Friday was the night the lights went out in Moravian Falls.
It famously happened earlier in Georgia (in the song made popular by Reba McEntire), but when it occurred at Wes Steele Stadium, it left hundreds of bewildered football spectators in the dark.
All of them — myself included— immediately wondered if the homecoming festivities could continue. We also were thinking, “How are we going to play the second half in the dark?”
It turns out, you can’t really improvise and safely play football without stadium lights, but you can finish homecoming if you apply equal measures of ingenuity and determination.
When the stadium lights first went out, for a split second I thought I’d then hear the first few keyboard notes of “Sirius,” the Alan Parsons Project song that introduces the Eagle volleyball and basketball teams when the lights momentarily go out inside Central’s gymnasium.
No “Sirius.” Just a few gasps of shock but mainly stunned silence. After a few moments, we all came to realize these lights were really off. No one had flipped a switch by mistake.
A blown transformer was the culprit. School officials quickly called Duke Energy, but no one answered the phone, I was told. So the outage was reported online and everyone crossed their fingers.
Meanwhile, to provide more ambient light than the nearly-full moon was providing, school staff turned on the lights at the nearby softball and baseball fields and rounded up all the all-terrain vehicles they could find on campus, directing the headlights in front of the homestand on the senior homecoming king and queen candidates.
After Cortara McCurdy was crowned homecoming queen, there was the matter of the football game against Alleghany, which was only half over but was leaning quite heavily in Central’s favor, 44 to 6.
As we bided our time, hoping the cavalry from Duke Energy would arrive soon, the press box announced that pizza slices had been slashed to $1, and chicken sandwiches were discounted to $2—a moonlight special, if you will.
The student section started chanting “We want the lights!” and the student band began playing “Light ’Em Up” by Fall Out Boy. Those efforts were to no avail, despite the witty attempt by the band.
A half hour into the waiting game, I was admittedly getting bored. I couldn’t help but wonder if such a blackout had happened at any major sports stadiums.
Turns out, it has —quite often. In 2013 at the Super Bowl, no less, the Superdome lights in New Orleans went out for 34 minutes. A faulty relay outside the stadium was the culprit.
Then there was the 2012 World Cup match between Argentina and Brazil in front of 25,000 fans. A failed power grid led to half the stadium’s lights going dark, forcing the suspension of the match.
In the middle of game four of the 1988 Stanley Cup finals, the entire Boston Garden went black as night and the hockey game was canceled. The total loss of power was attributed to fog created by the ice mixing with the warmer summer air.
At 9:20 p.m. Friday, about an hour after the lights went out in Moravian Falls, the press box announced that the Wilkes Central-Alleghany football game was officially over.
When I got home, I flipped off the lights in the living room. I laughed and told my wife, “Let me tell you about the football game tonight.”