Kill the lights! Festival of Light turned off as hordes choke Dumbo streets

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The lights went out early in Dumbo.

Organizers ended the New York Festival of Light ahead of schedule on Nov. 8 as crowds choked the Manhattan Bridge archway where nearly all of the show’s art was concentrated. The crowds on the last two nights of the three-night exhibition far exceeded organizers’ expectations, a rep for the festival said.

“In our wildest imagination we had no idea it would pull in so many people,” spokeswoman Linda Miller said. “It was our decision to close down. Something had to be done before someone got hurt.”

Would-be light-gazers slammed event management online, saying poor planning forced the crowd into an obviously ill-suited bottleneck — the archway, where most sculptures and projections were located — and that staffers gave confusing directions. Several social media users also noted that police closed the York Street F station to quell the crowding. The result, many agreed, was a total debacle.

“No organization, no direction, chaos of people trying to figure out where to go,” Christina Kirsch wrote on Facebook. “So let down when it was closed just when we finally figured out where we were.”

A police spokesman said the York station, which only has one two-way platform, filled to capacity and officers implemented “crowd control measures.” He declined to elaborate, but denied that they closed the station. He did confirm that there were a ton of people packed into the area, and said that the premature end of the event made matters temporarily worse.

“When the organizers shut the event down everyone flooded into York Street,” he said. “There was overcrowding everywhere.”

The exhibit opened on Nov. 6 with moderate attendance, but the head-count dramatically increased during the weekend. On Nov. 8, with an inkling of what kind of crowds were to come, Miller said organizers did their best to prepare for another swarm, including staggering admission to the archway.

But the measure was not enough to calm the chaos.

Miller said organizers were disappointed about having to close early, but she argued the huge numbers were a testament to the event’s appeal.

“What can I say? It was just too popular,” she said. “If we had any indication that we would be getting the amounts of people we did, then maybe there would have been measures taken. But this was really a testament to how much people appreciate light and wanted to have a festival of lights in New York.”

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Information from a police spokesman added.
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Reasonable discourse

smoothjazz from $uburb says:
Nov. 10, 2014, 4:14 pm
ty from pps says:
That picture looks a lot better than the event actually was, well, just sorta lame. The animation on the side of the bridge was pretty great, but everything under the bridge was, well, just... meh.

Probably could have just stuck with the projections on the bridge as a cool art installation for a week or two. Saved a lot of money and hassle.
Nov. 10, 2014, 7:25 pm
Harriet says:
Isn't the festival of lights Hannukah? Is this related to the Jewish holliday? Or just taking the name of it?
Nov. 11, 2014, 5:44 am
ty from pps says:
Nothing related to Hanukkah. Just an art installation type thing... well, a series of installations.
Nov. 11, 2014, 10:06 am
scott from park slope says:
harriet, hindus have a greater claim to that appellation, "Festival of Lights," (Diwali), as hinduism has a billion adherents and is an older religion. But they probably won't mind if Jews and others use that name, too, since they're pretty tolerant of others.
Nov. 13, 2014, 4:41 pm

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