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Lights out this year for holiday parade in Town of Niagara

The Electric Lights Parade, a holiday tradition in the Town of Niagara for the past 14 years, will not take place this year, Supervisor Lee S. Wallace confirmed Saturday.

Instead, the parade traditionally held along Military Road in early November will return in 2020 in conjunction with “Noel at Niagara” at Veterans Memorial Community Park in Niagara Falls, said the supervisor.

“It’s been rumored for a while, but on Thursday I was fairly certain the Town of Niagara Business and Professional Association was letting it go,” said Wallace. “The Town of Niagara never ran the parade, but I didn’t think we should let it go by the wayside. With the time we had, I didn’t think it we could pull it off. We are not ready.”

The Electric Lights Parade was organized by the Town of Niagara Business and Professional Association with support from the town. It kicked off the holiday season in the town’s commercial district, attracting thousands of families who lined Military between Fourth Avenue and Packard Road.

The business association could not be reached for comment Saturday.

“Parades are not cheap to put on,” said Gary Strenkoski, a Town of Wheatfield businessman, community leader and Wheatfield Town Justice. Strenkoski  helped to launch the parade in 2005. He called this year’s cancellation a matter of funding. “The marching groups volunteer, but there are a lot of people who have to get paid. The insurance is a killer, very expensive. I wanted to pass on the reins. It is time for a change. We had a very large committee to get it going. Sometimes it’s hard to let go.”

Traditionally, the association enlisted the sponsorship of local corporations and merchants, said Strenkoski. In 2018, the major sponsor was Republic Services (Allied Waste Industries of Niagara Falls). Allied Waste owns and operates the Niagara Falls Sanitary Landfill.

An important component of the parade was the food drive that collected non-perishable donations from parade spectators for distribution throughout Niagara County.

“We had some huge drives where we required four food vans to transport the donations,” said Strenkoski. “I quietly helped last year with the parade, but someone needed to step in to keep it going."

Police protection and judges for the parade were provided by the town, said Wallace.

"We didn’t organize it. If we did get the bands, we just were a support, but now that they’re letting it go we will give it a shot next year and run it in conjunction with our event."

“Noel at Niagara” is still scheduled to take place this year, opening at 6 p.m. Nov. 23 in Veterans Park, 7000 Lockport Road. The light festival will include a visit from Santa Claus, fireworks display, the Bob Volkman Band and refreshments.

Displays will be illuminated from 5 to 9 p.m. daily through Jan. 5, 2020.

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