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Capital Holiday Lights offers a dazzling display

The holiday season is about coming together be it family, friends or community and this year's theme for the 13th Hannaford Capital Holiday Lights reflects just that. "Celebrate Our Differences," which looks like a collection of over-sized Christmas light displays and spans two miles in Albany's Washington Park, will feature new themed areas like "Salute to Americans," "12 Days of Christmas," "Santa's Toyland," "The Victorian Village" and "Celebrate Our Differences."

"It's basically a celebration of the Capital Region. When we started talking about this year's theme, last year, we were discussing how it's the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson and about what a melting pot the Capital Region really is relative to race, religion and ethnicity," said Executive Director of the Police Athletic League (PAL) and retired Albany Police Sgt. Lenny Ricchiuti. "It makes it a great place to live, work and grow, and we thought we would celebrate it."

Ricchiuti said that perhaps the main representation of this theme will be toward the end of the spectacle, where a huge display with the word "peace" and a symbol of the holidays from 15 different countries will loom.

Capital Holiday Lights features a total of 125 displays, so planning must begin early. Ricchiuti said a committee of about five to 10 people sits down throughout the entire year to talk about the current show, past shows and future shows. Once it agrees upon a theme, the display vendor gets involved and draws up an artist rendering of what it can do. Last year's theme was "Christmas Around the World" and featured Santa visiting the Sydney Opera House, the London Bridge, Mount Rushmore and other landmarks. Ricchiuti said that discussing designs and viewing drawings beforehand helped expedite the production process and gave the committee a good idea of what they could expect everything to look like.

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