POUGHKEEPSIE – A new attraction at Dongan Square Park on lower Mill Street has resulted in substantial speculation from neighbors in the area. Portions of a replica of the Vassar House float used in the previous “Festival of Lights” parade arrived at the park on Saturday, near the Christmas tree that gets illuminated at the end of the annual parade each December, causing residents to speculate on the park additions.
The float, owned by Andres San Milan, had been stored along with others, at a city-owned parking lot across from the Family Partnership Center on North Hamilton Street, according to Poughkeepsie City Administrator Marc Nelson. In an effort to preserve the floats, Nelson arranged for them to be relocated to Dongan Square Park in advance of the 2022 Festival of Lights.
According to Nelson, over the next three weeks, three additional former parade floats will be moved to the park, repaired, and repainted after being out in the weather all year. They are scheduled to be ready for this year’s event. The details of this year’s festival are forthcoming, according to Nelson.
The park is directly across from the recently-closed Noah’s Ark, owned by Mike Reed, who passed away recently. Reed, known by many as “Reeder,” was an instrumental member of the Poughkeepsie River District Association, which funds a substantial portion of the annual event, including the fireworks display.
In 2021 the festival returned after the pandemic began to recede, and Reed was enthusiastic. At the 2021 event Reed told Mid-Hudson News, “This city has suffered through a pandemic and this celebration brought people out for a great event. Given tonight’s turnout, I think we are rebounding, which is good news for the city and the business district members.”