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North Center Chamber Assures Residents It's No Scrooge

By Patty Wetli | December 10, 2012 6:46am | Updated on December 10, 2012 10:14am

NORTH CENTER — For a minute there it looked like the Grinch stole North Center's Christmas.

"It's very noticeable if you drive up Lincoln all the way from Wells. All the light poles are decorated and then nothing at Addison," said Kris Graft, 33. "Then you get to Montrose and Christmas begins again."

Out of curiosity, Graft, who lives in the neighborhood with his wife and daughter, contacted the Northcenter Chamber of Commerce in an effort to get to the bottom of the mystery of the missing mistletoe. According to Graft, he spoke to a man on the phone and later a female intern or part-time employee in person and received conflicting answers to his query.

"First it was 'It's a lean year and we're not doing it,' then it was 'We're voting on it,'" recalled Graft. "I wish they would have answered me better."

Garrett FitzGerald, NCC's executive director, clarified for DNAinfo.com. Christmas cheer is on the way.

"They're coming in next week," he said of the garlands of fresh pine.

The delay, he explained, was due to an unexpected chamber expense that ate up NCC's beautification budget.

"About a year ago, a drunk driver hit the flag pole in our town square," said FitzGerald. "We thought the city would replace it," but as Veteran's Day approached, with associated special events planned, and still no flag pole, the chamber ponied up $6,000 of its own funds.

Re-allocating dollars for holiday decorations required a board vote, which only recently took place, according to FitzGerald, who expressed surprised anyone noticed anything was amiss.

"Very few people even acknowledge that it's up," he said. Out of the chamber's 350 members, "Only one member has called and said, 'Why isn't anything up?' They probably think the alderman puts it up or the city puts it up."

By contrast, Lincoln Square, a veritable Dickens Village to the north, expanded its holiday decorations this year specifically at the request of local businesses, according to Rudy Flores, the new director of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.

"Some businesses felt left out in their part of the neighborhood," he said, particularly those north and west of Lawrence Avenue.

Flores said he already planned to refresh the chamber's supply of reusable garland — newly purchased decorations went up along Lincoln Avenue between Montrose and Lawrence avenues, with existing garland used to festoon light poles north to Foster Avenue and west to Washtenaw Avenue.

Ribbons and greenery "set the tone of the holiday season," said Flores. "You're competing against malls in the suburbs. It creates that festive vibe."

Neighbors agree.

"I love to feel the Christmas cheer," said Kristy Cameron. "I see things like that, it makes me happy."