BY KIRSTYN BRENDLEN
Small businesses in Greenpoint
joined forces again this
year to raise money for holiday
decorations on Manhattan
Avenue, a twist on a longtime
tradition on the busy commercial
“It is that time of year again
where during the holiday season
we as a community come
together to make Greenpoint
as special as we have always
remembered,” wrote Donna
Siafakas, owner of Peter Pan
Donut & Pastry Shop, on fundraising
“For many years Manhattan
Ave was lit up with street lights
and decorations enticing shoppers
and reminding the community
of the beauty of Greenpoint.”
Manhattan Avenue had always
been decked out for the
holiday season, said Nick Giannios,
owner of the Greenpoint
Floral Shop, and it was local
shop owners who organized,
took donations from their
neighboring store owners, and
paid for the lights.
But many of them were “old
timers,” he said, and as they
retired or moved away, no one
took up the mantle, and there
were a few years where no decorations
COURIER L 18 IFE, DECEMBER 3-9, 2021
went up in Greenpoint.
Then, a few years ago, Siafkas
had had enough of the barren
streets, and paid for some
decorations out of her own
“She had a few strands of
lights, last-minute type of thing,
it was like Dec. 15 or something,
and she just wanted to have
something on because she just
felt bad,” Giannios said. “The
next year, she came to me, she
came to Ed and Herman and
a couple other guys, and was
like ‘Guys, the community was
pretty upset last year that there
weren’t that many lights.’”
So she, Giannios, Ed and
Herman — the owners of Cato’s
Army & Navy Store and Greenpoint
Toys — and a few other
business owners formed a little
coalition to go out and gather
donations from the businesses
up and down the thoroughfare.
By then, Giannios said, it
had been a few years since people
had ponied up money for the
decorations, and many were
hesitant, but they did it. Last
year, though, they were feeling
a little guilty about prodding
people for donations. It was the
middle of the pandemic, prevaccine,
and a lot of people were
struggling with low revenue
and not much hope in sight.
Then, someone suggested
an online fundraiser, where the
community could chip in.
“I mean, it was a lifesaver
for us,” Giannios said.
Neighbors were more than
happy to send in their donations
large and small, and, because
the call was circulating
online and on social media,
they started to get feedback.
People loved the lights, and
they wished they would expand
a little bit past their normal
northernmost point at Huron
Street. The fundraiser had
enough money to do it, so they
expanded a few blocks further
They decided to do it again
this year, hoping for — and receiving
Greenpointers chipped in last year to pay for the decorations on Manhattan
Avenue. Google Maps
— the same outpouring
of love from Greenpointers.
The online fundraiser was
posted on Oct. 28 with the goal
of raising $30,000 for decorations
— thousands were donated
in the fi rst weekend, and
by early November, more than
$25,000 had been raised. Then,
Siafkis posted an update: shop
owners hoped the decorations
would be hung and lit around
“There were people that contributed
$500, $1,000, $2,000,”
Giannios said. “The majority
of it was people just contributing
less than $100 bucks, they
wanted to do it just because
they wanted to feel a part of it.”
The holiday spirit!
Greenpointers deck out Manhattan Ave for the holidays
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