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Maybe it’s not such a bright idea


Copake decides to keep ‘Holiday’ in seasonal celebration
COPAKE—Those twinkly strings of multi-colored light bulbs wrapped around anything that moves are the stars of the annual upcoming Copake Light Parade.

But whether this illuminating town event should be called the Holiday Light Parade or the Christmas Light Parade sparked differing opinions at the November 14 Town Board meeting.

While reporting on the latest Town Park and Recreation Commission meeting, commission member Lindsay LeBrecht noted the Light Parade was scheduled to take place Saturday, December 14 this year.

Stepping off from the Copake firehouse, the procession is made up of homespun floats, fire trucks, cars, tractors, wagons, people on horseback, aboard bicycles or on foot, all decorated with sparkling lights to brighten the nighttime occasion. The glowing lineup makes its way through the hamlet and around the block to the Town Park, where Santa holds a meet-and-greet, typically with hundreds of youngsters, and there’s a bonfire and hot cocoa for everybody.

The town sponsors the event, spending between $500 to $700 for gifts for the youngsters and other associated expenses. The event is organized and orchestrated by the town park commission.

During her report to the board, Ms. LeBrecht asked the Town Board to help out by baking some homemade cookies or volunteering as Santa’s helpers.

She also mentioned that the park commission had decided to change the name of the event from the Holiday Light Parade to the Christmas Light Parade.

The announcement did not sit well with Town Supervisor Jeff Nayer, who said that the park commission had made a mistake. As the Holiday Light Parade, the event was inclusive and should stay that way, said the supervisor. “What if someone wants to put a Kwanzaa or a Chanukah float in the parade? Are you going to tell them, no?” he asked.

The event was previously the Christmas Light Parade “because Santa is there,” said Ms. LeBrecht, turning to fellow commission member Chris Quinby for some back up.

Mr. Quinby, who is closely tied to Santa Claus, said the commission had voted to change the name back to the Christmas Light Parade. He said churches that participate in the event have questioned why it was no longer the Christmas Light Parade like it used to be.

“I take offense,” said Supervisor Nayer. “There are people in this town from all walks of life. I think they will be offended. Thanksgiving is on the first night of Chanukah. The commission should reconsider this. I have a problem with this,” he continued, noting he is not a religious person, but was raised in the Jewish faith. “I can see where people can have a problem with this. We should keep it the Holiday Light Parade.”

Councilpersons Susan Winchell-Sweeney and Jeanne Mettler both said they support the supervisor’s position.

Councilperson Kelly Miller-Simmons suggested the name be simply the Parade of Lights.

During the meeting’s public comment period, resident Stosh Gansowski said, “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, we should call it a duck. I don’t think Christmas ever offended anybody.”

Board member-elect David Paciencia said the parade should be named for whatever it celebrates whether it’s the holidays or Christmas. He said it should not be called the Parade of Lights because you can have a Parade of Lights 365 days a year.

In a follow up phone call this week, Mr. Quinby said that the light parade started about 10 years ago as the Christmas Light Parade. He said between six and eight years ago, the name was changed to the Holiday Light Parade at the suggestion of former town Councilman Bob Sacks, who has since moved away. He said six members of the commission, enough for a quorum, were present at the group’s last meeting and five of them voted in favor of the name change.

He also said that after some further discussion since the Town Board meeting the commission decided to leave the name the Holiday Light Parade. He said the intention was never to exclude anyone.

In other business the board:

*Heard from Harvey Weber, who wondered what was being done about getting a new pharmacy in Copake. Last month Mr. Weber presented a petition with 78 signatures to the board seeking action. Supervisor Nayer said CVS bought the former Copake Pharmacy business in April 2012, but had no interest in the building. He said there is a clause in the sales agreement preventing another pharmacy from locating in the building for five years. The supervisor asked Mr. Weber to assemble a group of three people who will work with the supervisor on the issue.

*Heard that the Farmland Protection Committee has forwarded recommended zoning law changes related to the slaughter and processing of fowl and small animals on to the Land Use Review Committee, its consultant and the town attorney; a revised law is expected to be ready for Town Board consideration by the December meeting.

*Heard from Supervisor Nayer that the town will get a credit card machine as a convenience to townspeople who want to pay their taxes by credit card. He said there would be no charge to the town and that any fees charged by credit card companies would be paid by cardholders.

*Heard from the supervisor that he would not apply for a town credit card because he did not want the town to have to pay interest charges if a payment was late. He said he uses his own credit card when necessary and submits vouchers for payment, a procedure approved by the comptroller.

*Heard from Councilperson Mettler that the town’s website is finally back in business after being infected with malware since Labor Day. Visit the website

To contact Diane Valden email

EDITOR’S NOTE: Chris Quinby is a regular contributor of photographs to this newspaper.

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