We were inspired to make this video after reading the wonderful story of the Manhattan Avenue businesses’ commitment to reignite the holiday lights this year here on Greenpointers.com (check out the article here). Having relocated to Greenpoint ourselves just under two years ago, it is truly an inspiration to move into a community that not only supports its new residents, but strives so adamantly to maintain connections to its rich history. We felt that the business owners of Manhattan Ave. and other contributors deserve a sincere thank you for all their hard work this year. This is our way of giving back to them by telling their story. Our hope is to inspire more people to participate next year and keep the tradition alive for a new generation.
Donna Siafakas, the owner of Peter Pan Donuts & Pastry Shop (727 Manhattan Ave.) and Nick Giannios, owner of The Greenpoint Floral Company (703 Manhattan Ave.) are two long-time local residents and successful Manhattan Avenue merchants who are trying to give back the community at holiday time, but they’re learning that things ain’t the way they used to be.
Siafakas loved the holiday lights that used to signal the start of every holiday season on Manhattan Avenue. She related to me how local merchants used to all chip in and collect money for the lights as a thank you to customers who supported local businesses. In those days, Manhattan Avenue business owners were locals with families and had deep ties to the community. Years ago a civic minded local Jewish merchant used to organize the lighting drive and collected the money, which most local store owners were only to happy to contribute.
Giannos and Siafakos have tried to keep the tradition alive, but times have changed and so has the willingness of merchants to fund the holiday lights. Siafakas said that she was shocked by the resistance to contributing for the avenue lights. She does not want local shoppers to chip in, and feels that it’s a way for store owners to show their love for the community; but fewer than half the businesses have contributed so far, and some shop owners told her outright that they would not contribute because they did not celebrate the holiday season. Continue reading →