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Hope Is The Message Of 2020's Capital Holiday Lights In The Park

A holiday tradition in Albany has returned for 2020. WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports on the annual Capital Holiday Lights in the Park display.

“Five, four, three, two, one! Let there be light!”

A lighting ceremony was held Tuesday night for the annual display that transforms Albany’s Washington Park into a glowing holiday celebration.

Lenny Ricchiuti, Executive Director of the Albany Police Athletic League, which organizes the display, led the countdown before a small crowd – and Santa Claus – in front of the Washington Park Lake House.

He said the Lights in the Park event will be a COVID-safe event for families who can purchase their tickets in advance.

“You can purchase your tickets online, you can hold up your QR code to the window – we can scan through the window, remains paperless, touchless…”

2020 marks the 24th event for the display sponsored by Price Chopper/Market 32. But there will be another thing different about this year – due to the pandemic, festivities will not be held inside the Lake House.

“The folks who go inside the Lake House, they’ll have a little different experience because there’s no Lake House this year. Our vendors, we have all their information up on the website in case there is that something you get every year from a vendor. But for the most part, obviously, we’re able to provide the drive-through and people are very excited for that.”

There will also be four food trucks stationed in the park.

Those who are familiar with Lights in the Park can keep their eyes peeled for this year’s new display, reading “Hope.”

Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins said outdoor recreation opportunities during the cold months are important for a city that has seen a tough year.

“It’s important for the city. Hope is one of the themes this year. And we’ve had a difficult summer. And to have some hope right now is a very important thing and events like this, they give us hope,” said Hawkins.

Lights in the Park will run Sundays through Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 6 to 10 p.m. Tickets for cars start at $25.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan says the price of admission goes to a good cause.

“PAL has been there throughout COVID providing safe childcare, after-school activities, summer programs that were COVID-safe for our kids. And this funding that comes through Lights in the Park is really critically important to their budget. So I’m hoping people come out, I’m hoping they’re generous, and I’m hoping they enjoy the Lights in the Park this year,” said Sheehan.

Several events will be held before the official start to the holiday display on November 27th.

A drive-through sneak peek will be held this Friday and Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m. On Sunday, November 22nd, a Bike & Lights event will be held from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., and a Triple F Food walk to benefit the Food Pantries of the Capital District will take place from 5:45 to 7:30 p.m. On Monday, November 24th, the Pet Walk night returns from 5 to 7 p.m.

The Albany Police Athletic League is seeking volunteers nightly for the event that runs from November 27th through January 3rd.

For more information visit: http://albanycapitalholidaylights.com/

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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