Here is a letter from one of the residents of the neighborhood, my comments are in italics:
WE ARE IN DANGER OF LOSING THE WINTERHAVEN FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS!!
We are at a critical point in our future as a Community. As you are aware, and for obvious reasons, the City of Tucson can no longer fund our Festival of Lights. Due to the effects of the recession, there is no money to fund us. Please make no mistake, all efforts have been made in this regard. Now, we need to move on!
If you are moving on, that means to me that you are ending this tradition. However, I don't think that's what she meant, as you will see below.
Now we could chose from several options:
1. Stop having the festival after a 60 year run.
2. Fund it with minimum donations collected from the neighborhood.
3. Cut back considerably on the event, scale back and spend less money (still need to have some money).
4. Find long-term, sustaining corporate sponsors (small business, large business, locally owned business, businesses that benefit from the Festival, etc).
All of those are great options. You should all get right on that. From what I've read, you haven't been able to get those donations/sponsorships going.
The Winterhaven Board of Directors and other neighbors working with them are struggling with this dilemma. They are tired of being the only ones who make and keep commitments. As a neighbor who takes some responsibility for
some events, but who is not involved directly in the Christmas event (other than collecting food and money for the food back on drive through nights), I feel I can speak out frankly!
I think this letter is giving you an idea of a true "Condo Commando". Except, these aren't condos.
We (you and I) came to this neighborhood to live BECAUSE it is a neighborhood where people know and help each other; we came to this neighborhood to live BECAUSE we have an Oasis in the middle of the desert, an Oasis with trees, bushes, flowers, and green grass; we came to this neighborhood to live BECAUSE there are celebrations of life for us and for our children—one of those celebrations is the WINTERHAVEN FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS. Without these special aspects of our Community, we are simply 1950's style tract homes. All of the items above create a neighborhood where people want to live and where property values are increased.
Maybe some of those people came to the neighborhood back when it was built and it was just another neighborhood in Tucson. Maybe some of the people came because of the lawns, which is freaking RIDICULOUS since this is the DESERT and your lawns are a huge waste of water. This festival is nothing but a traffic nightmare for the rest of us who could give two shakes for twinkle lights. There is nothing wrong with being a neighborhood of "1950s style tract homes", unless you only moved there so that you had to deal with a ton of people driving through your neighborhood EVERY WINTER to look at your light pollution (this is a dark town, after all).
The first Festival was in 1949. Last year marked 60 years of Festival. Do we really want to end this tradition? Do we really want to let down the community of Tucson (well over 100,000 people came to see us last year)? Do we really want to stop funding the Tucson Community Food Bank? Last year we gave them $23,000 (which, by the way, buys them $207,000 worth of food, and we donated 33,000 lbs. of food. This food drive represents the 2nd.
largest annual food drive for the Tucson Community Food Bank. Do we really want to tell Tucson that we are stopping this tradition?
I applaud your donation to the Food Bank, but I wonder how much was spent to get that $23K to the Food Bank. I'd rather the City just give the $85K to the Food Bank than to pay to put on this pollution-fest you call the Festival of Lights. Please stop this debacle so that those of who need to drive around that area don't have to avoid it for a month because no one knows where to park/drive/walk so that they can go look at some freaking lights. Now, what you could do, if you REALLY need this festival to happen, is, well, keep turning on your electricity sucking lights and let people drive around, but have someone from your Board of Directors standing at each entrance collecting an entrance fee of cash or food to go gawk at your lights. Oh yeah, and you handle the parking and traffic nightmare. Stop depending on the city to handle your desires. It's a private neighborhood, be private. Stop being whiny Socialists.