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On again/off again, the Morris Park lights come back

Bronx Times

The Christmas lights will go up on Morris Park Avenue, thanks to some merchant Santas.

But some other tight-pursed Scrooges along the shopping strip could be seeing the ghost of customers past.

The head of a local civic association is calling on shoppers to boycott those merchants during the holiday season.

The switch got flipped off for the annual tradition two weeks after lack of money forced organizers to nix it.

But a cluster of local store angels dug deeper into their cash registers to come up with enough Christmas green.

And those that didn’t, will carry a mark of shame - missing a Thank You poster in their windows, with shoppers advised to boycott the Scrooges.

The Morris Civic Association revived the latest attempt to get the lights up after the situation became the shame of the neighborhood, especially with nearby Pelham Bay, Throggs Neck and Westchester Square seeing holidays lights every season.

Local Community Board 11 and other community leaders also stepped in to help.

On top of scheduling a Nov. 2 fundraiser at MPCA headquarters, members personally walked the business strip, soliciting funds.

The Thank You posters, said D’Angelo, are “a way to say thank you to the stores and shame on you for the rest.”

He advised neighbors to avoid patronizing stores that don’t have a sign.

“Just tell them I’m not coming in here for a month,” said D’Angelo. “It’ll hurt merchants in the pocketbook.”

The new funding isn’t a Christmas miracle but a copout, charged Morris Park Business Alliance head Bobby Ruggiero.

He is outraged only a fraction of businesses will pay for the lights instead of some 300 Morris Park shops who dodged the donation box.

“This is like Obamacare,” fumed Ruggiero. “A handful of people picking up for the rest.”

He said he’d rather see the project go dark.

Ruggiero spent the entire year collecting for the cause only to pull a measly fraction of the $24,000 needed.

But after word that Morris Park Avenue might go dark again for second straight year, several shopkeepers contributed beyond the $100 each needed for the project, now priced at $16,000 thanks to a 30% price cut from the light rental company.

Ruggiero wants to shame the merchants almost a similar way as D’Angelo, but have customers personally berate skinflint shopkeepers.

It’s only through public pressure, he believes, that merchants will join a business improvement district to make it easier to fund the annual light project, with property owners paying an assessment fee.

Ruggiero and Joe Regina, program director for Bronx Chamber of Commerce merchant development committee are working on getting a successful BID going.

Either way, Morris Park neighbors will now have some brightly lit Yuletide cheer.

Reach reporter David Cruz at 718-742-3383 or dcruz@cnglocal.com.

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

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