There won't be holiday pole decorations in South Side, this year


Last updated 12/22/2021 at 6:25pm

Holiday lights or banners won't be up in South Side this year due to the construction along E. Carson Street but should return for 2022.

Some people are thinking the Grinch stole Christmas along East Carson Street in South Side with the lack of holiday decorations on the poles in the neighborhood's business district.

In years past, stars, snowflakes and banners have decorated utility poles along East Carson Street helping create a festive holiday atmosphere. Although not without struggles, for most of the past 50 years the South Side Chamber of Commerce was able to cobble together enough support to have decorative lights for the holidays.

Although historically the Chamber took charge of putting up the holiday decorations, in 2019 the task was taken over through the South Side Parking Enhancement District (PED). While the Chamber had to raise money each year to get the decorations up, the PED had a dedicated funding source from extended hours of parking meter enforcement in South Side. PED funding could be used for public safety, cleanliness and infrastructure.

Initially, it was decided to go with holiday banners rather than lights. The cost of producing and installing the banners instead of lights allowed many more poles to be dressed along East Carson Street. A South Side firm contributed the designs for the banners.

According to District 3 Councilman Bruce Kraus, while there was discussion about placing the holiday banners up this year, it was decided to leave the poles bare because of the extensive construction along E. Carson Street. There were also concerns about the existing banners being able to be seen at night.

Councilman Kraus says he liked the design and messaging on the holiday banners but was disappointed the colors didn't stand out after dark on the new light poles. If holiday banners are used in the future, they may be redesigned with more vibrant colors.

Moving forward, he said there should be money available through the PED for holiday decorations and looks forward to a greater holiday display next year. Moving forward, he said he wasn't committed to banners on the poles and would be open to discussion about returning to having holiday lights or a combination of lights and banners.

Candice Gonzalez, executive director of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, agreed the East Carson Street construction put a damper on the holiday decorations. Acknowledging the Chamber lost control of the pole decorations several years ago, she said they had considered promoting a business window decorating contest in South Side.

She wasn't able to follow through with the idea since the Chamber was still dealing with losing everything in a fire earlier in the year, that and the construction disrupting large portions of the street.

Ms. Gonzalez said she is looking forward to having a "wonderful, exciting" display along East Carson Street next year.

Up on the Hilltop, two of South Side closest neighbors are showing their holiday spirit in Mt. Oliver and Allentown.

Mt. Oliver Borough decorates the light poles along Brownsville Road and places a Christmas Tree on The Deck beside the Borough Building. The borough purchases the decorations and its Department of Public Works does the installation.

Over in Allentown, the Allentown Community Development Corp. with the assistance of the Hilltop Alliance has displayed holiday banners along East Warrington Avenue for several years.

However, South Side isn't without a holiday spirit. While the Chamber of Commerce wasn't able to put up its Christmas Tree at Esser's Plaza, a community tree is there nonetheless.

Kitty Vagley from the Friends of South Side Park explains she received a call from James Hill, special assistant to Mayor William Peduto, saying the city was interested in placing a 25-foot-tall Christmas Tree in South Side, one of four throughout the city. After conferring with the South Side Community Council, the Department of Public Works installed the tree and connected the electric for the lights.

Ms. Vagley said a Christmas Tree party is planned for Friday, Dec. 17. Phillips Elementary students, Ormsby Kindersports, KidSmart Club and the Carnegie Library staff are making ornaments which will be added to the tree at 2 p.m. There will be some caroling and hot chocolate for the children.

That same evening, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., there will be a community Christmas Tree celebration featuring hot chocolate with marshmallows and crushed peppermint and whipped cream from Le Petite Cafe & Grille. Phil Sauter and Melanie Todoroff will serve as DJ's. There will also be caroling. This event is sponsored by South Side Community Council, Wells Fargo Advisors and South Side Kids.


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