Leading the Way: Nibbles eschews his big red nose for the first time in nearly three decades

When most of the country thinks about holiday traditions, they think about Christmas trees, snow, time with loved ones, Santa Claus, that kind of thing. Here in Rhode Island, we think of a giant blue bug who sits atop a building just off I-95, bringing holiday cheer and joy to all of those around him. 

I’m finding, however, that not a lot of people know that Nibbles Woodaway, with whom I think most of us are on a solely first-name basis, has his own lighting ceremony that I feel rivals any major tree lighting around the state. 

In a typical year, you’d see a guest of honor (past guests have included Joe Wilson, Jr. as Ebenezer Scrooge from Trinity Rep, and Rhode Island sweetheart and pop star Billy Gilman) visit with the children and families who come to see them, and then, flips a switch to reveal Nibbles – all lit up with a giant red rose that overlooks the highway.

This year will be different – as with most things – but I’d like to argue that it’s better. 

On Tuesday, December 1, Nibbles will have a special holiday lighting ceremony, but it’ll all be done on Facebook Live. Phil Loscoe of the RDW Group, had to say of the change, “It’s the most 2020 event of all time, the public can’t participate in a safe way… but we’ll join everyone on Facebook.” Prior to Governor Raimondo’s pause announcement, the event had been slated to be in person. Phil continued, “We thought long and hard about the governor’s press conference,” and that’s when the decision not to have the lighting in person was made. 

Brian Goldman, CEO of Big Blue Bug Solutions, said in a release to the public, “We feel it is important to demonstrate leadership and support the efforts of Governor Raimondo and the extraordinary leadership of the Rhode Island Department of Health under Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott to minimize public gatherings and limit the potential exposure at this time.”

Big Blue Bug Solutions decided that this year they would dedicate the lighting to the Department of Health and all they have done this year to keep Rhode Island safe.  

In the 27 years that Nibbles has been lit (this year is year 28!) it’s been an event that should be on every Rhode Islanders bucket list. But there is a major change that needs to be noted for this year’s lighting – and not just that it’s online. You’ll notice that Nibbles is missing his big red nose. Why? If you’ve been anywhere near him this year, you’ll notice that he’s been wearing a mask. And, as we all know, proper mask usage means that the mask goes above your nose.

This omission is not only adorable, but a way of reminding us all to stay safe and responsible during the holiday season. Loscoe said, “In some ways, I think it serves as a perfect symbol as the how we’ve worked during the pandemic.”  And I mean, who can say no to Nibbles Woodaway leading the way? 

While everything looks different this holiday season, and I know we’re all aching for some normalcy, having Nibbles’ lighting online will still allow Rhode Islanders to take part in this tradition while staying safe and healthy, and remembering that the mask goes above your nose. 

Or, as the old Christmas song goes, “Rockin’ around the Big Blue Bug, at the Christmas party hop.” No? Is that not it? Well, it should be. 

See Nibble Woodaway come to life on Facebook Live December 1 at 5:30pm. You can find the feed at Big Blue Bug Solutions’ Facebook page, or Facebook.com/BigBlueBug