The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

22 December 2007

Darkness looms

Chickasha's Festival of Lights draws lots of visitors — 300,000 a year — but there's a chance that this year could be the last:

"[The festival] is in a very delicate state right now and could easily be lost next year due to the adversity we have faced this year," said spokesperson Kristi Davis: "The embezzlement, the losses and added expenses due to the flood, and now the loss of approximately 500,000 to 1 million lights."

The defalcation was engineered by former Festival treasurer Angie Jeffries, who apparently had diverted about $18,000; she entered a guilty plea in September.

Most of Oklahoma got too much rain this year, and Chickasha was no exception: extensive flooding damaged equipment used for the Festival, and a lot of what was left was finished off by the recent ice storm.

Kristi Davis says that they'll try to raise money from the community, and that they'd prefer to do that than to take on corporate sponsors:

"If we aren't able to get ample funding through that method, we'll go to a corporate sponsor," Davis said, "although we want to keep it Chickasha's Festival of Light rather than 'Big Corporation's' Festival of Light in Chickasha."

Meanwhile in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the Lights of the Ozarks could be in jeopardy. Says the Northwest Arkansas Times:

Fayetteville's budget crunch has once again raised the question of whether the Lights of the Ozarks will continue.

This is not the first time that city officials have talked of ending the program, but it is the first time the proposed budget hasn't included funding for the program, which started in the early 1990s. The $29,000 line item has been eliminated from the city's Capital Improvement Program for 2008 as a means of balancing the budget.

I admit to not attending either of these displays this year. Perhaps I should have — especially if it won't be an option in the future.

Posted at 9:31 AM to Soonerland