LED Inventor Is Grand Marshal Of Champaign Parade of Lights

Nick Holonyak Jr.

The man credited with inventing the LED light  is the honorary grand marshal of the Champaign Center’s 19th Annual Parade of Lights. Nick Holonyak, Jr. created the first light emitting diode — or LED — in 1962 at General Electric.

He began teaching at his alma mater, the University of Illinois, a year later. Today, LEDs are used in everything from household lamps to streetlights, as well as holiday lights.

Genevieve Kirk is the executive director of the Champaign Center Partnership, the nonprofit that hosts the annual parade. She said it was only fitting that this year’s parade honors Holonyak.

“There’s a clear tie-in for the inventor of the LED and Parade of Lights, an event that’s all about celebrating light,” said Kirk. “And so many of our lighted floats will have LEDs on them this Saturday.”

Holonyak is 91-years-old and won’t be able to physically participate in the parade.

The Champaign Center Partnership honored the professor at a reception held earlier this week at his retirement home in Urbana. They presented Holonyak with a small fiber optic Christmas tree replete with LED lights.

The Parade of Lights begins Saturday at 6:00 p.m. in downtown Champaign.

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Lee V. Gaines

Lee V. Gaines

Lee Gaines covers Education for the Illinois Newsroom. She started at Illinois Public Media in 2017 and her stories have been featured nationally on NPR. Prior to her work at IPM, Lee wrote for newspapers and magazines in Chicago and nationally. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, Chicago Magazine, and the Marshall Project. She also recently completed a fellowship with the Education Writers Association. ➤ lvgaines@illinois.edu@LeeVGaines