As It Happens

Oddly placed Holland Tunnel decorations spark anxiety, road rage

A disgruntled driver with an online petition has convinced officials to change the "gangled mess" of Christmas decorations on the Holland Tunnel that connects New York City and New Jersey.

Port Authority vows to move Christmas ornaments after petition nets more than 2,700 signatures

Motorists are complaining that two circular wreaths and another in the shape of a Christmas tree, symmetrically aligned above the tunnel's lanes, don't look right. (Julio Cortez/Associated Press)
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Transcript

A disgruntled driver with an online petition has convinced officials to change the "gangled mess" of Christmas decorations on the Holland Tunnel that connects New York City and New Jersey.

Critics of the ornaments that adorn the tunnel's entrance say the Christmas tree-shaped decoration over the "N" would fit much better over the "A," while the round wreath over the "U" makes "Tunnel" look like "Tonnel."

"I just see a gangled mess that I just want to separate it; I just want pull the tree off there," commuter Cory Windelspecht told As It Happens host Carol Off.

"It just causes anxiety when I stare at it. It's just hard to explain."

'Oh my God, that has annoyed me for so long'

Windelspecht said he travels through the tunnel several times a week as part of his job in medical sales and spends 40 to 50 minutes at a time waiting to go through.

"You're just stuck staring at it, which makes you more angry because now you're stuck in this traffic and you're staring at this sign that doesn't fit and your road rage is going and your mind is going," he said. 

He's not alone in his frustrations. 

As of Friday afternoon, more than 2,700 people signed his Change.org petition asking the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to do something about the incongruous holiday decorations.

"The response from people is, 'Oh my God, that has annoyed me for so long. Thank you for saying something,'" Windelspecht said.

"And for every, like, hate message I get that tells me to get a life and I'm some kind of person just getting 15 minutes of fame, you know, I get 10 nice ones."

'A short simple poll to gauge holiday cheer'

The Port Authority, meanwhile, has taken the criticism to heart, posting a public poll on its website asking New Yorkers and New Jerseyites to vote on how the decorations should be rearranged. 

Participants have until Sunday to select one of four options, and executive director Rick Cotton said thousands have already voted.

"In light of the interest and in light of the proposal for change, we thought it was important to listen and take action, and what we're doing is quite straightforward," Cotton said. "We intend to act based on the results."

These are the four alternate decoration options that commuters are being asked to vote on (Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)

In a press release, the Port Authority shared a poem about the whole debacle, written in the style of The Night Before Christmas.

"And thus to our wondering eyes does appear: a short simple poll to gauge holiday cheer," it reads. "The results shall be honoured; we're delighted to note: commuters everywhere are encouraged to vote!"

'Why is this news?'

Windelspecht, meanwhile, says he's blown away by how much attention this story has generated. 

He said he kicks up a fuss about the decorations every year, and never expected to become the face of this strangely powerful movement.

He has addressed the Port Authority's board meeting and appeared on several news reports. He noted that some outlets, including NJ.com, have even interviewed psychologists to explain why the oddly placed decorations cause so much anxiety. 

"All these people go, 'Why is this news?' I don't know why it's news. I have no clue why someone in Canada, all due respect for your show, cares about the Holland Tunnel. I don't get it at all," he said. 

"I mean, it's gotten to the point where I'm agreeing with people. It's a little over the top, don't you think? We're talking about Christmas lights here."

Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from Associated Press. Interview with Cory Windelspecht produced by Sarah-Joyce Battersby.

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