Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Holidays in Albany

Albany's usually much prettier this time of year, with snow on the ground and in the trees softening the appearance of everything, making the cold a bit more bearable.  All of that is absent so far, much like autumn was.  The most winter we've had yet was in October, even as the temperature dropped quite uncomfortably today.  Still, there are some nice things during the holidays that do a bit toward making up for the lack of proper northeast seasons. So let's take a look at some of them, particularly the Capital Holiday Lights and the recently re-introduced skating rink at Empire State Plaza.

Holiday Lights in Washington Park

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One of the larger displays in the middle of the park, with many more behind.  Taken earlier in December.
I took a nice stroll through the park over the weekend, during one of the last nights of the Capital Holiday Lights.  Here are some unfortunately dark iPhone photos of it:


The bridge over the lake.
There has been some controversy lately over the light displays, which benefit after-school programs for inner-city youth by the Albany Police Athletic League.  Concerns have been raised by the Washington Park Conservancy, a group of people who seem to detest fun and helping disadvantaged children, that "permanent damage" is being done to the park by the cords and stakes that support the light displays, and which also support other events such as the Capital Pride Festival and TulipFest.  Personally, being that many old industrial areas are slowly returning to nature, I fail to see how permanent damage can be done by some light fixtures and electrical wires.

Here is a link to an article, and another to a blog post, about the controversy.

The blog post (which, as usual, I bitchily participated in) included comments by some posters that talked about not being allowed in the park as pedestrians, sometimes even being kicked out of the park while walking their dogs.  While I think this might have been possible, and that sucks if it's true, I have yet to see this happen, after walking through the displays at all times of day for all four years that I've lived in Albany during the Holiday Season.  Of course, I've always used only the walking trails (to be fair, some of them claim they were as well), but I've walked right past police officers, attendants,  and other workers from both directions, all of the park, without a single incident in four years.   The night these pictures were taken, a young father was carrying his child on his shoulders walking down the regular road, co-mingling with cars, past two police officers, without a word spoken other than pleasantries.

Just saying.  Take a walk.  Enjoy. :)

The lake from the other side.
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A video of the lights, as dark pictures don't do the flashing much justice.

I like this one, a family of ducks running down the hill into the lake.  One of my posts from this summer featured a shot of some ducks taken right by here:
The Real Ducks of Washington Park.


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A video of the ducks in action.  I meant it, they really were running down the hill.

The bridge, decorated for the holidays and closed to pedestrians.

The Lake House.

Another nice sight: coming home down Lancaster Street, about to be warm after an hour of walking in the park.

The Trinity Methodist Church, another beautiful sight.
The Skating Rink at Empire State Plaza


The outdoor skating rink in the reflecting pools of Empire State Plaza has re-opened after a few years of hiatus, on New Year's Eve, days before the Holiday Lights closed for the season.  It was closed in 2008 due to budget issues.  It's unclear how the budget situation could possibly be much better now, but it's still very nice to see this return.

Here's a link to the governor's press release, a local NBC story (FYI, the local Fox story gets the year it closed wrong) and also to this photo gallery by the Albany Times Union.  My own pictures of it were taken during an unfortunately dark time in the afternoon, one of the few cloudy moments.  My apologies, but I really needed to catch the bus up to Pine Hills.

The skating rink with The Egg and the Corning Tower in the background.



The New York State Capitol building is in the background.  Either the Justice building or the Legislative building is next to it.  The Capitol is the one that looks like it's from Earth.

Taken from the steps of the Cultural Education Center, which we've "taken a walk to" here.
I hope your holidays were as lovely as ice skating and holiday lights.  Happy new year!

[And to the man I spoke to on Park Avenue today, those pictures will be up within a couple of weeks, in the Pedestrian Perspective - Pine Hills 1 post (I'm trying to bank some blogs for the upcoming semester).]

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