Holiday lights add festive glow to Bronx shopping strips

Holiday lights welcoming people to Westchester Square were placed at three strategic locations to complement the Westchester Square Business Improvement District’s LED holiday lights in its central business blocks.
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

Borough merchant groups and business improvements districts are making the holiday season bright – literally.

From Throggs Neck to Gun Hill Road and Morris Park to Allerton Avenue, business owners in a variety of Bronx communities have purchased holiday light displays for the streets outside of their stores.

Many of the leaders behind the light displays said generally speaking their goals were to increase foot traffic and to give the community a sense of holiday spirit.

Bob Jaen, Throggs Neck Merchants Association president, said that the association placed 67 strands of lights on East Tremont Avenue from Dudley to Miles avenues.

“We have the longest span of Christmas lights in any of the five boroughs,” said Jaen.

As it is every year, collecting from the merchants can be somewhat of a challenge, with a variety of methods – invoices, messages and personal visits – used to raise the needed funds.

“In most instances, most of the merchants will donate,” said Jaen, adding that he often asks for a minimum of $125 per merchant since the TNMA pays about $24,000 per year for the lights.

It is Jaen’s hope that by next year’s holiday season, the Throggs Neck Business Improvement District will be in place and the fundraising efforts would be a lot simpler.

BIDs throughout the city budget for promotions like holiday lights, and in the case of Throggs Neck, the size of the job will necessitate competitive bidding, said Jaen.

In Westchester Square, Lisa Sorin, executive director of the area’s BID, lighting included three ‘Welcome to the Square’ signs at two locations on East Tremont Avenue and on Williamsbridge Road, as well as lighting in the heart of the district.

In total, 14 strands of LED lights decorate the Square, said Sorin, adding that planning for the lights happens a year in advance and the lights are in place just after Thanksgiving.

“We went with LED lights now,” said Sorin.

The change came a couple of years back and she thinks LED lights are brighter and more modern.

“I think they are very elegant…the red and white look very distinctive,” said Sorin, adding “We love our lights.”

The Morris Park Community Association spearheads Morris Park’s yearly street light efforts.

Al D’Angelo, MPCA president said that they are still in the process of collecting funds for the lights, and he hopes that next year the Morris Park BID will take over the project.

The lights start at East 180th Street and follow Morris Park Avenue to Williamsbridge Road, where they then continue to Pelham Parkway along Williamsbridge Road, said D’Angelo.

About two or three strands are placed on each block, he said.

Joe Thompson, White Plains Road Business Improvement District executive director, said the BID placed eight strands under the train el and placed another six on poles where the train el declines in elevation.

He praised the efforts of the Allerton International Merchants Association, which placed their own lighting display in their shopping district this year.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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