NTCC, State Park Capitalize on Human Misery for $
By James Hufnagel
As Americans, we endure more than our fair share of empty gesture and cheap sentimentality from the corporate media. Hollywood and Madison Avenue subject us to an endless stream of blather from corporations and others who presume to counsel us on how to improve our lives and be better people.
For example, the largest brewer in the world exhorts us to "Drink Responsibly" (of course, that's why they introduced the "wide mouth" can some years ago, so that beer drinkers can guzzle more responsibly).
Pressing emotional buttons, holding up a mirror to commonplace situations like returning a lost purse to an old lady and then refusing a reward, interrupting daily chores to help a child with homework or how we risk their future if we don't keep them cozy and warm with fracked gas, all maudlin attempts to make us feel good about ourselves and drive behaviors. These cynical appeals to our nobler instincts, besides boosting sales, confer an added bonus of goodwill to the corporate entity.
Locally, the silliness has been taken to an extreme by the Canadian Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) with the cooperation of our own Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. (NTCC).
At seemingly random times on different dates, the NPC lights up the Falls with variously colored spotlights, supposedly to "raise awareness" of one or another disease condition, and the NTCC publicizes the light shows on this side of the border.
A schedule of "Niagara Falls illuminations" offering "special colour illumination" on the web site of the NPC lists a dozen or so diseases over the past year which have made the cut. These have included, with corresponding colour bathing the falls, heart disease (red), lupus (red and white), autism (blue), lymphoma (red), pancreatic cancer (purple), breast cancer (pink), ovarian cancer (teal), lyme disease (green), melanoma (just melanoma, not squamous cell or other skin cancers, orange), schizophrenia (purple) and multiple sclerosis (orange).
Apparently, a high-level executive decision made at the upper echelons of the Parks Commission resulted in a change at some point over the past year. Last year the chosen colour for multiple sclerosis wasn't orange, it was red.
The whole extravaganza of floodlights on the falls seems to be somewhat limited by the paucity of colours available. Red must do triple-duty for heart attack, lymphoma and lupus, MS and melanoma share orange, and purple serves to make the world "aware" of the ravages of both schizophrenia and pancreatic cancer.
One evening last summer, the NTCC announced on its Facebook page that the falls were to be lit blue and red to honor something called HHT.
How the addition of heart disease (red) and autism (blue) results in a rare disorder like HHT (red and blue), and how HHT qualified for a display at the falls in the first place, given that the compendiums of the National Institutes of Health list literally tens of thousands of diseases more common than HHT, is a mystery.
With not a little incredulity, I inquired, "What is HHT?"
"Hi Jim!" greeted NTCC, "HHT is a rare genetic disorder that leads to abnormal blood vessel formation in the skin and organs." (Disclaimer: the Reporter does not recommend obtaining medical advice from tourism bureaus. If you have questions, consult your doctor or other medical professional).
On July 22, the NTCC broke the joyful news: "We're seeing blue! Congrats to Kate Middleton, who gave birth to a little Prince! The falls will be illuminated blue to commemorate this exciting occasion!"
Notwithstanding the fact there are certain elements of society that regard pregnancy and childbirth to be an affliction, there is also the implication here that the royal family may itself, in fact, be a disease.
It's beyond the scope of this article, but suffice to say that when searchlights were installed to overwhelm the natural beauty of the falls decades ago, there was a sizable backlash from advocates of the Olmsted plan, who called for natural surroundings and respect for God's handiwork without gaudy, contrived, man-made displays such as colored lights and whatnot.
Of course, Olmsted went out the door as the parking lots, trolleys, tulip beds, statuary, Delaware North food stands, coin-operated binoculars and Maid ticket booths came in. Eight million tourists visit Niagara Falls State Park every year, where they park, dine, sightsee, purchase souvenirs and then leave on a dedicated parkway without spending a dime in the city of Niagara Falls, which suffers one of the highest rates of per capita poverty in the entire northeastern United States.
If you visit the web sites of the foundations that lead the battle on the featured diseases, you'll find little mention of the Niagara Falls illuminations, which appear to be events solely conceived and implemented by the NPC and promoted by the NTCC.
Any who suffer from one of these maladies, or have loved ones that do, should not take offense here. This writer happens to be one of those, as are most people. No, our disapproval is reserved for the exploitative bureaucracies who feign concern by means of these gratuitous observances in order to promote their business interests.
|Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr.||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||
Mar 11, 2014