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.
5 Replies to “Smyth, Catoggio Defend Relocation of Holiday Celebration”
Once again, the will of the people has been trampled by politics. In the past, when the tree was placed on Wall and Gerard Streets, the throngs of people in the area during the holidays were amazing. How does that have a negative impact on surrounding businesses? This is about politics and deep pockets. There is no real incentive to go to Heckscher Park to see the tree. There are no shops to cruise, no restaurants in which to dine, nothing. Sure, a few will go to the park. But I for one will boycott the business district because of this change. There are too many other villages that are holiday-spirit-minded. Huntington will not be one of them this year.
What about the businesses with no parking and thus no business for weeks while the tree is up? You either care about the yuletide event or you don’t.
One if the negative impacts on the merchants is because the date of the parade was poorly chosen as the same day as Small Business Saturday and the streets are closed for parking early in the day, chasing away their customers. Because of the traffic before the parade, people would stay away from the village instead of coming to it.
Any village event should be planned collaboratively with the village merchants because keeping them alive is what adds value to our neighborhood.
Instead of fighting over the location of the parade, I think there should be some focus on the components of the parade. Music should be limited to holiday music, not some of the obnoxious stuff played and there should be a no drinking (alcohol) policy for participants because it’s obvious that some, include the fire departments use this as an excuse to party. Let them do that at the fire house after if that’s what they want to do. This is supposed to be a family event, not Margo gras.
And to the person above, how could you say that closing Wall Street doesn’t have a negative impact on the businesses there? It’s obvious that customers can’t park on the street near those business to shop or pick up food. You mention boycotting the business district, what will that prove? If you have something against the politicians complain to them, don’t take your frustration out on the business owners!
To be able to walk to the tree from anywhere you are in the village is key!!!! Once you take pictures, pop into a bar for a drink, a restaurant for a bite, a shop to browse, buy gifts, get coffee! It’s fantastic for those stores on the street the tree was. Living in Huntington village, you always find anywhere to park and just walk to a business anyway, you very rarely park right in front of the building. To have a holiday set up like that in the heart of a village is what Holidays are all about. I remember walking down the street picking up some last minute things for Christmas at the bakery and seeing that tree and it was the true holiday spirit. Moving it may be safer for first responders and that’s really the only thing that should be the reason for this change.
I avoided downtown businesses like the plague during the past two years. Good riddens. Fine event for a park. NOT a main thorough-fare.