EXCLUSIVE: NJ mayor personally asks family to remove ‘offensive’ Christmas decorations

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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.


Mayor Peter Rustin told the family the Christmas luminaries were offending one of their neighbors.

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.


  • Hank

    This Mayor married me and my Taiwanese wife 5 years ago at Tenafly borough hall and he said a wonderful poem that he wrote in an outdoor setting (because he said he prefers to make it a special occasion, despite the fact that it is just a clerical registration). He is a kind man that cares about all races and creeds, and has been a fixture in the Tenafly community for decades. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now as most crap posted now on online media is only intended for views/clicks. You other lemmings can just believe what you will.

  • hadenough

    The mayor is an idiot. He over stepped his boundaries and basically should be charged with official misconduct. This is not the mayors job to do this. He shoud have called the police to intevene. Once again it shows Pete is an idiot walking around in white sneakers with dress pants. I have heard him speak several times over the years and I have always thought he was a moron. This situato once again shows he is a moron. Good job Pete as always..

  • John B.

    This is the sequence of events that occurred. Alvator broke the law. Called the media to report he had NOT broken the law and was being oppressed by a Jew. He used that fabricated legitimacy in the media and all over the internet to publicy mark ONLY the Jewish home that he was accusing of Grinch-like crimes against his Christianity. Alvator said that he marked the Jew's home out of spite. This home was shown throughout the internet and media along with lies about Alvator's fabricated legitimacy. Then the vast majority rallied in support of Alvator. The complaining Neighbor then waited for Alvator to have a change of heart. The next day Alvator began to reverse his behavior. He picked up the candles himself. Later he admitted that next time he should get permission, which to me is an admission that he never had permission this time. When you all rally behind Alvator, do it out of respect for what he learned from this. Admire him for finally respecting his neighbor and pledging not to repeat his mistake. We all make mistakes. Don't admire him for the candles he left in spite, admire him for publicly correcting himself and fixing this problem with some humility, as only he could. We should join his pledge to follow the law, and then I promise there will be no further disturbance at dinner-time.

  • Will Crump

    I'll take this a step further. This is not really about merely tolerating Christmas decorations. This is a symptom of a much larger problem. The real issue is the all-out attack against Christianity. We Christians are the ones under attack. We're called bigoted and intolerant, but yet we're the recipient of the most malignant intolerance. We lose our freedom of public expression at every turn. No one else seems to be suffering the same loss.

    When school children can't even carry a Bible with them and read during their free time or get together between classes for a short prayer among themselves something is very wrong. The 1st Amendment was written to PROTECT the free, public practice of Christianity, NOT TAKE IT AWAY.
    Many school systems even block access to Christian/Creationist web sites. The public schools go out of their way to see that Children don't have access to any materials that would refute the humanistic and atheistic evolutionary propaganda they're being systematically programmed with on a daily basis.

    Christianity has always been under attack because it shines the light of truth on the darkness of this sin-ravaged world. Sin/evil loves darkness and Satan is alive and very active.

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