Santa Claus not coming to Heights Plaza this year |

Santa Claus not coming to Heights Plaza this year

Brian C. Rittmeyer

A long-running holiday event that included a parade and visit from Santa will not be held Friday at the Heights Plaza Shopping Center.

The plaza’s New Jersey-based management company told Highlands School District officials, including the high school office and band director, that the parade has been canceled, district spokeswoman Misty Chybrzynski said Wednesday.

Calls and an e-mail to the company — Indigo Management, in Far Hills, N.J. — were not returned.

Some plaza business owners and township officials were unclear about the status of the parade. Police said they were “in the dark” about it and nobody had contacted Chief Mike Klein.

Those suspecting the event was not happening were nearly desperate for information to that effect to prevent disappointed families from turning out for a nonexistent event.

No Christmas decorations were present Wednesday in the shopping center, which has suffered from the departure of many businesses, most notably Macy’s.

“It is sad,” said Marlene Lukasik, co-owner of Drums N More Music Store with her son, John Lukasik. “We have no decorations up. The plaza used to always be decorated. I’d like to see it come back.”

The parade was held as recently as last year, organized by Balleymoney Real Estate Services, located in downtown Pittsburgh. It had organized the event since 1987, said Lori Moran, Balleymoney’s vice president of real estate.

Last year’s event welcoming in the holiday season included a parade, arrival of Santa, featured military vehicles, the high school’s marching band, antique cars, police and fire trucks. Toy donations to programs benefiting needy children were accepted through the Tree of Hope and Toys for Tots.

Balleymoney stopped managing the plaza in December 2009, after last year’s event.

Moran said she had heard the parade had been canceled but couldn’t confirm it.

“I was very sad when I heard,” she said. “It’s a terrific community and a terrific event.”

The parade had been held at the plaza for so long that it pretty much fell together on its own, Moran said.

“It’s just a huge community event. Everyone knows what to do. It’s not a lot of work,” she said. “Everyone shows up and chips in.”

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