NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Arthur Avenue tree lighting ceremony at Ciccarone Park is back on after initially being cancelled because of budget issues.

The Belmont Business Improvement District told merchants and residents at a recent community meeting that the funds designated for the ceremony were being used to pay a security guard to deal with panhandlers in the borough’s popular Little Italy.

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The decision to cancel the ceremony sparked outrage among residents and local business owners.

On Monday, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported there were no guards — or panhandlers — anywhere to be seen in the surrounding area. The NYPD and parks police were on patrol.

Councilman Ritchie Torres said the money for the ceremony will come from his budget and donations.

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The tree lighting will happen sometime next week.



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