Bankrupt Harrisburg, Pa. cancels Christmas

The Pennsylvania Capitol is seen Oct. 5, 2001, in Harrisburg, Pa.
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HARRISBURG, Pa. - Santa Claus isn't coming to town this year for Pennsylvania's financially struggling capital city — at least not to its annual holiday parade.

City officials have canceled the Nov. 19 event because organizers were not able to raise enough money. The parade needed about $25,000 in financial support, but donations have fallen far short, parks director Brenda Alton told The Patriot-News of Harrisburg.

"We had one letter of commitment and one verbal commitment," she told the newspaper.

The city's traditional fireworks on New Year's Eve are also at risk, with a final decision a week or two away.

Mayor Linda Thompson said she hopes the parade will return next year.

The Harrisburg City Council filed a rare bankruptcy petition a week ago, and this week the Legislature passed a new law that will give Gov. Tom Corbett power to assume financial decision-making authority for city government.

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"Policy was put in place a year ago to ensure that all special events are zero-tax-dollar events," Thompson said.

The parade was started in 1986 and has attracted an estimated 50,000 people to see a retinue of up to 150 floats, bands and other participants.

David Black, president of the Capital Regional Economic Development Corp., said bars and restaurants will lose business as a result of the cancellation.

"It's just a nice chance for people to come into the city, maybe have lunch," Black told The Patriot-News. "A little further erosion of conditions in the city."