This year’s Lights in The Parkway may be the last in Allentown as we know it.
The December event, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, will go ahead as planned this year, but Allentown is considering moving the event to 2023.
Lights in the Parkway, a ticketed display of holiday lights through Lehigh Park in Allentown, runs from late November to late December.
City spokesman Genesis Ortega said the city wants to improve the event because of how disruptive it is to areas around Lehigh Parkway. Ortega did not say what those improvements might be.
The lights on the Parkway also distract nearly all of the city’s park maintenance workers from working the event, meaning they are scarce in December.
“They really have to drop everything to run Lights in the Parkway,” Ortega said of the city’s parks department. “For those reasons, it was difficult to turn on the lights on the Parkway.”
The city has not yet confirmed details of the new event. The City Council will discuss possible alternatives at a committee meeting Wednesday night at City Hall.
Some city leaders worry that changing the 25-year-old tradition could be a loss for Allentown.
“It’s the only thing people come to Allentown for at Christmas,” said Councilwoman Candida Afa, chairwoman of the Parks and Recreation Department. “I think we’re losing the brand.”
Last year’s Lights in the Parkway event cost the city about $26,000, according to a memo from Comptroller Jeff Glaser. The event cost $388,000 and generated $362,000 in revenue, Glazer reports.
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But events like Lights in the Parkway are about more than just revenue, Glazer said.
“It’s nice to cover your costs, but it has to be something, and I think Lights in the Parkway falls into that because it’s an attraction and makes the city an attractive place to live,” Glaser said.
Glazier’s financial projections show the city will generate about $58,000 in revenue from Lights in the Parkway this year. Last year’s loss was because the city spent more than usual to celebrate the 25th anniversary, Glazer said.
However, Ortega said financial considerations are not part of why the city might change the event.
Lights in the Parkway isn’t the only holiday event getting a makeover in town. Allentown is canceling its Halloween parade, billed as the nation’s oldest Halloween parade. Instead, the city will hold a walking parade through downtown Allentown on Saturday, October 29, and a Day of the Dead festival at the Allentown Arts Park.
Ortega said Allentown’s West End Halloween parade has seen a decline in attendance in recent years, and that the city has received positive feedback about the new festivities planned.
Morning Call reporter Lindsay Weber can be reached at 610-820-6681 and email@example.com.