employee, thought turning off the lights for an hour was a good idea, but that it should be practiced more often.
“It needs to be applied to more things,” Dianics said.
Along with Addison’s, residents around Columbia organized events celebrating Earth Hour.
At Nadia Navarrete-Tindall’s house on Grant Lane, 28 guests enjoyed wine, food and good conversation by only the glimmer of candles around the MU research scientist’s home.
“We’ll be eating with the lights off and the candles on,” she said.
Navarrete-Tindall said she hopes the event will show people the importance of saving energy.
“It’s just a way to get people’s attention,” she said. “You don’t have to do too much to save energy and think about conserving it.”
Allen Maddy, a senior research specialist at MU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, thought the party was an interesting social idea.
“It’s a fun theme for a party,” Maddy said. “Maybe it will be an annual event.”
Sid Sullivan, candidate for county commissioner in Boone County, and his wife, Joan Sullivan, stayed at home and played cards by candlelight. Sullivan said the occasion shows what the community can do when everyone works together.
“It’s symbolic that the community can join together to say we can save energy,” Sid Sullivan said.
Monta Welch, president of the Columbia Climate Change Coalition, was pleased with the outcome of the event.
“I think it was a success,” Welch said. “It’s the first year we’ve done this in our community, and it’s really had a great response.”
Welch attended Rock Bridge Christian Church for a candlelight service and said she was touched by the event.
“I just know it was very meaningful for me and those folks that came,” Welch said.
Welch said she will know how successful the event was when she finds out the change in the amount of electricity used. The Columbia Water and Light and Boone Electric Cooperative monitored the change in electricity usage during the hour.
As for next year, Welch hopes for Earth Hour to expand and possibly include a parade.
“I think it would be fun to have a parade with the mayor leading it,” Welch said.
Navarrete-Tindall said Earth Hour is just the beginning of fixing global issues.
“I think we all have to do something,” Navarrete-Tindall said. “It’s a definite start.”