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Dimmer Christmas this year without Holiday Light Festival

December 14, 2010 | 12:27 pm

Holidaylights Christmas won't be as bright this year without the annual Holiday Light Festival in Griffith Park.

The DWP has mounted a display of holiday lights for 14 years along a one-mile segment of Crystal Springs Drive in Griffith Park, attracting more than half-a-million visitors each year.

But the L.A. Department of Water and Power announced in July that the annual November-December event would be canceled because a major water pipeline project would be underway.

Much of the construction is taking place on Crystal Springs Drive, and temporarily halting the work would jeopardize the targeted completion date of November 2011, DWP officials said.

The agency is building a water line that will connect the North Hollywood Pump Station with the Ivanhoe Reservoir in Silver Lake, requiring 11,200 feet of new steel pipe to be installed in Griffith Park.

“Due to the cost and amount of time needed to halt a major construction project … it is in the public’s best interest to cancel this year’s event,” DWP officials said in a statement.

Aging pipes, low water-pressure problems and the need to comply with federally mandated water-quality regulations prompted the water project, according to the statement.

Other sites were scouted as a temporary home for the light festival, but none met its power and space requirements, said Kim Hughes, a department spokeswoman.

“There are limitations on infrastructure,” she said. “You need power to support all those displays, which is over a mile in length. You also have to worry about egress and ingress to and from the site.”

To help keep the holiday tradition alive, a few displays have been installed next to the William Mulholland Memorial Fountain near Crystal Springs Boulevard, including a large tree, a fire truck and assorted reindeer, Hughes said. And although the pipeline project is scheduled to be finished by next November, he said, there is a chance next year’s festival also will be canceled.

“You never know what you are going to find underground,” she said. “It is our hope to have everything completed on schedule. But the water project is key to the infrastructure of this city.”

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-- Shan Li

Photo: A display from the 2009 Holiday Light Festival. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times.

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