When Holiday Decorating Is Like Buying a Rolls and Driving Away in a Used Chevy


When it comes to holiday decorating, nobody does it like RIOC. That’s because no one else would have the cheek. $75K, half as much as the state squeezes out for all the nonprofits depending on them, for this? Really?

By David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Holiday Decorating on the Cheap

For the fourth consecutive year, RIOC’s pouring $75,000 into contracting with The Neave Group. But for the first time, bidding was competitive, and because, apparently, nobody was looking, Neave made severe cuts for the win. At exactly the same price as every other year.

Installed Reindeer and Sled parked int the Farmers Market

Although the holiday decorating looked slim every year, this year sets a record in cheesy. Joining the Reindeer and Sled in Good Shepherd Plaza, this year, is not a plastic snowman. For 2021, we’re treated to a third, smaller reindeer weirdly encaged.

There’s long been a sense that Roosevelt Island gets decorations nobody else wants or retreads. But this year, it’s worse. Take a closer look at the unhappy reindeer’s antlers.

Returning for a fourth year, the $75,000 reindeer arrived with chipped and dented antlers.


Keeping in mind that, officially anyway, RIOC’s paying the same $75K it’s paid since 2017, big cutbacks ring strange. The biggest loss is in Riverwalk Commons, a community gathering space in Southtown where mass transit and residents from across the Island intersect.

This year’s holiday decorating in the commons comes to… wait… calculating… uhm… Nothing.

And they reduced the number of grazing reindeer in the Tram Plaza if anyone ever gets to see them with construction work going on through the holidays. Plus, most of the lighting and wreaths through the WIRE Canyon have been brought down to what you’d expect from your local pharmacy.

When she came up with the idea of investing in festive holiday decorating, former RIOC President/CEO Susan Rosenthal had grander hopes. There was talk of photo ops and a tourist destination, but she’s gone now, and so is the spirit.

Take heart though, the ornaments are back in the Firefighter’s Field traffic circle where most residents will never see them. And the tree and faux gift packages chased Fall for Arts out of the Rivercross Lawn.

What child doesn’t dream all year of a Christmas tree with the falling leaves of autumn for a backdrop?

All Is Not Lost

In spite of RIOC’s expensive, but lukewarm holiday decorating, locals can look forward to well-designed displays in many building lobbies. And for community spirit, the best public space every year is a gift from Brian Weissberg and the team at Manhattan Park. The entire space is ringed with lights and, at the center, a big and thoughtfully decorated tree.

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