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Morris Park: Donate to Xmas lights...or lights out

Bronx Times

You’ll know who’s been naughty or nice when it comes to this year’s annual Morris Park Christmas lights display.

The Morris Park Community Association (MPCA), which is soliciting donations from merchants along the Morris Park Avenue strip for the lights is playing Good Santa/mean Mr. Scrooge.

Every merchant who donates $100 to the cause will receive a thank-you poster from the the non-profit group to place in their shop window.

For neighborhood Scrooges, it’ll be coal in their stocking.

“We’re going to ask people in the community to not go to the stores that don’t have one of these signs,” said Al D’Angelo, MPCA member who’s now taking collections from shopkeepers.

It’s not a bullying tactic, he insisted, but a lesson in fairness.

“We’re not strong-arming anyone,” said D’Angelo. “We just get annoyed if they don’t, only because they’re taking from the community. Time to give back.”

Lighting Up

The lighting company known as New York Christmas has already used a cherry-picker to erect the bright strands running just over a mile along on the avenue between Adams Street and Williamsbridge Road. Owner John Cappelli deferred the roughly $17,000 bill until after the holiday season since MPCA has been a customer in good standing. Costs include materials, labor, upkeep and utility fees.

“The sooner we get the money from the merchants, the better,” said MPCA President Tony Signorile.

The main challenge now is collecting monies. Signorile and MPCA members have since visited stores to persuade small business owners to chip in for the lights. Neighborhood banks and hospitals are also on the list of regular contributors. And while Walgreens Pharmacy has given, other big chains such as CVS and Rite Aid have scoffed at making a donation, said D’Angelo.

“They take from the people and give nothing back,” he said.

Pressure Mounts

But in getting the lights up without full payment, pressure is now put upon MPCA, which took over the collection duties from the Morris Park Business Alliance.

That group struggled to cobble funds for the lights two years back, leaving the neighborhood looking like Grinchland that season.

Some suggest the problem lies in the lack of a local city-sponsored Business Improvement District.

An established BID funded through special tax assessments would help alleviate the yearly Yuletide troubles since holiday lights are normally worked into the annual budget. Pelham Bay, Throggs Neck and Fordham Road prominently feature red, white and green lights during the holiday season.

Anyone interested in donating can make checks out to the Morris Park Community Association.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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CNG: Community Newspaper Group