LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The bill from Light Up Louisville is in and it was an expensive affair. Sponsors spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the city's holiday celebration.
But the event was marred by mixed reviews and now one of the main corporate sponsors says Louisville could have had a much stronger event, with better planning.
Mayor Greg Fischer is staying positive saying the city and its sponsors got their money's worth out of Light Up Louisville.
"We wanted to make Light Up Louisville into a new experience for the community and make it into a new tradition," he said in an interview.
But it was certainly a costly experiment. City records reveal the revamped Light Up Louisville cost $261,827. All of it was donated by corporate sponsors including $50,000 from the Galt House. Spokesperson Rita Reedy said the revamped Light Up Louisville was "a good start" in growing the city's annual holiday celebration. But Reedy also said the event was plagued by a lack of planning.
"I think the biggest mistake was the planning started late," Reedy said. "The planning should have started much sooner."
The quarter of a million dollars spent on Light Up Louisville went to relocating the city's traditional holiday celebration to Fourth Street Live! with a nightly light show and replica plastic skating rink that was supposed to bring business to the restaurants bars and hotels in that area.
But other than opening night when thousands came downtown to see the city flip the switch, businesses say they saw very little increase in sales.
Meanwhile, the man behind the event, Louisville Metro's Special Events Director, Joseph MacDonald, resigned December 31. MacDonald gave up his $70,000 a year appointed position just six months after he was hired and before Light Up Louisville's "40 Night of Lights" was even over.
Mayor Fischer said MacDonald's resignation was unrelated to the mixed reviews to Light Up Louisville.
"The guy came in to do a job, he helped us organize, now he went back to what he was doing before," Fischer said. "So there's really not much more to it than that."
The city has yet to begin the process of hiring a new special events director planning to post the job "in the next week or two" according to city spokesman Chris Poynter.
Poynter said the city will keep Light Up Louisville in its new location next year but is planning changes.
Reedy said the Galt House experienced growing pains with its own holiday celebration but ironed those issues out in subsequent years. Reedy said she expects the Galt House to remain a corporate sponsor at next years Light Up Louisville.
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