Last night, at around 4am, I got out of bed, jumped in my car, and headed to Elmwood Avenue. I wanted to check out the new display of holiday lights, being hung on trees, from Forest Avenue to Allentown. You’re probably wondering, what’s so special about the lights? Well, for one, they’re everywhere. Even though half the lights were not lit yet, it was easy to see that this holiday season is going to look pretty spectacular on Elmwood. Between the thousands of twinkling lights at Bidwell Parkway, the lit trees up and down the avenue, and the business owners getting into the action with decorated storefronts, the street has come alive… and for the first time, most everyone is participating.
In years past, the 700 block of Elmwood always had its act together when it came to stringing lights on the trees. Business owners would spend hours upon hours hanging holiday lights and decorating windows. Other blocks of Elmwood always assumed that it was the work of The City, or Forever Elmwood, that gave special treatment to that section, which couldn’t have been further from the truth. But the sentiment caused a stigma on the street, which has taken years to extinguish.
The new stepped up lighting scheme is thanks to a revitalized effort to promote the street, by the Elmwood Village Association, a new business group called Elmwood Strip (spearheaded the holiday light brigade), councilpersons Feroleto and Rivera, and two developers – Sinatra and Ellicott Development. The new strands of LED lights are plugged in to the lampposts, resulting in a dramatic illumination along the street.
According to Feroleto, Elmwood Strip was largely responsible for organizing the street’s inaugural Oktoberfest, as well as heavily promoting the Black Friday Boutique Crawl, and a Small Business Saturday walk. This past Friday’s tree lighting at Bidwell was also a big success. “It’s great to see the business owners working alongside the residents,” said Feroleto. “For a long time, I got complaints that there were no business owners on the board of the Elmwood Village Association. The group started off with business owners, but over the years it turned into residents, and there was no voice from business owners. After talking to the EVA, the composition of the board has now changed. This has resulted in a new community pride within the Elmwood Village. Everyone grabbed the bull by the horns this year, and that will have a direct result in the business that is generated.”