Lighting the way for others

The Capital Holiday Lights display covers two miles in Albany’s Washington Park. Admission is $15 per car.

The Capital Holiday Lights display covers two miles in Albany’s Washington Park. Admission is $15 per car.

Kindlon said that she feels lucky to be able to own her own business, and it’s important to give back. The Wounded Warrior Project resonated with her because she’s a mother.

“It was hard enough to send my kids to college,” she said. “I can’t imagine sending them to war.”

The walk nights called for monetary donations that were shared with the Wounded Warrior Project and the Humane Society. On regular nights, the admission cost – $15 per car, $25 per limousine and $75 per bus – benefits PAL, which Ricchiuti said serves some 3,000 kids. It offers field trips and summer camps, a variety of clubs, sports programs and leadership opportunities.

Bob Wolfgang, former owner of the Albany Aquaducks and a PAL board member, was the one who dreamed up the idea of a lights display to raise money for the organization. The venture never would have enjoyed the success it has without an incredibly dedicated volunteer base, Ricchiuti said. Setting up the lights requires roughly 9,000 hours, he said, with electricians and laborers who could earn as much as $18 to $30 an hour just donating their time.

Unlike many light displays, many of the components of Capital Holiday Lights change each year since PAL owns only about 60 percent of the show. The other 40 percent is leased, which helps keep people coming back, Ricchiuti said. He noted that the lights have grown into a holiday tradition for many families across the region, including his own. If his family didn’t go to the lights, his daughters, who are 20 and 23 and grew up visiting the park, would think something was wrong, he said.

“They’d say, what’s going on? Is everyone fighting?” he said with a laugh.

Capital Holiday Lights is not just a fun activity for families, it’s a cheap one, he said. Movies cost more than $10 a ticket per person, but a whole car full of people can enjoy the lights for just $15.

The lights display covers two miles in Albany’s Washington Park. Hours are 6 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 6 to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays. For more information, visit www.albanycapitalholidaylights.com.

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