As one of the most recognizable landmarks in Rhode Island, the Big Blue Bug has long been a favorite of the state’s residents — not to mention an effective marketing tool for Providence-based Big Blue Bug Solutions (formerly New England Pest Control). Anchored atop the company’s headquarters and overlooking I-95, the Big Blue Bug has become ingrained in the Providence skyline since it was born in 1980.
The bug, which stands 58 feet tall and weighs two tons, is perhaps even more of a sight to behold during the holidays, when it is dressed with antlers, a red nose and lighted with about 7,500 bulbs — from head to abdomen. Duff Electric, a Rhode Island firm that primarily works overseas, decorates and installs lights on the bug.
“It takes about two days and they have the expertise to install the bulbs and also to stabilize everything so that it can withstand a winter storm,” said Big Blue Bug Solutions CEO Brian Goldman.
Goldman says 27 years ago Big Blue began decorating/lighting the bug during the holidays, and he says the lighting ceremony has evolved to become a community-wide event. Big Blue Bug Solutions invites local TV stations to the lighting and technicians and customer service reps get involved by welcoming attendees. “New York City has the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center. For Rhode Island, it is lighting the Big Blue Bug,” said Goldman.
Two years ago, Rhode Island resident Billy Gilman — a country music child star who recently revived his career on the TV program “The Voice” — was a guest singer. For this year’s ceremony, local businessmen and celebrities Ron and Pete Cardi (of Cardi’s Furniture) did the ceremonial lighting in memory of their late brother, Nick, who passed away in August. Also for this year’s lighting ceremony, Big Blue Bug Solutions lead wildlife specialist Joshua Brown built a platform to showcase the “on switch.” The platform was decked out with an oversized candy cane-like structure with a ball on top that resembles the Times Square New Year’s ball.
Goldman said Big Blue Bug Solutions is always looking for ways to give back to the communities it serves; lighting the Big Blue Bug not only does that, but it also involves the community. “Something we learned from the Cardi brothers is to involve the community. Do something where everyone can be a part of it, and everyone can enjoy it. It puts a smile on everyone’s faces. Parents will tell their kids that we’ll drive by Big Blue Bug as a reward for going to the doctor’s or dentist’s.” — Brad Harbison