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What's (thankfully) missing this holiday season?

By Frank Parlato

While the shanties were ugly, uninviting and depressing, the good news is that we won't be having a Holiday Market this year.
Mark Rivers will not be at our home for the holidays this year.
The Holiday Market reminds one of the old song "It's only a Shanty in Old Shanty Town." The difference being that taxpayers foot the bill.
Mark Rivers made this computer drawn sketch (before he got taxpayers’ $500,000) to show how the Holiday Market was going to look. Compare this with the genuine pictures of the Market he actually developed.

Something is lacking this holiday season in Niagara Falls.

But the void has not been much felt.

Missing is the undersized-skating rink; the midget 15-foot Christmas tree, the tents that made our town look like Occupy Niagara and the barn-red shacks that reminded us all that when Jesus was born in a manger, it probably did not look worse than these.

That’s right, you guessed it. We aren't having the taxpayer-funded Holiday Market this season.

Last year, a silver-throated, gold-pocketing Idaho promoter by the name of Mark Rivers came to town and persuaded our gullible city leaders to cough up $481,000 to provide the shacks, the less-than-adequate Christmas accoutrements and the blarney provided in abundance by Mr. Rivers to help him help himself to all the Christmas cookies he cared to eat and he called it "the Holiday Market."

Of course it was a dismal flop.

The public lost every dollar it invested, unless you count possessing 22 eyesore shacks lying around all over town giving the lingering impression of old shanty town as not a loss.

The Holiday Market was wasteful, fruitless, foolish; an experiment that proved once again that government should only provide essential services and stay the hell out of business.

What overburdened taxpayers spent almost $500,000 to put on (with Rivers pocketing an unknown percentage of that money), could have been done in the private sector for $100,000 or less – if the demand was there.

Which it was not.

The proof is in the figgy pudding.

If the Holiday Market was as successful as various media reports say it was (from outlets by the way that did accept taxpayer-funded advertising dollars from the developer of the Holiday Market), then why aren't any of the vendors of last year organizing this year?

If the so-called 250,000 people that Rivers promised really did attend, then why aren't some of these customers clamoring for another experience of it?

Maybe that’s because there weren't 250,000. There were perhaps 25,000 people who attended the shabby Market over its 37 inglorious days.

Frankly, Rivers Christmas-goosed us out of a half million dollars.

We never checked him out before and we never did a serious audit after he left.

He stuffed his Christmas stockings to the brim and left us (figuratively speaking) a giant yuletide log to remember him by.

The Niagara Falls Reporter was the only publication that dared criticize the Holiday Market before, during and after the show.

And Rivers, in fairness, had this to say about the Reporter when we contacted him on his cell phone:
“All you've done is assassinate me for a year and all you do is trash me every chance you get,” he said.

But Mark Rivers broke every promise he made to this city, including his promise to have 80 vendors (he had 20 not counting the phony ten booths he operated himself). His promise of a Rockefeller-sized Christmas tree turned out to be a dwarf pine. The largest skating rink (as promised when he was seeking our $500,000) was so small that only a couple of dozen skaters ever skated on it.

Now the new holiday season is upon us and while we are filled with holiday cheer, we wait and nobody, not one, has said “All I want for Christmas is my taxpayer-funded Holiday Market.”

And we’d like to remind the reader that the Reporter was the publication that wrote about it – time and time again. It was like telling children (in government) that there is no Santa Claus. It is a tough task – for hearts may be broken - but someone – some adult- had to do it.

And, yes, Niagara, there is no Holiday Market for Christmas this year.




Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Dec 04 , 2012