Huntington Supervisor Ed Smyth and Huntington Village Business Improvement District president Dominic Catoggio on Monday defended the decision to move the holiday parade to Heckscher Park.
In the last two years, the holiday celebration had occurred on Wall Street, which was welcomed by some and criticized by others because of traffic changes and effects on business. Last week, the town said it had “reimagined” the celebration and decided to move it from to Heckscher Park.
While a holiday celebration had been held for 12 years, it had been at the Wall Sreet location for two. The Wall Street site was very popular with many families enjoying with music, dancing, an appearance by Santa Claus and the placement of a huge Christmas tree in the middle of the street. A parade came up New York Avenue and ended near the Wall Street celebration. But not merchants in town appreciated the parade and Wall Street closing, with some complaining that the events harmed their businesses.
The parade will continue this year, turning east from New York Avenue and heading down to Town Hall and Heckscher Park.
Responding to dozens of social media comments ranging from accusations of poor decisionmaking to support for the move, Smyth and Catoggio’s emailed statement read,
Over the past two years, the Huntington Village Business Improvement District (BID) and local vendors worked to create a Village Holiday Spectacular that included a parade, tree lighting, and special events for the Holiday season. The Holiday Spectacular also included the closure of Wall Street in the Village to vehicular traffic to allow for a walkable downtown.
Unfortunately, the closure of Wall Street was deemed problematic to some, including local first responders. It was the subsequent decision by the BID to reimagine the Holiday event by relocating the festivities to another part of the Village. The reimagination would allow the BID to offer a larger, more interactive event that would still include the now traditional holiday feel. Unfortunately, there was not enough time for the BID to coordinate a newly envisioned plan for 2022.
The Town of Huntington has always been a supporter of the Holiday Spectacular by offering promotional, technical and logistical services to the BID for this event. Never has the Town been responsible for the location or creative coordination. The Town, however, as in the past years, stands ready, willing and able to support the BID in any way possible. In an effort to assist the BID in keeping the tradition alive, the Town of Huntington offered the suggestion to allow the after-parade festivities in Heckscher Park.
This event was created during the height of the COVID pandemic. Like many things imagined at that time, it will be ever-changing based on the needs of the community, our town and our merchants. We look forward to seeing how the Huntington Holiday Spectacular evolves in the future, beginning with 2022.