Nov. 24, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
Holiday lights are shining brightly again on Austin Street thanks to the efforts of several local business owners and the operators of a bank.
Fourteen sets of festive lights went up last week from 69th Road to Ascan Avenue after the group came together to foot the bill.
The owners of the Forest Hills Property Group, Cord Meyer Development Company, Crescent Properties, a local restaurant and Ridgewood Savings Bank were able to collectively raise $10,000 to fund the lights after an appeal by the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber, which has overseen the installation of the holiday lights for more than 20 years, has struggled to raise enough money to cover the costs of the lights in recent years.
Leslie Brown, president of the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, said the bustling commercial strip was set to be in darkness this year until she reached out to members of the group.
“We needed some sort of festivity in the community and we needed to support our stores,” Brown said. “Those people really stepped up so now we have a nice display.”
The group, Brown said, was eager to illuminate Austin Street and make sure it remains a vibrant commercial area following a year in which businesses were rocked by COVID-19 shutdowns. The street houses a mixture of mom-and-pop shops, restaurants, jewelers and big chains such as Target and Sephora.
The group put money into a fund run by the chamber which was then used to hire a company to hang and maintain the lights along Austin Street.
The white lights hang high above the street and each set contains a snowflake shape at its center. There are three white lines of lights at either side of the snowflakes which stretch across the roadway. The lights started going up on Nov. 17, with the work completed on Nov. 21.
Brown said the lights should appeal to people of all backgrounds and faiths.
She said the need for the lights is greater than ever this year given what people and businesses have had to endure during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The lights are a sign of hope for the future and it shows that Forest Hills is still strong,” Brown said.
“We want to let people know that we are here, looking forward and are open for business.”