In a recent call to the Greenpoint Gazette, an anonymous community member complained about the lack of holiday lights on Manhattan Avenue this season. The caller lamented the “Scrooges who don’t want to participate with the community” and who are “killing the spirit of Christmas.” Unbeknownst to this anonymous caller, the effort to bring holiday lights to Greenpoint’s main thoroughfare was already underway, thanks to community group Town Square.
In previous years, the Manhattan Avenue holiday lights were handled by the Greenpoint Lions Club, whose members solicited donations from local merchants to raise the funds needed to transform the Avenue into a bright, festive and holiday-ready boulevard for shoppers frequenting these local establishments. Regrettably, over the years many local merchants have chosen not to contribute, resulting in an overwhelming demand on the Lions’ time and resources. Other major neighborhood thoroughfares, such as Grand Street and Graham Avenue, are members of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), whose community services include providing holiday lights on their members’ streets.
Upon learning of the pending lack of holiday lights in late November, volunteer community group Town Square, led by Chairperson Susan Anderson and Gazette Publisher Jeff Mann, contacted Community Board 1 Manager Gerald Esposito in a bid to arrange last minute lights for Manhattan Avenue, and with the help of Esposito and CB 1’s Yoselis de la Cruz, determined that holiday lights were still feasible despite the limited time available. As a result of their efforts Manhattan Avenue will receive holiday lights on Friday December 12th.
In an e-mail, Anderson explained, “We felt strongly that the festive lights represent an important aspect of the holiday season: they will lift our spirits and give us hope for the upcoming year.” Mann, who also serves as Town Square’s Co-Vice Chair and is a member of the Greenpoint Lions was “just so pleased to have had the opportunity to work with great Greenpoint organizations like Town Square, the Lions and North Brooklyn Development to help bring back this uplifting symbol of the holiday season to the community.”
The Town Square edition of Greenpoint’s holiday lights will include green garlands and sparkling white lights wrapped around the street light poles on Manhattan Avenue between Java Street on the north and Driggs Avenue to the south, almost 10 blocks. In keeping with green values, Town square arranged for LED lights to be used this year, which will save almost 90% in energy costs compared to the older incandescent lights.
Town Square still faces the daunting task of raising the funds for the lights. Companies like ExxonMobil, MetroFuel, and the New York Power Authority have pledged their support and Assemblymember Joe Lentol, Councilmember David Yassky, and Esposito have lent their voices to the call for community support. The Greenpoint Gazette, Greenpoint Lions, and North Brooklyn Development Corporation are helping with collections from local merchants.
As of press time, a lighting ceremony, including caroling, was scheduled for 4:30 pm on Friday, December 12th, to take place in front of the Greenpoint Toy Center, between Meserole and Norman Avenues. The honorary flipping of the switch will be done by Lizander and Liz, the children of CB 1’s De La Cruz without whose help, this project would never have happened.