Just when it looked like there might not be holiday lights in Morris Park this year, the community rallied together and got them installed.
The Morris Park Community Association reversed course on Thursday, December 1 after being encouraged to continue its fundraising drive for the holiday tradition, according to MPCA board members.
The MPCA had suspended its efforts the day before because merchants weren’t responding in sufficient numbers to cover the cost of the lights, said Tony Singorile, MPCA president.
Over the past two years, the community association has had to reach into its own coffers to cover shortfalls in the roughly $17,000 yearly effort, he said.
The MPCA got back into the holiday spirit after Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj implored them to continue the drive, and offered his own financial help.
“The fundraising for the lights is going to continue,” said Gjonaj. “We need business owners to come forward and participate in this; it is always the few who do the work of the many.”
The assemblyman said that he personally called New York Christmas, a lighting company in Hunts Point and explained that he, the community and other elected officials did not want Morris Park to be in the dark this holiday season.
“This is a huge win for the community,” said Gjonaj. “The children don’t know where the lights come from. They are just happy the lights are up again.”
After more donations came in, the MPCA was able to place a 50% deposit and the lights were installed on Morris Park Avenue and Williamsbridge Road by Sunday, December 4, said Signorile.
Senator Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Michael Benedetto joined Gjonaj in making substantial donations for the lights. Gjonaj held a press conference to announce the news on Monday, December 5.
Benedetto gave Gjonaj much of the credit for jumpstarting the drive after it looked like the lights might fall by the wayside.
“Let’s give credit where credit is due here,” said Benedetto of Gjonaj’s efforts, adding “This is a special season; we have lights in Westchester Square and Throggs Neck, so why not in Morris Park?”
Benedetto said that he hoped that the Morris Park Business Improvement District would be formed by next year so it would take over the lights, which is something that BIDs typically do in other commercial corridors.
The MPCA, comprised primarily of community residents, accepted the task of collecting the holiday lights money because there is no business association in Morris Park, said Signorile.
The MPCA has been in charge of the holiday lights effort for about 15 years, he said.
In addition to Gjonaj and Benedetto’s support, Klein was able to make a contribution to the light effort.
“I’m proud that my contribution kept the business corridor merry and bright,” said the senator.
Signorile seemed jubilant about the resurrection of the holiday lights.
“Santa Claus came to the community,” he said. “We got the lights.”