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Lights on the River raises record funds for food pantries despite bad weather

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LISBON — Despite uncooperative weather, this year’s Lights on the River event raised $18,000 for local food pantries.

President Scott A. Wilhelm said the fundraising this year was boosted in large part by local businesses and community organizations that gave substantial sums of money.

Seven groups gave more than $1,000 to the event: United Way/Cargill; Ogdensburg Kiwanis Club; Cultivating Healthy Communities; the New York State Corrections Officers and Police Benevolent Association; Off the Hook Bed and Breakfast, Ogdensburg; the Ogdensburg Elks Club; and TML Graphic and Sign Company, Ogdensburg.

“We did better than we thought,” Mr. Wilhelm said. “The weather was pretty rough.”

Close to 85 lighted exhibits were set up by families, businesses and community organizations at Lisbon Beach and Campground for the event this year, Mr. Wilhelm said, surpassing last year’s 75-exhibit display.

Money was given out on Saturday to the following food pantries: Canton Church and Community, Canton Neighborhood Center, Hammond Neighborhood Center, Heuvelton Food Pantry, Lisbon Food Pantry, Norwood-Norfolk-Raymondville Outreach, Ogdensburg Neighborhood Center, Family and Resource Center, Gouverneur Neighborhood Center and Massena Neighborhood Center.

But the weather, including the ice storm that hit the entire north country and lasted from Dec. 20 to 22, didn’t help things.

Despite raising more money than the $15,000 raised last year, Lights on the River saw less traffic than years past.

In 2012 more than 12,000 vehicles drove through the display. Only 7,000 visited this year.

Mr. Wilhelm said the decrease in traffic also lead to a reduction in the amount of food they were able to gather for the food pantries – 2,700 pounds this year compared with 3,700 pounds last year.

“With the weather it definitely reduced the days we were able to be open,” he said.

The recent ice storm forced Lights on the River to be closed its final weekend, when traffic was expected to be heaviest, he said.

This is the fourth year the fundraiser has been held.

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