Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Life U's holiday lights twinkle off |

Life U's holiday lights twinkle off |

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 11/05/04

It's lights out for Life University's elaborate holiday display.

The nationally known chiropractic college in Marietta is loaning its collection of 2 million bulbs to Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park and the Georgia World Congress Center, so school leaders can focus on improving the institution's finances and enrollment.

'It's unfortunate,' Bill Jarr, vice president of operations and finances, said of the loss of the giant light display.

Katy Pando, spokeswoman for the Georgia World Congress Center, said she hopes the thousands of metro Atlantans who regularly visited the display at Life University will come downtown.

'We're thrilled,' she said. 'This will be a great complement to our holiday season.'

Some of the more elaborate features, such as a giant candy cane factory and a 65-foot Santa Claus, may not be part of the downtown display this year, Pando said.

The university, which lost accreditation of its chiropractic program in 2002, kept the lights on for the last two years with help from corporate sponsors and fund-raisers. Visitors by the carload donated money to defray some of the reported $350,000 in operating expenses for the holiday exhibit.
At its peak, the display attracted as many as 750,000 visitors each season, causing massive traffic jams on nearby roads and I-75.

'Lights of Life' was regarded by many as over-the-top, in keeping with the school's flamboyant founder, Sid Williams, who was forced to retire in 2002.

The tradition started in the late 1980s when Life employees spread Christmas cheer by putting out plastic snowmen and holiday scenes cut out of plywood. The display ballooned into a major operation with several year-round employees and dozens more added during the holidays.

School officials were coy about the cost of the event, which was free of charge to visitors who lined up for hours in their cars to slowly drive through the lights.

Lea Stone, an East Cobb resident and native Atlantan, said the attraction was a family tradition for many in the area. 'I used to take my kids,' she said.

Still, light displays at places such as Lake Lanier Islands should be able to fill the void, she said. She joked that she would be more upset if Marietta's famous "Big Chicken" landmark were in jeopardy.

This year, Life University will put out some subdued holiday decorations, officials said. Once the nation's largest chiropractic college, the school now has 1,250 students and is working to regain accreditation.


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