RDRC To Take Lead In Holiday Lighting For '08
Silver bells. Giant Snowflakes. Decorations hanging from one side of the street to the other from the East to the West ends of the peninsula. That is what Rockawayites have come to expect each holiday season. Except this year there are none.
"I think we just collectively dropped the ball," said Kevin Alexander, the executive director for the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corp. "I mean not just the Chamber, RDRC - everyone dropped the ball, and we can't let it happen again."
Alexander was referring to the fact that the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce has historically arranged for holiday decorations to be put up across the peninsula.
"I think it was basically a funding issue," Alexander explained Tuesday evening at the lighting of the Christmas tree in the Far Rockaway Shopping District. "It's very expensive, because you can no longer purchase the materials you want to put up. You have to lease it out from a company that specializes in it."
Ira Seplow, the vice president of the Chamber of Commerce commented on the issue on Wednesday.
"The Chamber didn't have the funds to put up decorations this year," Seplow said backing up what Alexander surmised. "Provided we have sufficient funds and monies to do it, I hope [the lack of decorating] will be a one year thing."
Alexander told The Wave that it didn't become apparent the decorations wouldn't be put up this year until late November.
"So, it didn't give us enough time to identify a vendor that could do it on such short notice and to really market it to vendors on the east and west ends," he said.
Alexander promised his agency would be taking a leading role in 2008 in decorating the Rockaway commercial districts from Beach 129 Street to the Far Rockaway shopping district.
He added that RDRC hopes to work with all the necessary organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Rockaway East Merchants Association (REMA) and Community Board 14 to put in a request for funding as one group, an idea that Seplow said he "had no problems with."
Alexander elaborated by saying "Both ends and in the middle [of the peninsula]. Anything commercial we're going to put in a request to elected officials [for funding]."
While things may not be as usual when it comes to decking out the Rockaways for the season, Noni Signoretti of Brown's Hardware called when she heard we were doing this story to say that Beach 116 Street does have some signs of holiday cheer.
For the last few years, the chamber has made sure a tree was lit on Beach 116 Street. Signoretti, a member of the chamber, said the organization didn't receive a grant this year for the tree.
"Brown's Hardware put it [the tree] up and paid for the lights," said Signoretti. "Parks helped erect and light it."
The Knights of Columbus has also set up a nativity scene under the tree.
In addition, the three west end synagogues - West End Temple, Temple Bethel and Congregation Ohab Zedek - came together to sponsor the Menorah lit during Hanukkah.