What started as a way to fund a town street light carries the sweetest 100-year tradition. Following World War I in 1919 the Town of Genoa had no money to purchase street lights, but residents couldn’t bear to keep living in the dark.
At this time, the town’s economic health was declining so creative ideas on how to fund this venture were thrown around. Lillian Virgin Finnegan, a member of the suffragette movement, remembered a cruise dance where candy was served to the guest on silver trays as an extra treat. Borrowing that idea, Lillian together with the women of Genoa went about preparing this type of event. A raving success, the Candy Dance allowed for the purchase of 10 streetlights to be installed in the town. Seven of the original lights still burn bright today.
In light of the 100th year celebration, in August 2019 the town of Genoa revealed a seven-foot bronze statue of Lillian Virgin Finnegan, the Candy Dance originator. One of the town’s first street lights illuminates her in dedication to all the countless volunteers who make this annual event possible.
Lillian left a legacy of passion and connection that fostered a greater sense of community. The Candy Dance volunteers have been extending their roots of service to provide direct help to the Town of Genoa that Lillian would be proud to have started. In the most positive light, the spirit of volunteerism is alive and well in the current residents.
Townspeople gather together every year to make the candy that is sold at this event, nearly two-tons worth! This spirit teaches us to look beyond our self interests and understand the role we play in our community today and for generations to come.