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ALBANY: Tradition returns to light up the season

Albany's Washington Park is getting ready for the 11th annual Capital Holiday Lights display, a Capital District tradition that hasdelighted children and families for more than a decade.

This year, audiences can expect almost an entirely new display of drive-through holiday light sculptures. The display is presented by the Police Athletic League (PAL) of Albany and Hannaford supermarkets.

Over 70 percent of the show is going to be different this year, said Sgt. Leonard Ricchiuti, Executive Director of PAL. "People can still expect some of their favorite display's they've seen before, but this time we're going interactive, complete with a 'Where's Rudolph?' theme," he said.

The Where's Rudolph? theme will consist of multiple red-nosed reindeer hiding amongst the glowing displays situated throughout the park. Children will be invited to enter a drawing where they can guess on the number of red-nosed reindeer, all for a chance to win a holiday prize.

PAL puts on Capitol Holiday Lights, and the main mission is fostering after-school programs for thousands of young people in grades five to eight, within the city of Albany.

"We're focused on juvenile crime prevention," Ricchiuti continued. "All proceeds from Capital Holiday Lights go to support our after-school programs and activities, such as mentoring, chess and karate," he said.

Many people within the Capital District are also looking forward to the new version of Capital Holiday Lights. Erin Sawyer, manager of Block Buster Video in Latham, as well as a full-time student, is excited to see what the new display of holiday lights will bring.

"I heard they're going to do something new this year, so I'm really excited to see what that will be", she said.

Sawyer, who frequents Capital Holiday Lights in the park, usually goes with her mother and younger niece.

"It's a tradition in our family," she said. "We go and see the lights, then we go out for dinner. Sometimes we end up going more than once. I'll either go again with my boyfriend, or my mom and dad will go together. It really puts us in the holiday sprit, especially if there's snow on the ground. It's absolutely beautiful when the snow and the lights come together, like nothing I've ever seen. Sometimes I don't want to leave," she said.

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