Allegheny County officials announced Monday that the Annual Celebration of Lights at Hartwood Acres Park has been suspended due to increasing costs and declining sponsorships.
"This is not a decision that we made lightly. The Celebration of Lights has been a great holiday tradition since 1991," said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. "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. This past year, over 2 million lights were in the three-mile drive, drawing 170,000 visitors and generating $160,000 for charity.
“It wasn’t an easy decision,” Fitzgerald said.
Supporters of the event, like Shawn Fitzgerald, said they’re willing to try to keep the tradition going.
“I couldn’t handle it. I was thinking what I could do to bring people together and talk about ways it won’t go away,” Shawn Fitzgerald said.
Shawn Fitzgerald told Channel 11’s Brandon Hudson that he created a Facebook page in an effort to rally support for the event.
“On Christmas Eve, we would all go there after Mass. It was a tradition,” Shawn Fitzgerald said. “Some people who have worked with the project in the past have told me they don’t want to see it go away, either.”