BAY RIDGE, Brooklyn — For years, Third Avenue in Bay Ridge has been filled with holiday lights.
That was in jeopardy in 2020 because of the pandemic, until some small businesses in the neighborhood stepped up, because they weren’t going to let COVID-19 ruin Christmas in their neighborhood.
Merchants along Third Avenue say the budget for Christmas lights has been dwindling, but with usual fundraisers like the Third Avenue Festival canceled by the pandemic, this year they were worried they’d have no money to light the streets for the holidays at all. When business owners Shelia Brody and Louis Coluccio found out, they decided to try and rally other small business owners to meet the need.
“The people love to come out and support the small businesses and we just love to uplift everyone’s spirits and the lights just remind us that there’s so many good things happening,” Brody said.
The merchants and Councilman Justin Brannan got the ball rolling with some funds, then Coluccio reached out to a friend, who started a fundraiser on the Facebook group “South Brooklyn Food and Wine” and the donations started rolling in.
“I felt it all through the pandemic. I think people want to see businesses thriving and they want to see our community thriving,” Coluccio said.
Within two days, the community raised about $10,000, passing the initial goal. It was enough to brighten the streets and the spirits of business owners who have been through a very rough year.
“I think it’s everything,” Coluccio added. “I think it keeps us going as a merchant, right?”
“I just love this community,” said Brody. “I love how we all came together and we got it done.”
Thanks to the extra money from the outpouring of support, they already have their sights on 2021 when things hopefully get back to normal. They plan to use that money for other events to bring this community even closer together.