Peppermint Pops cancelled - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Peppermint Pops cancelled

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November 17, 2003

Albany-- A Christmas favorite is cancelled. "Peppermint Pops" is an Albany tradition--but down economic times are being blamed for taking the "Ho, Ho, Ho" out of this holiday concert. But, the event means more than just music for many families.

For the past 11 years, "Peppermint Pops" has brought Christmas cheer to Southwest Georgia families-- but not this year. Albany Symphony Association President Diane Cunningham says, "We had to made a tough business decision. You know when you buy a gift for a community it costs money to buy that gift."

It's a big gift-- the event costs 25,000 to put on. And many corporate sponsors, like Bobs Candies, just can't foot the bill. WALB broadcasts the event each year. Station Manager Jim Wilcox says Peppermint Pops is more than just a free concert, "I know the Peppermint Pops took hold after the flood of 1994. That Christmas was really a time to come together. I think it is still the largest gathering of black and white families of the year and a lot of that had to do with the flood of 1994."

Besides fellowship and good music, Peppermint Pops provides something else-- a meal for needy families. "Last year we got more than a ton of food. That's a lot of meals, some 1,500 meals that won't be there this year," says Eddie Byrd, Executive Director of the Southwest Georgia Food Bank.

A ticket into the concert is a can of food. The Southwest Georgia Food Bank is already suffering from a substantial drop in donations, "It's a terrible rip tide. On the one hand the food and cash donations are down but because it is a weak economy the demand is up. So we have fewer resources but more people in need and it creates an untenable situation for us."

A situation that just got worse with Monday's announcement of the concert's cancellation-- but organizers say the show will go on next year. The Albany Symphony Association, which runs "Peppermint Pops", says they have about half of the money needed for next years concert already. As for the Food Bank, WALB plans to redouble their holiday food drive efforts to help make up for the loss.

Posted at 3:43 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com