Sour note: Bell-ringer sent packing
What are the top holiday harmonies? Carols and the tinkle of Salvation Army bells, right? Well, apparently not everyone is cheered by the sounds o' the season.
Salvation Army rep Jennie Quick was ringing her bell and singing "Jingle Bells" beside her red kettle on the Downtown Mall December 2 when a Charlottesville patrolman showed up with some Grinchy news.
"The officer told me if I didn't move from in front of the Downtown Grille, where the complaint came from, whoever it was would just keep complaining," says Quick.
Quick called her boss, Roy Wollschlager, the Army's kettle coordinator, who told her to move her base of operations.
"We are not out there to annoy people," says Wollschlager. "I'll move the stand 50 feet to keep business owners happy."
John Archer, manager of the Downtown Grille, denies the call to the cops came from his upscale eatery.
"Absolutely not," says Archer, who says he checked with his staff to make sure. "I hope it wasn't someone walking by who said it was us."
Quick had been on the mall all day at Second Street (below The Hook offices). Was it the singing or the bell-ringing that drove someone to call in the law? That part is still a mystery.
"I came out here and got bored and decided to sing," says Quick, who mentions that her nickname is Stormy Weather. She was ringing and singing "Jingle Bells" and "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town"– and, according to one source, "Hey, Good Looking" when an attractive male walked by.
Not everyone was complaining about Quick's holiday cheer. "The customers sitting outside Christian's were very offended I had to move," says Quick.
"Tell this person you like my music," she instructs Luke, sitting at a table outside Mudhouse, the site of Quick's relocation.
"I like the music," Luke dutifully says.
But not all reactions were so positive. One person who works in the area and demanded anonymity says the bell ringing and Quick's warbling were "very annoying in a work environment."
Does that make someone a Scrooge for calling the police because of the incessant ringing of a bell outside their office or business window, all day long for week after week during the holiday season? And how does the ring-ling-a-ling of Salvation Army minions outside every retail center sit with the city's noise ordinance? And does a little bit of holiday cheer go a long, long way?
The city did not return calls by press time.