Scrooge You! Albany Pulling Plug on Holiday Lights Because it was Actually Popular
It felt like it was only a matter of time, but now it's official. After years of battle between City of Albany officials and the Albany Police Athletic League, an agreement was reached.
Capital Holiday Lights in the Park, arguably one of the cities most popular attractions, will be moving to a new location after its 25th and final winter inside Washington Park.
I realize that many factors went into this decision, and I'm sure that this post won't even scratch the surface discussing all of them, but it begs one simple question:
Why does a hurting, seemingly desperate city like Albany seem to do everything in its power to keep people away?
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I'm so tired of hearing people say what they hate about Albany, but man, we make it so easy for them sometimes.
Granted, most of the dumping comes from those who either moved out of Albany to the suburbs or would never come here in a million years.
And I get some of the concerns: Gun violence, high taxes, an old infrastructure, illegal ATVs, fireworks year-round, the growing number of drug addicts and beggars, a former Governor who liked to touch people, the list goes on and on.
If you live outside of Albany and want to talk trash about it, that's fine, there's plenty of sh*t-talking to do.
But if you live in the city, do us all a favor and stop whining about the few things that actually attract people to the city like Capital Holiday Lights in the Park.
Are some residents and businesses in Center Square inconvenienced by Capital Holiday Lights in the Park? You bet they are.
But if you live or work in the city, pretty much everything down here is an inconvenience. It's loud, the roads are bumpy, the residential parking is a nightmare, it can appear unsafe, and heck, it wasn't long ago that we had to stuff quarters in parking meters just to grab a burrito from a food truck.
Moving the Holiday Lights to another location is a bad look for Albany's key decision-makers, who once again, come off as the dustiest, "get off my lawn" people in the room.
The Holiday Lights are quite nice to look at, families enjoy them, the PAL benefits in a huge way, and it's literally the only unique and different thing this city has to offer. It's something in Albany that people actually came here to experience.
On a personal level, the lights in the park are one of three things in Albany we do every year as a family. We love them so much and live so close, that at night, I would just drive around the neighborhood so Samantha, my young son Brody and I can look at them.
God forbid Albany is festive!
So why did Capital Holiday Lights in the Park, loved by so many, get the boot? I really don't have the answer.
But perhaps it's because the Mayor can't put her own stamp on it, take control of it, and use it for political gain. Maybe because unless it's a social or structural concern, the Mayor won't prioritize it.
With all the millions of issues that Albany faces, controlling traffic flow at Lights in the Park seemed like a small task.
This year, they put a policy in place where people must purchase their tickets ahead of time like they do at haunted hayrides. That way your car's time is locked into place, and you can't just show up without a pass, resulting in less gridlock and more control.
But it's too little, too late, and something they probably should have been implemented 20 years ago.
As a resident, I won't even drive down Henry Johnson Blvd with my child in the car because I'm terrified of random gunfire.
But we're worried about traffic flow...TRAFFIC FLOW, during a Christmas light display?
Once again, Albany is coming off about as old and useful as the infrastructure beneath our roads.