Smaller crowds give thumbs down to final weekend of Glendale Glitters

By: 
DARRELL JACKSON, Glendale Star Staff Writer

Photo by Darrell Jackson

Fewer people were present during the final weekend of Glendale Glitters Dec. 15 in Murphy Park as crowds voiced their displeasure with the changes.
 

As Glendale Glitters celebrated its 25th Anniversary with the final weekend, crowds questioned the future of the city-sponsored special events and if they should continue or if the city should end having any special events.
“I have come to this every year for about nine years and the only question I have is, what is the point of this year’s event?” Peoria resident Joanne Wilson said. “Where are all the vendors, food and people this year and why does it not feel like the holidays?”
Two years after the city made major changes with fewer tents and merchants in Murphy Park, citizens asked why the event continued.
“There were obvious changes and improvements to the area; yes there were a lot less tents and vendors in the main part of the event, but there was absolutely no feeling this year,” said Glendale resident Juan Gomez, who was attending with his two grandchildren. “But, it doesn’t have any feeling and the kids have said it is just not fun.”
After two years of work trying to ensure the success of the downtown area with a major plan for changing the economic vision for the area, which included the possible elimination of the city’s major holiday events, City Manager Kevin Phelps announced Nov. 2 his recommendations.
The event, which used to be every weekend from Thanksgiving until the first of the year, was reduced to two weekends this year after merchants questioned the city possibly ending the event entirely.
“We will continue to propose funding for the events, but we will not be increasing our funding level,” Phelps said in November. “We will not make any changes and we expect the 2019-20 events season to look the same as the 2018-19 season.”
Citizens were nearly unanimous when discussing the events while walking around Dec. 15.
“I have been coming for years, and this was just a waste of my family’s time, honestly,” Glendale’s Robert Gomez said with his wife and two children looking at the 1.5 million lights.
Approximately 15 to 20 vendors were intertwined with bounce houses and five or six food vendors while the local businesses appeared to have fewer people inside during the event.
“We have been here about 15 minutes and my kids are already saying they want to leave,” Gomez said. “It is kind of depressing to bring my family here and they don’t even want to stay.”
City staff estimated the opening weekend of Nov. 24-25 attendance was approximately 77,000 after reporting last year’s four weekends had an estimated 250,000 people, but many wondered who they counted.
“I came opening weekend and if they say that many people were here, maybe they were counting everyone within a five-mile radius because it wasn’t crowded to me,” Peoria resident William Bowers said Dec. 15. “I am not sure what they counted because that first weekend, there was not that many more people than are here right now.”
Phelps has stated that the events cost the city over a million dollars but get little in return and he had hoped to change that, but announced he would keep the events budget the same for 2019.
“The city budgets approximately $1 million per year to support the downtown area,” Phelps said in November. “This includes the special events, such as Glendale Glitters, Glitter and Glow and the Chocolate Affaire, as well as the downtown manager and increased security and street sweeping.”
In return for the money spent downtown, the city collects an estimated annual gross sales tax of $403,000, which is 0.003 percent of the total collected by the city. Nearly $60,000 of the $403,000 comes during special events.
In comparison, the city invested $10,000 in the Westgate Entertainment District, which was for the fireworks during the Fourth of July event, and spent nothing at Arrowhead Towne Center.
In return, Arrowhead Towne Center contributed 13 percent of the city’s total annual sales tax and Westgate contributed 10 percent.
As the closing night of the 25th Anniversary of Glendale Glitters wound down, citizens wondered what the future of the events would become after the lackluster event ended for 2019.
“I just don’t know what the point of this was this year,” Glendale resident Geneva Juarez said. “This is supposed to put people in the Christmas spirit but tonight had absolutely no feeling. My children actually said tonight made them feel a little less happy about the holidays and I am not sure I will return if it is staying this way. Maybe Glitters should end with this 25th year because it was just not fun.”
The lone voice in favor of the events continuing was even less enthusiastic about the events.
“The lights were nice and bright, but I can see better lights on homes in my neighborhood,” said Surprise resident Jill Williams, who brought her three children. “We love the lights, but they are just lights and are not anything special, so we probably will not return next year.”

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