Bells won't be ringing

NEWPORT BEACH — Last-minute shoppers at Fashion Island won't be hearing a familiar sound of Christmas.

That's because the Salvation Army workers and their red kettles, stationed outside of Bloomingdale's and Macy's, have agreed to a request not to ring their bells.

"You have to respect store owners, people," said Salvation Army Major Antonio Orta, who oversees the three bell ringers — their actual job titles — on the property owned by the Newport Beach-based Irvine Co. "We have to comply because we solicit on their premises. We're there to build relationships and let the community know that we work and we're here to serve."

In fact, bell ringers at Fashion Island haven't been allowed to ring-a-ding-ding for at least the last few years, he said.

Some shoppers said they missed the sounds.

"You expect to hear it around Christmastime," said Kent Paul of Costa Mesa, as he took a break from some last-minute shopping Friday. "The weather really doesn't change much around here, so it's nice to have a little reminder of the season, and I guess the Salvation Army bell is one of them."

Added Steve Manship of Huntington Beach: "I've always looked at that as a part of Christmas."

An Irvine Co. spokesman said allowing bell ringers to ring outside of a store's door is up to the tenant.

Bloomingdale's and Macy's managers reached Friday evening, however, said they believed they were complying with shopping center policy by not permitting the ringing.

Nevertheless, the center is the only location in Orange County that Orta knows of where bell ringers cannot live up to their titles. He now refers to his Fashion Island crew as "kettle workers."

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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