Christmas lights still need sponsor
As the 2012 holidays draw to a close, residents of Jeannette may be enjoying the last Christmas season with festive lights hung throughout the city.
The Jeannette Business Association has organized the Christmas lighting program for many years but this fall the group announced 2012 would be its final year leading the effort.
Since making the announcement, the JBA leadership has heard from just one person interested in trying to take over the operation. Rob Fejes, the JBA's Christmas lights chairman, said he spoke to the local business owner and advised her to give it some serious thought and to contact him again after the holidays.
Margie Stanislaw, JBA president, said if there is money leftover in the lighting fund at the end of this holiday season the JBA would donate those funds to whoever takes the program over to give them a headstart.
Stanislaw and Kristina Rugh, JBA vice president, said they believe the operation needs to be taken over by a committee of people as it is a large undertaking.
Fejes and Ernie DiMartino, longtime JBA leader, said they believe the program could be led by one person if that person were able to raise enough funds to pay for the majority of the work to be done by subcontractors.
Fejes said the business owner he spoke to about taking over the project suggested getting business owners to sponsor specific decorations, which would bear the names of the businesses that sponsor them. Businesses could even sponsor a specific intersection and contribute the cost of decorating and lighting an entire cross-street.
DiMartino said one person could handle the project, but that is based on the person being able to bring in enough funds to support paying people who would maintain, hang and take down the lights each year.
Stanislaw pointed out that one of the reasons the JBA has struggled with the program in recent years has been a lack of donations.
Fejes said that because the city is not involved in the lighting program, a person who wanted to could even operate the project as a business venture — charging for decorations and maintenance issues and collecting a profit.
“There are many different ways it could be done,” said DiMartino.
The only way it can't be done is with JBA in charge. During last week's association meeting, the members reiterated the group's plan to end its involvement with the project after this holiday season.
Donations have been lagging for years and last year the organization's officers asked the community if it was willing to support the lighting program anymore. They didn't get much of a response. If no other group or organization steps forward, the lights will not be hung in the city next Christmas.
Each year, it costs about $3,000 to hang the decorations, to buy new lights, to replace broken decorations, to cover the electricity costs for the lights and to have the lights taken down at the end of the holidays.
Each season, the JBA sends out more than 400 letters to Jeannette businesses specifically seeking donations for the Christmas lights. First Niagara Bank donated $1,500 this year to keep the lights on.
Other donors include Varine-Slavin, Shrader's Dairy Queen, Norwin Chamber of Commerce, Antonacci Design Associates, Columbus Home Association, Huntington Bank, Elliott Federal Credit Union, Persichetti's Restaurant, Sanners Handcrafted Gifts, LRG Corporation, Polish Brotherhood of the White Eagles, Chris Ziance State Farm, John V. Graziano Funeral Home, West End Builders Supply, Jill's Hair Studio, The Nest, Jill M. Constantine MD, Bill's Chrome, Judith A. Soles, Jeannette Physical Therapy, Bish Tool and Die, Harry John Hilty, Jeannette Italian Club, JR&M Vending, Deluzio and Company, William Penn Care Center, Stirling Motors, DiMartino Ice Company, Seamsright, Dellalo, Fejes Signs, Jeannette Kiwanis, Jim and Nancy Peters and Strategic Circles.
Donations are still needed to keep the lights lit this Christmas. Each business is asked to contribute $50.
Donations can be made out to the JBA-Christmas Light Program and sent to JBA, P.O. Box 194, Jeannette, PA 15644.
Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-838-5154.