Jen Fifield, Arizona Republic Published 6:00 a.m. MT Nov. 21, 2018 | Updated 2:32 p.m. MT Nov. 21, 2018
More than a million lights will illuminate downtown Glendale this weekend as Glendale Glitters begins.
Thousands will converge on the city's streets and sidewalks near 58th and Glendale avenues looking to get in the holiday spirit. There will be music, dancing and fireworks.
But underneath the glow of the festive lights, not everyone will be feeling cordial.
Downtown merchants are in a bit of a war now — with city officials, and with one another.
The conflict is rooted in the challenges that downtown faces — challenges that the celebration will only do so much to mask. Many storefronts are empty, some businesses are struggling and everyone knows that without a big affair, crowds are unlikely to come.
The problem isn't unique to Glendale. Many shopping malls and downtowns across the state are struggling as more people shop online, although some malls are finding a way to adapt.
CHANGE VS. TRADITIONS LIKE GLENDALE GLITTERS
The crux in Glendale is whether to take big risks to spark change.
City Manager Kevin Phelps is proposing bold ideas meant to bring more people and business downtown year-round. But his ideas tug on the city's historical heartstrings.
As Glitters celebrates its 25th season, he proposes ending the festival, which would give the city money to host smaller events downtown throughout the year. He also wants to move Velma Teague Branch Library out of Murphy Park and put destination restaurants in that key spot.
Many merchants, including some who are newer to the area, are on board. They say downtown needs to come to life.
Others, though, believe Phelps' ideas strip downtown Glendale of charm and tradition, which is what they say pulls people in. They also say they don't know what they would do without the money they make during holiday weekends, which they tuck away to help get through the slower summer months.