I'm curious to know what people's experiences were on Saturday night, from the perspective of spectators, shoppers and business owners.
We intended to do some shopping, but the sidewalks were so packed in front of business entrances, we actually skipped that part. This wasn't just people walking around, it was parade goers setting up their chairs directly in front of businesses and settling in for the duration. For business on the north side of Central, this made them pretty inaccessible, especially for families with strollers, etc. We also planned on eating out as we have for past Shop & Strolls, but we ended up heading home for dinner instead, again because of the crowds. The parking situation seemed dramatically bad and I imagine folks living in the immediate vicinity were pretty unhappy about it.
The parade was very twinkly and full of cute and crazy alike. I particularly liked the disco dancing Darth Vader on a sand barge. And the tiny ponies (tiny ponies!!) are always a favorite. I admit the horns and other parade noises were more enjoyable for not bouncing around in the canyon-like walls of downtown Central Ave, where they can sometimes be overwhelming, though I suppose that's part of the parade experience too.
From our point of view, combining these two events was not a real success. We missed the annual evening in downtown Abq full of people enjoying themselves without being intoxicated bar patrons. I think Twinkle Light is one of the few events that reliably gets families out and about in downtown. And we didn't actually participate in the shopping part of the event because the crowds and atmosphere in the late afternoon and evening weren't conducive to that. We'll still do our holiday shopping at local businesses, but it'll happen next weekend instead. I personally hope the city reconsiders the location of the parade next year and returns it to downtown.
Not only are the seductively warm temperatures a sign of environmental problems, but let's please remember that weather is not made to order. The weather was lovely this year, but not because the Stroll was changed to a saturday or because of the addition of the parade. Next year could be just as horrible as 2011 when low temps and high winds kept all but the most intrepid home.
And what is the carbon footprint of the Twinkle Light Parade?