Lighting the night

16th year a sweet one for Holiday Lights show (photos)

Monday, November 19, 2012
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Lighting the night

The lighting of the 16th Annual Capital Holiday Lights in the Park in Albany's Washington Park on Monday, November 19, 2012.
Photographer: Patrick Dodson
The lighting of the 16th Annual Capital Holiday Lights in the Park in Albany's Washington Park on Monday, November 19, 2012.

— Capital Holiday Lights is celebrating its sweet 16th.

The annual tradition in Albany’s Washington Park kicks off its 16th year at 6 p.m. Friday and continues through Jan. 5. Organizers held an official lighting Monday evening.

In connection with the sweet theme, there will be lights depicting candy canes, lollipops, gum drops and sugar plums. The two miles of 125 illuminated displays will include the traditional holiday themed Frosty the Snowman and toy soldiers standing by the guard house.

The event, sponsored by the Price Chopper supermarket chain, is the major fundraiser for the Albany Police Athletic League, which serves more than 3,000 children annually. Organizers hope to raise around $175,000, according to Lenny Ricchiuti, the retired sergeant who is the PAL executive director.

About 100 volunteers have spent thousands of hours creating the lighting displays. “We began setting up the Saturday after Labor Day,” he said.

Event spokeswoman Kathy Condon said children especially seem to have a good time looking at the lights.

“It’s a family outing and it’s just fun,” she said.

Hours are from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is $15 per car, $25 per limousine and $75 per bus.

At the end of the drive through, people can hit the Washington Park Lake House and enjoy refreshments, buy crafts and visit costumed characters. Santa Claus will be there until Dec. 23.

Three nights are designated for walking only in the park from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and are designated to raise money for other nonprofit organizations. Admission to the lights is free, but donations are requested.

Tonight the theme is “It’s for the Kids” and seeks donations of money or toys for less-fortunate children. Wednesday is “Pets Walk Your People Night” to benefit the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society and “Aid the Wounded Warriors Project.” The last pedestrian-only night is Jan. 5 — “PAL Packs the Pantry” — and seeks a monetary donation to benefit local food pantries.

Price Chopper is returning this year as the title sponsor after sponsoring the event during it early years. The supermarket is offering discounted tickets at $10 every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. People can come to any store register and to buy the tickets on those days.

Price Chopper spokeswoman Mona Golub said the event has become a holiday tradition for so many people. “It’s great family entertainment — simple, beautiful and traditional,” she said.

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