The holiday season around Pittsburgh will lack a bit of light this year.
Allegheny County administration said on Monday that the county's annual Celebration of Lights at Hartwood Acres Park will be suspended this year. Increasing costs and declining sponsorship, particularly in light of the county's limited financial resources, are to blame.
"This is not a decision that we made lightly," county Executive Rich Fitzgerald said in a news release. "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 20 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.
"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 2 million lights were part of the celebration's 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 and Salvation Army," Fitzgerald said. "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."
Was the Celebration of Lights a holiday tradition for your family? What do you think of the decision to suspend it?
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