Nov. 16, 2017 By Nathaly Pesantez
Holiday lights are brightening up the streets of Greenpoint once more, this time featuring new patterns and a custom design that nods at a familiar Greenpoint fixture.
The red, green, and white medley of LED lights, an upgrade from last year’s light installation that came after a three year gap without the lights, run through several blocks along Manhattan Avenue, reaching from Driggs Avenue in the south all the way up to Huron Street.
Giant snowflakes, red bows, trees, and stars make up some of the designs this year, but the newest and most buzzed-about addition is the custom-made “Welcome to Greenpoint” fixture, with the “G” appropriately made to look like the G train symbol.
“That was almost $3,000,” said Nektar Giannios, the 50-year-old owner of the Greenpoint Floral Company on Manhattan Avenue and organizer behind the holiday lights.
The holiday lights, which went up on Monday, are a continuation from last year’s successful efforts to bring lights back to the commercial strip, a tradition that was mainly footed by the Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce until 2013, when the group failed to raise enough funds for it.
Giannios, along with Donna Siafakas, the 60-year-old owner of Peter Pan Donut and Pastry Shop, worked to rally businesses and other donors once more, and raised $35,000 over the course of several months to bring the lights back by asking for a $200 donation per shop.
“I’ve been knocking on doors since July,” Giannios said, months earlier than last year’s initial bid.
Roughly 70 businesses participated in the second year of the holiday lights, a number that actually disappoints Giannios, as it’s nearly a dozen less than last year. “I honestly thought that this year was going to be easier,” he said, referring to reports that outed some locales on Manhattan Avenue, mainly corporate ones, like Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Citi Bank, as non-participants last year.
“Citi Bank flat out said we don’t have any money,” Giannios said. “You have money to take up every curb with your Citi Bikes but you can’t have money to give 200 bucks?”
And similar to last year, the majority of the funds for the 2017 holiday lights came from a single donor, Sonny Mukhopadhyay, a 40-year-old real estate broker based in Greenpoint. Mukhopadhyay gave $15,000 this year and $20,000 last year.
The neighborhood’s 94th precinct community council also pitched in to light the Greenpoint stretch.
While the funds raised were about $10,000 less than last year, Giannios decided to purchase fewer lights, but of a higher quality, which ultimately paid off. “Everyone loves it,” he said. “Everyone and their grandmother is taking pictures and putting it up online.”
Indeed, the lights received a warm reception (over 200 positive reactions) when Giannios posted photos of them on Monday to a local Facebook group. The Greenpoint hashtag on Instagram also reveals a slew of photos with the never-before-seen “Welcome to Greenpoint” sign.
The holiday lights will be up until around mid-January 2018.
Tony’s pizzeria wants to donate 200.00 for lights in front of my store 175 Nassau ave contact me please
I am a Greenpoint Native who was forved to leave 7 years ago. I am awed by the generosity of the merchants. The past two years have been marvelous, seeing the lights up again. It brings back childhood memories of how wonderful it was to grow up there. When the lights went up and Greenpoint Bank gave us the Santa Claus Banks, we knew Christmas was soon. Walking that avenue as a child and an adult, always gave me the Christmas Spirit. The stores decorated and all the mom and pop stores, where you knew everyone that ran these businesses. Even though those days are gone, seeing these lights brings back a flood of wonderful memories. Thank you for contributing, and keeping the point in Greenpoint.
My children love the lights so much. Thank you all for doing this.
Thank you for all your efforts. I’m sure you can get actual customers to contribute now for next year. Holiday spirit!!
Im a native and look forward to the lights.
thank you for the wonderful piece & for making everyone aware of the Greenpoint pride and love we have for our community to all that read your articles ,
and indeed we are still accepting contributions and all contributions will be given credit this year even though we will just bank it for next year , the earlier we start the better we will do for next year
Wish we knew about it, we would have made a donation.