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Winter Wonderland: Washington Park after Dark

December 8, 2012

by Daniel Stawarz

Let there be light! The 16th annual  Price Chopper Capital Holiday Lights show unveiled its weekend activities Friday night.

Washington Park was transformed into a bright winter wonderland when the Albany Police Athletic League  flipped the light switch and opened the drive through.  Santa’s toy shop was lit well enough  to look authentic.

“This event brings members of the community together to celebrate the holidays including people outside of our community. We have people attending from Vermont, Massachusetts, and more surrounding states every year,” said Sherry Rose, a supervisor of the event. “It really just sets the mood for the holidays.”

All the profits collected are used by the Juvenile Crime Prevention Program run by PAL. This program for 25 years has helped keep 3,000 kids off the streets with after school and out of school programs, including camps. Volunteers Friday were glad to participate.

Santa with Amy Ricchiutti and Samanthan Yanni/[photo: Dan Stawarz]

Santa with Amy Ricchiutti and Samanthan Yanni/[photo: Dan Stawarz

Amy Ricchiuti, the daughter of Executive Director of the PAL , Leonard Ricchiuti, was excited to work the fundraiser with  Samantha Yanni.

“I enjoy being involved in such a good cause; especially in an organization my father takes such pride in running,” the younger Ricchiutti said. Both cashiers were dressed as elves working the concession stand inside the Lakehouse selling food and refreshments throughout the night.“This event gives the community a sense of holiday spirit and makes the town look very pretty,” said Ricchiuti.

Yanni added, “This lighting tradition brings many families together both local and distant just to see the lights. It provokes Christmas spirit throughout the entire community,” she said. “We’re serving a very good cause and I enjoy being a part of it.”

Lights of all different shapes and sizes lit up Washington Park. Inside the Lakehouse are an abundance of venders selling various Christmas ornaments, teddy bears and stuffed animals, jewelry and some holiday cookies and other holiday goods. Santa is visiting for photos with children and families.

Rose, both PAL office manager and Lakehouse supervisor, was excited to speak of all the good work the PAL does and how they spread the Holiday spirit in their community.

“Every year we try to upgrade the park for the community; we intend to leave the park as we found it while also bettering it for the community and the environment,” said Rose. She explained that  PAL pays not only for this traditional event, but other events that take place in Washington Park. They pay for all the electricity the park uses yearly as well.

Representatives from FLY 92.3 were there sponsoring music for the event, including an abundance of Christmas music.

“We do events like this all the time and we enjoy them. We often set up tents, give out free stuff, and supply the music which is what we’re best at,” said Ben Stgelais, of FLY. “It’s heartwarming to support such a good cause, also to get the name out with a good reputation for both the neighborhood and our radio station.”  -30-


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