NJ mayor apologizes for telling family to remove ‘offensive’ Christmas decorations after PIX11 report

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TENAFLY, N.J. (PIX11) – The Mayor of Tenafly is apologizing to the Alvator family after knocking on their door 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve and asking them to remove 300 lighted candles they had lined up on Joyce Road.

The family, who were new to Tenafly this year, said they were trying to re-create a tradition the father had grown up with in Cranford of setting up luminaries to light the way for Santa’s sleigh. Apparently one neighbor three doors down was offended by the block long display and had complained to the Mayor, hence the Mayor’s personal visit on Christmas Eve.

Following the exclusive PIX11 story, Mayor Peter Rustin received more than a dozen angry email messages and voice mails, criticizing his actions. The Mayor justified asking for the removal  of the luminaries, saying the Alvator family had not asked for official permission from the police or fire departments for the display.

“I want to apologize for certain things,” Mayor Rustin told PIX11. “One is interrupting a holiday dinner. That was not my intent and it was unfortunate this incident took place on Christmas Eve.”

The neighbor who complained to the mayor slammed a window, refused to answer the door or speak with PIX11 Friday while at least one other neighbor said he was sad to see luminaries go.

The Alvator’s told PIX11 they have accepted the Mayor’s apology.


  • Seth

    I agree with the Mayor public and community safety comes first before all.

    Also, why do some people feel the need to demonstrate how devote they are to others or crank up their music to demonstrate their audiophile ability…..We need to respect each other public space.

    • Jim C

      The police AND fire departments both gave consent to this family to do this, it wasn't a safety issue it was some bleeding heart grinch that is offended by everything they see.

      • John B.

        Actually, the Alvator family lied to the media about getting permission in order to create a fake story and harass their neighbor. They now say that next time they will get permission. This was a fake story to manipulate the public. Sure did work. Too bad the media can't afford to check simple facts anymore.

    • PanOptica

      Technically, the ROW is public property and belongs to the borough. This is really about freedom of expression using public property for a private purpose. I bet if a property owner erected signs lining the street every five feet as a personal expression the neighbors would be in an uproar. So where do you draw the line? Common sense can't be relied upon to prevail.

    • John B.

      Seth, I love that 23 people are against your call for public safety. This story brought out the very worst in people.

  • Joe

    Mayor didn’t do enough he should garuntee they can do it next year without issue and encourage others in the community that it is absolutely acceptable. An apology isn’t enough for a person in office at the level they are. What an atrocity!

  • esco

    Mayor aside, why didn't the neighbor that complained stand their ground and address their complaint to the news reporter? If he/she felt so strongly about it they sure didn't seem to show, they slammed their window and hid.
    Perhaps they made the initial complaint from loneliness and bitterness. Sad for them.

    • John B.

      Maybe because his neighbor left candles ONLY in front of his target's house and had that image blasted all over the internet with lies about the legality of his actions and lies about the reason the candles were not legal. Spoiler alert: it was not about religion until Alvator made it that way! He also marked the home of this Jew for crimes against Christmas and being a Grinch. You will note that the unattended candles were next to a pile of dried leaves. All this target wanted to know was whether the flames were safe and approved. They were not approved, but Alvator had no qualms about lying to us all about that and who knows what else. At the end, Alvator promised to follow the law in the future. We should all join him at that!

      • NotBearsFan

        Dry leaves? Pfft! Can't live in the "what if" J.B. Your pathetic defense of a sniveling whiner has failed.

  • James Senton

    Angry bitter entitled people in Tenafly? What? Impossible. Haha. The candles are dumb, but i would light my house up like Clark Griswold until Easter for a few years. Typical uptight pieces of garbage running a one horse town. Can't god's chosen people have pity on the folks who only get one night? Losers.

  • Lee

    There is no war on Christmas this is Christmas waging war on the neighbors. -The family that put up a row of candles in front of their NEIGHBOR"S homes, was encroaching on pubic space to celebrate their
    religoius holiday. This would be wrong even if it was a case of lining the street with flags without permission. The homeowner didn't like having his private space invaded by a visit from the Mayor, but he had no qualms invading the space which commonly belonged to all his neighbors.

  • darrin

    i wonder if his apology is sincere or just a shallow apology because he realized that the majority of the neighborhood was angry and came together to voice their anger because he sided with one person just because they were offended by the display well to that one person if you don't like it…….stay inside and don't look it just because you don't agree with something dosen't give you the right to try and take it away from everyone that's what's wrong with this country too much political correctness we bow down to the minority when we should just tell them to shutup and deal with it like we did before we became such spineless wimps

    • John B.

      When your solution is to tell people to "shut up and deal with it" you have lost this family's justification of "just trying to build a better community."

  • Guest

    I didn't read anything in the article having to do with religion. The luminaries were placed in the spirit of the holidays. Clearly they were just trying to spread joy. The ratting neighbor's behaviour after-the-fact speaks volumes about her intent–hateful.

    • John B.

      Spread joy? Actually, he said he left the candles in front of the ratting neighbor's house out of "spite." His words, not mine.

  • hadenough

    It never had anything to do with religion until the complainant and the jewish mayor made it a religious issue. Once again one lonely prick complains and the mayor jumos up and runs over to his house and knocks on the residents door at 9pm to have him remove bags with sand and candles in them. Had nothing to do with religion until this idiot made it about religion.

    • John B.

      Actually, there was no complaint. A Jew looked at unattended candles next to a pile of dried leaves in front of his house and asked the mayor if it had been approved as safe. It had not. Alvator made it up that they were approved and according to the others, made it up that this was about religion just to manipulate and dupe the public. Worked on you!

  • soda

    "the Alvator family had not asked for official permission from the police or fire departments for the display." ……. uuuummm since when has anyone had to ask permission to display Christmas decorations??? I would vote him out just for that comment alone.

    • John B.

      Soda, since they began leaving unattended flames next to piles of dry leaves only in front of the Jew's house out of spite while lying to the media and internet about getting approval, and who knows what else.

  • 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.

    • Jason

      John B….or should I call you Brian Buxton….on December 10th at 4:38pm I contacted the Tenafly Police Dept and received permission. All phone calls are recorded and we have the proof. If you bothered to get to know your neighbors you would know that the fire department was also contacted. After you called the police and they refused to act (since I had permission) you cried to your Rabbi who called the Mayor. I contacted the people who enforce the laws for permission and was not informed of this "ordinance". Next year I will work with the town. However, I already have the support of just about everyone on my block and will work with the ENTIRE neighborhood to light the night sky on December 24th 2014!!!!!! I left the candles in front of your house out of spite since you are a miserable, cowardly human being. I only picked them up because I did not want litter on my block. Not because of a change of heart.

  • TimS

    So it looks like this grouchy neighbor who complained, Brian Buxton, is a close friend and/or supporter of the mayor. Look who was the second to congratulate him on his last election victory:

    Surely some ambitious reporter will want to investigate the links between these two and the chain of events which led to Mayor Rustin visiting the home of the Alvators on Christmas Eve.

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