ONE of the toughest decisions that can confront organizers of a major event is the question of going ahead with or canceling the event in the face of threatening weather.
Organizers of the annual Festival of Lights parade, which was scheduled to step out on the evening of Dec. 7, were faced with that kind of no-win situation in a major snowstorm that earlier had forced school officials to cancel classes and road crews to mount herculean efforts to keep streets and roads open.
They made the right call, electing to cancel the event, which in the past had drawn thousands to the downtown area for what has become a holiday tradition. The cancellation of the parade was paired with the scrubbing of plans for the QMIX Musical Fireworks that normally would have begun upon the conclusion of the parade.
While there were doubtless many disappointed residents who had anticipated the annual event, the reality was that conditions would have made for an uncomfortable night for many, even dangerous for some.
The danger existed not only because of the plunging temperatures but in the number of residents who would have come to the downtown area in vehicles during dangerous road conditions. No parade or fireworks extravaganza is worth a tragedy that could result from such conditions.
For many of the estimated crowd of 1,000 — principally children — who took advantage of the opportunity to tour the city’s first-ever downtown Christmas Village in The Commons, the evening was not a total downer.
In fact, response to the free, four-hour event, which featured set-ups and demonstrations by members of the Columbus Area Railroad Club as well as games and treats, was so great that Mayor Kristen Brown committed to bringing it back next year.
By providing an added indoor element such as the Christmas Village to the Festival of Lights events, organizers were able to salvage a good share of the enjoyment that would have otherwise been lost.
But it’s more important to note that the decision made to cancel the parade and fireworks display was the right one.