"This trend of skimping on civic cheer comes as a blow to many families. Their holidays at home will be more modest this year. Office parties will also be subdued. Now they can't even count on cherished holiday traditions in the town square.
Scott Swank, director of the Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich, Mass., hates to dwell on the loss; it feels a bit frivolous to mourn a festival when so many people are losing homes and jobs and life savings.
Still, it hurt him to have to call off the museum's annual Spectacle of Lights for lack of funding. Last year, 16,000 visitors came to wander a woodland path shimmering with lights and ringing with music. But the state, strapped for cash, cut arts grants this year and Mr. Swank couldn't find sponsors willing to shoulder the $140,000 cost.
'We're totally heartbroken,' he said. The economic crisis makes for 'a sorry picture all around," he said, 'but it's especially sad when it comes to Christmas.'"