Over the past two months, a movement has begun to provide funding for night games for Pawling High School sports for the first time in more than 30 years. Conceived by a small contingent of parents, the idea of “nights under the lights” has already found support with several local businesses. Organizers are now seeking public support as they hope to raise the necessary funds to make the project a reality.
Since playing fields in the Pawling Central School District are not equipped with lights adequate for nighttime sports events, student-athletes are not afforded the opportunity to play in night games on their home fields. The last time portable lights were brought in was during the fall of 1982. Paul Meissner has seen his three children advance through the district, and he felt that the time had come for the lights to once again illuminate the fields.
“A lot of the surrounding towns have lights,” explains Meissner. “If we can’t fund a stadium with permanent lighting, then we’ll find a way to do it for a week. This will be a big deal.”
Meissner began attending Board of Education meetings several months ago and worked with school officials to formulate a plan to bring in portable light towers for the district’s athletic fields. Board members were supportive of Meissner’s plan, but they cited concerns about cost and adequate security for the events. The Board ultimately approved the plan for Pawling to host four night games next fall, with boys soccer, girls soccer, football, and field hockey each getting to play a game under the lights.
With the support of the school district secured, Meissner’s group has been tasked with raising the funds to finance rental of twelve portable light towers and additional security personnel for the games. In total, the proposed week of night games will cost $7,000, with the majority of the funds needed by June in order to reserve the lighting for next fall. “The bar is set high, but we need to make it happen,” says Meissner.
Realizing that time is now of the essence, Meissner, his wife Tammy, and friends Anjanet and Joe Riina began brainstorming ways to raise the funds to make the night games possible. Meissner had shirts and wristbands printed and inquired with several local businesses about making them available for sale. The merchandise is now available for purchase at Village Pizza, Tacos & Cones, The Tap House, and Pawling Family Quick Stop. “It’s been awesome,” says Meissner. “We’ve already gotten so much support from the businesses here, especially Henry Schaber and everyone at the Quick Stop. They do so much for the sports teams in this town.”
The merchandise is already selling briskly, but Meissner realizes there is still a long road ahead. The movement has set up a GoFundMe page, and organizers are in the process of finalizing details for a kickball tournament fundraiser to be held at Murrow Park in the spring. “I want it to be a community event,” he explains.
Although the path ahead will difficult, Paul Meissner and his group believe that the community will come together to support this worthy cause that will ultimately provide a priceless memory for the student-athletes at Pawling High School. “We can’t turn back now,” he says. “This is going to happen.”
To donate online, visit GoFundMe.com and search for “nights under the lights.”