Sunday, December 5, 2010

Washington Park Rip-Off

So let me get this straight. If for some reason, I wanted to drive through Albany’s Washington Park and see all the annual Christmas Lights, I have to pay to do it? That seems insane, but yes, it’s true.

According to To drive through the display, it costs $15 per car, $25 for a limo or 15-passenger van and $75 for a bus. Discount coupons for $5.00 off admission on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings are available exclusively at Capital Region Hannaford stores.

Is this a joke? First off, me personally: you couldn’t PAY ME to take time out of my life to drive down to Albany and go through the park to look at Christmas lights. I don’t care how "amazing" and "beautiful" they may be. They're lights! $15.oo? In this economy? No way. I’d rather go to that parade in Schenectady the night after Thanksgiving then straight to the Plaza to watch Fourth of July fireworks over and over again. That’s how low "lights" rank on my to-do list. But that's just me. If you’re “doing it for the kids” guy, let me fill you in: the kids might not want to do it either. Every time my parents dragged me to that stuff, I hated it. In the future, if I someday have kids, I won’t do it with them unless they want me to. In which case you have to, I guess. To steal a line from Holden Caulfield: It’s just so phony.

According to All proceeds from Hannaford Capital Holiday Lights will benefit the Albany Police Athletic League, PAL, celebrating its 18th year as a juvenile crime- prevention program in the City of Albany.

OK, that’s nice that the money is going to "benefit" PAL, I get that. I also doubt that’s where ALL the money’s going. Notice the word "benefit." Vague enough for you? But if that’s the goal, to raise cash (I mean: benefit) for PAL, it might be better to simply encourage donations. This time a year, people are usually pretty good about that. Even me. I’ll be giving my annual to the Mohawk/Hudson Humane Society. And this past weekend, I even gave one of those fundraising kids outside the Wal-Mart entrance $5.00, and you know how I feel about that. My point: There’s no need to put a gun to good, hard working people’s heads, to make them pay, if for some reason, they want to patronize this thing. Especially in a city like Albany, where the tax burden is through the roof and violent crimes are occurring with way too much frequency. And I know everyone that does this Lights in the Park deal isn’t from Albany, but like I said before: there’s a difference between a handout and a donation. And there’s definitely a difference when you’re forcing people to give the handout.

'Tis the season, I suppose. Make a dime off 'em anyway you can. I can't believe Ebenezer Scrooge never thought of this scam. Charge people to look at a bunch of lights, arranged like an angel or Santa Claus face. Bah humbug!

Brian Huba

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