The holiday season will lack a bit of light in Pittsburgh this year.
Allegheny County officials said Monday that the annual Celebration of Lights at Hartwood Acres Park will be suspended this year. Increasing costs and declining sponsorships, particularly in light of the county's limited financial resources, are to blame.
“This is not a decision that we made lightly. The Celebration of Lights has been a great holiday tradition since 1991. We have been proud to partner with the Salvation Army and WTAE TV 4 for the past twenty years on this and are gratified that we have helped to generate $3.7 million in revenues for Project Bundle-Up and other local charities during that time,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, in a statement released Monday. “The cost to operate the event has increased year after year, and unfortunately, sponsorships have declined. Last year, taxpayers had to cover most of the Celebration of Lights’ $1.5 million cost. With the county’s limited financial resources, it is just not something that we are able to continue offering.”
The Celebration of Lights began in 1991 with 28 displays and 250,000 lights. In 2011, more than two million lights were part of the three-mile drive, which drew 170,000 visitors and generated $160,000 for charity.
“We also recognize that this decision is going to have an impact upon WTAE Project Bundle UP & Salvation Army. My administration is committed to doing anything we can do to help them offset that loss and we look forward to partnering with them to meet their mission of providing new winter outwear for disadvantaged children and seniors across Western Pennsylvania,” said Fitzgerald.
Was the Celebration of Lights a holiday tradition for your family? What do you think of the decision to suspend it?