|Friday Night Lights: Shelton, photographed October 2010 in Shelton, CT by Shannon Finney|
The town of Shelton, Connecticut is in the midst of a renewal. Like a lot of New England towns, it was a city of industry, producing everything from helicopter parts to rubber goods. But the industries that supported Shelton began to leave in the 1970s, and after a massive fire and explosion destroyed the Sponge Rubber Products Plant in 1975, the stage was set for the town's downward march. Today, Shelton is reviving itself, with new building projects downtown, and an infusion of state funds. But the struggles of its recent past are not forgotten, and some of Shelton's young citizens are pondering their futures. Do you get out or get stuck? There are glimmers of hope, mostly coming from the bright lights of the football field at Shelton High School last Friday night, where my husband and I spent the evening with family watching their eldest son, Theo, on the field. It was a big night - senior night - and the last home game of the season. It was a bitter-sweet night, of pride at the accomplishments of these senior high school players and anxiety over what their futures will be. After the game, we along with the hundreds of other spectators, parents, families and friends, took to the football field, and, as Theo strided over, face beaming from his team's victory, I noticed the brightness of his future and how it shone on his face. This is youth, this is hope, all under those Friday night lights.