A local business leader is apologizing after his comments during a parade and tree lighting ceremony ruffled some feathers.

Lou Strippoli was the speaker at Dongan Park in the City of Poughkeepsie during the annual Celebration of Lights festival on December 6. The event brings together families and businesses from the City of Poughkeepsie for an elaborate parade, tree lighting and fireworks display over the Hudson River.

This year Strippoli was on the microphone at Dongan Park when he decided to go a little off-script. Some in attendance say that they took offense when he began joking about "crackheads" living in the city. The comments were allegedly aimed at paradegoers promoting the preservation of Wheaton Park. There is a movement by some community members to stop the private development of the park and preserve it for public use.

Parade attendees had mixed reactions to the comments. Some dismissed them as a failed attempt at humor, while others grew angry over the tone of the commentary and the fact that they were heard by many of the young children who were lined up to see the parade and fireworks.

Strippoli, who owns Caffe Aurora near Wheaton Park, did not reply to a request from us to comment on the incident, but he did post an apology on his business' Facebook page on Tuesday evening. In the apology, Strippoli took full responsibility for the remarks and apologized to anyone who was offended.

My name is Lou Strippoli. I was the speaker at Dongan Park for the Celebration of Lights parade. I truly apologize for offending anyone with my comments. I assume full responsibility for them. They were meant to be humorous and not offensive. The Poughkeepsie River District, The Bardavon and The City of Poughkeepsie First Friday had nothing to do with, nor had any knowledge of the comments, that I made. Once again, I personally apologize and take full responsibility for my comments!

The apology has been greeted with positivity by people on the Caffe Aurora page and Poughkeepsie's First Friday page, where the apology was also shared.

Kharren Thompson wrote, "Everyone deserves forgiveness as long as they're sincere with their apologies." Another Facebook user, Hannah Long, was thankful for the apology saying she "greatly appreciate(s) anyone who is able to reflect on their words and take action to acknowledge and apologize."

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