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Coney Island's Mermaid Avenue sparkles with holiday lights this year

The thoroughfare had gone at least two decades without a light display.

Coney Island residents sang a holiday carol as

Coney Island residents sang a holiday carol as they celebrated the lighting of newly installed LED holiday lights on Mermaid Avenue on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

Mermaid Avenue is glowing with holiday lights this season for the first time in more than two decades.

Thousands of LED lights — a large snowflake for each block and a "Welcome to Mermaid Avenue" sign — were switched on along Mermaid Avenue at 6 p.m. Wednesday night with community members, including Councilman Mark Treyger, flipping the switch.

The lights stretch down Mermaid Avenue from Stillwell Avenue to West 33rd Street.

The Alliance for Coney Island is unsure exactly when Mermaid Avenue last featured lights, but it's been at least 20 years, said Alexandra Silversmith, the alliance's executive director. Now, with thousands of lights, Mermaid Avenue has some holiday spirit and a spotlight, Silversmith said. 

"Mermaid Avenue is a corridor that is under a lot of construction and it's not very pleasant to walk down," she said, explaining that the city is doing street infrastructure work. "We hope this will continue building the community and create moments of unity, too."

The lights were made possible by a $20,000 donation from The Arker Companies, a Queens-based real estate developer that primarily focuses on building affordable housing, including a development on 28th Street within the neighborhood, Silversmith said.

"The lights were something that was identified by us as a need," she said. "We don't have a business improvement district in the area to provide holiday lighting, so donations are key. We see the lights as beneficial to businesses — to make people feel welcome to shop there — and at night to brighten up the corridor — improving the quality of life by brightening up people's faces."

The only major lighting display in the area is Luna Park's Parachute Jump, which typically lights up in December for Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year's Eve and other winter holidays.

"After decades without holiday lights, they will surely end 2018 on a high note," Silversmith said. "They'll create the foundations for a growing and more vibrant Mermaid Avenue for the future." 

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