It was the Christmas tree that almost did not happen this year as the New York Post reported that a security guard was hired to chase away panhandlers and homeless people in Ciccrone Park on Arthur Avenue in the Belmont section of the Bronx. That would mean there was no money for a Christmas tree this year. Channel 2 News along with some help from this blogger (it was this blogs photo of last years Christmas tree in Ciccrone Park that appeared in the Channel 2 story) helped shed light on the Christmas tree problem. It was said that the Belmont BID had to hire a security guard because there were panhandlers and homeless people in the park and around the BID area. It seemed that no one told the merchants who wind up paying for the BID through their landlords or property taxes, and many of them were angry.
After the Channel 2 story broke it seemed that area Councilman Ritchie Torres and the BID along with a few other contributors were able to buy a Christmas tree, bring Santa back again to the park this past Saturday (during his very busy season), and have music, cookies, and other goodies for the kids. Last year there were less than 150 people who showed up, but that was due to the rain that was falling last year on the tree lighting night. This year almost 500 people were on hand with a few Parks Enforcement Police, and officers from the 48th Precinct including the commanding officer. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., stopped by to see the tree lighting, and take several photos with many of the neighborhood residents. City Councilman Ritchie Torres spoke of the importance of the tree lighting, and how he was glad to help. 78th A.D. Assemblyman Jose Rivera did not show up again this year, but 80th A.D. Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj was on hand, and Assemblyman Gjonaj brought with him what seems to be his choice to run against Assemblyman Jose Rivera, that being Bronx Community Board 7 member Ischia Bravo.
Above - Santa took pictures with all the children.
Below - Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. also took photos with children, but it was their parents who really wanted their photos with the BP.
Above - Local Councilman Ritchie Torres thanks Santa for coming, and tells that he was glad to help bring the Christmas tree lighting to Ciccrone Park this year.
Below - Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. (left with hat), Belmont Community Activist Jose Padilla Jr. (with his Christmas vest), Councilman Ritchie Torres (middle), 80th A.D. Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, and Ischia Bravo (probable candidate for 78th A.D.).
The 2015 Belmont Ciccrone Park Christmas tree.