TENAFLY, N.J. (PIX11) – The Alvator family, joined by some neighbors, set out to recreate a tradition they themselves had grown up with.
After they say they checked with the local fire and police departments and were given the green light, 300 decorative luminaries were lined along their street on Joyce Road on Christmas Eve.
“Our neighbors, from all different backgrounds, sent their children out to help fill the bags and light the candles early in the evening on Christmas Eve. We loved it. We thought it was a great sense of community,” said Scott Semone.
But it turns out, not everyone felt the same way.
Just as the Alvators were enjoying Christmas Eve dinner with family at about 9 in the evening, they received a face to face visit from the Mayor of Tenafly, Peter Rustin.
Rustin came to the Alvator’s door personally inform them their luminaries had offended one of their neighbors just a few doors down.
“He just said he’s also Jewish and could understand and empathize with someone who was offended by these candles,” Jason Alvator told PIX11 News.
“It kind of felt like the Grinch was knocking on my front door and my children felt the same way. They were confused by what was happening,” said wife Loran.
Jason left Christmas Eve dinner and picked up all of the luminaries with the exception of a few.
“I cleaned up the whole block. I left his [the neighbor that complained]. Maybe that’s me being a little spiteful about it,” he said.
Alvator had a change of heart and cleaned it up Thursday.
PIX11 tried to speak to his neighbor, but no one answered the door.
As for Rustin, he declined our request for an interview, but did tell us over the phone he made the personal visit to the Alvators after only one complaint from this homeowner.
He also told PIX11 the Alvators were in violation of a town ordinance, which states, “No person shall place any sign or advertisement, or other matter upon any pole, tree, curbstone, sidewalk or elsewhere, in any public street or public place, excepting such as may be authorized by this or any other ordinance of the Borough”
Alvator, however, insists the mayor made no mention of breaking any rules, only that it was found to be offensive by one person.
None of it, the Alvators believe, warranted a personal visit by the mayor of their small town.
“It had nothing to do with religion. It was about bringing people in our neighborhood closer together,” Jason said.
“Unfortunately, the mayor’s actions were violating to our family,” Loran added.