Ribbon cutting and lighting on Nov. 26 celebrate new Peace Bridge lettering

Batavia's iconic "Peace on Earth" letters have been upgraded and will now light up at night.

On Sunday, Nov. 26, Batavia Park District will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Peace Bridge at 3 p.m. before its Celebration of Lights event.

Santa will light the Peace on Earth letters in coordination with the traditional tree lighting after 5:30 and again at 7 p.m.

"'Peace on Earth' is a universal message of hope," said Batavia Park District Executive Director Allison Niemela. "In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the words 'Peace on Earth' become a beautiful symbol of hope, reminding us to pause, connect and embrace the power of this public art form."

Additionally, the new Peace on Earth installation pays tribute to the support of a community, she noted.

"This project is a true community partnership between business owner Craig Foltos, the Batavia Park District and Batavia Parks Foundation."

Batavia businesses, residents and volunteers also helped make Foltos' dream a reality by purchasing merchandise and raffle tickets, donating time and sharing their skills.

The original 12-foot wooden letters proclaiming "Peace on Earth" were the brainchild of Craig Foltos, lifelong Batavian and business owner.

He dreamed of creating a message of hope that would be hung on the pedestrian and bicycle bridge in downtown, visible to all who passed by. Foltos along with volunteers, donated resources and time to build the original letters. In 2011, the Batavia Park Board voted to officially change the name of the bridge to "The Peace Bridge."

Batavia Park District has proudly hung the "Peace on Earth" letters annually during the holiday season.

In March 2022, Niemela made a request to the Batavia Park board to keep the letters up year-round, which the board approved, however, the 14-year-old letters were showing signs of wear.

Last year, Foltos and the Batavia Parks Foundation led community fundraising efforts to replace the wooden letters with a set of year-round permanent, sustainable LED-lit letters. The Batavia Park Foundation raised $50,000 and the newly constructed letters were installed in October.

The Peace Bridge spans the Fox River and is located next to the Jeffery D. Schielke Government Center in downtown Batavia.

"This isn't just another pedestrian bridge," Niemela said. "The Peace Bridge unites the east and west sides of our community and spreads a message of harmony and unity."

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