It's more like "Silent Night" than "Jingle Bells" outside an Oxnard discount store that has banned the customary bell ringing that accompanies the traditional Salvation Army kettle drive.
But volunteer bell ringers have come up with a creative solution--they simply hold up signs that say "Ding" and "Dong."
"We've had people call up and say, 'Gee, I really miss the bell out there, but [holding signs] really is a cute idea," Salvation Army Lt. Sherryle Morasky said. "Of course you have people on the other side of the coin who say, 'Nice to have some peace and quiet.' "
That latter group would include corporate management of The Price Club, which has imposed a nationwide prohibition on bell ringing at all its stores, including the one in northeast Oxnard.
Collections dropped 28% last year after the discount chain's action, Salvation Army officials said. Also, Price Club allows the Salvation Army to set up its kettle only three days a week, rather than the six days that is usual at other stores. Still, although the spot formerly ranked among the best in the city for donations, the Salvation Army isn't complaining.
"The local management works here any way they can to help us," the Salvation Army's Lt. Fred Morasky said.
Price Club officials could not be reached for comment. Nevertheless, the store's policy draws its share of comment from elsewhere.
"Is that for the hearing impaired?" Robin Karlsson of Moorpark jokingly inquired when she saw army volunteer Tom Nunez holding his signs.
Others are just glad the collection can go on at all. The chain doesn't allow any other charities to solicit donations.