“Look, mommy. The bell ding-dongers are back with real bells, no more signs.”
Seven-year-old Tyler Gotten was delighted when he saw the 's red kettle volunteers, between and in Bel Aire Plaza, merrily ringing the kettle bells and wishing passersby a Merry Christmas.
Merchants, customers complained
Last month, after complaints from some Bel Aire merchants and customers, the bells were abandoned for large laminated cards printed with the images of bells and the words "Ding" and "Dong."
But the banishment of the traditional bells was short-lived, and by the weekend they were ringing again as holiday shoppers bustled by.
Midway through Monday morning, volunteer Lenore Hirsch with was shaking silver jingle bells donated by Peet’s.
“The bells don’t make any noise, but are more noticeable than the 'ding, dong' signs,” Hirsch said.
Her volunteer partner, Jay Hull, also with Sunrise Rotary, swung a small handbell that gave off more of a ring-ting-ting than a ding-dong.
“I heard there was a lot of reaction from the merchant’s customers when we were asked to stop ringing the bells. So the merchants told us start ringing again,” Hirsch said.
“People have told us they missed the bells," she added.
"The bells are distracting," barber says
Paul Erias, owner of next door to Peet’s, is still not happy about the constant ringing of the kettle bells.
“I haven’t been happy about it for a couple of years. I support the Salvation Army and their cause, but the constant, never-stopping ringing of those bells is downright annoying,” Erias said.
Erias first complained this Christmas season to the Salvation Army about the nuisance of the bell ringing.
“People don’t understand that I am the only proprietor in this shopping center that is at his business daily. The bells are distracting. I have to put up with what goes around here. The other off-site corporation owners don’t know or see what goes on around here,” Erias said.
“I came to work today and someone had put a sign in my door that said ‘I support Salvation Army bell ringing.’ It sure wasn’t me that put that sign there. That’s the type of stuff I have to put up with all the time.”
"Outside in a public place, there will be noise"
Napa resident Jacob Reis sat at a table outside of Peet’s.
“I don’t really mind the bell ringing. It can be annoying, but then I guess I can put up with it once a year,” he said.
Heather Jones and her friend Jill Escareno sat at an outside table a distance from the bell ringers.
The women both agreed the noise of the bells didn’t affect them one way or another.
“If people want to sit outside in a public place, they are going to have to understand there will be noise. It’s something they just have to accept,” said Escareno.
"Worried about the complaints"
Salvation Army kettle coordinator Manny Beeson said the organization wants to continue its Christmas kettle donations program and get along with everyone.
“There has been so much publicity in the media recently with the volunteers no longer being able to ring the bells that some of the merchants told us to go ahead with our traditional kettle bells,” Beeson said.
“We are worried about the complaints of the bells being noisy and annoying because that is the last thing we want,” he said.
“We just want to get the donations needed to help those who need it most at Christmas time.
"The kettles and bells are a Christmas tradition.”