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Boston Survives "Allston Christmas"

For The Heights

Published: Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 21:09

As Sept. 1 rolled around this past weekend, the leases of thousands of apartments changed hands as the multitudes of Boston-area college students returned for another academic year on a day that has come to be known as “Allston Christmas.” 
 
For both the citizens of Allston and the new residents of the neighborhood, it is a day filled with the gridlock of one way streets, U-Hauls on every corner, and dingy couches and mattresses stacked up on the sidewalk while sweaty college kids make trips back and forth to their cars for their belongings.
 
The unofficial holiday gets its name for the “gifts” left behind by previous owners, which are their belongings they have deemed unworthy of the moving process. The new tenants moving in thus have the chance to race the garbage collection crew to sift through the previous owner’s things and attempt to make treasure out of another man’s trash. The presents, which range from ancient microwaves to rain-soaked couches to cardboard cutouts of Robert Pattinson to miniature and half-broken foosball tables, are certainly not among the best things money can buy, but are in many cases just what a college student needs in a grimy apartment with all of their friends.
 
The “holiday” has even garnered such a reputation that, in 2011, it inspired a former resident of Ashford Street in Allston and Boston University graduate, known as a musician by the alias “Aviator,” to write a song to pay tribute to the occasion. In an interview with Boston.com, he said, “The song is about memories and it’s nostalgic, but it’s also gritty, which is important. There’s a bitter-sweetness to it.”
 
As thousands of new residents move in, there has been a certain degree of backlash from the community—aside from the friendly neighbors who put out coolers of water for parched people moving in on the sweltering day—coming from citizens who have used the app, Citizen’s Connect, to voice their complaints about the aftermath of the move-in process.
 
The app was designed by the City of Boston in order to enable people to report potholes, trash pileups, graffiti, and damaged signs, and therefore allows the people of Allston to send in pictures of any issues they come across during the holiday, accompanied by a report and submitted under the headline “Student Move-In Issues.”
 
In addition to the attention these problems will receive from being reported to the app, they will also be addressed by a new ordinance placed in motion and passed by Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, which is essentially a crackdown on what he has deemed to be “problem properties” based on the dangerous and unsanitary conditions which he explains are not up to the standards of living he would like to hold. The ordinance is primarily directed at college students on a tight budget, who are more likely to feel comfortable in such conditions simply because they cannot afford to improve them. 
 
In order to ensure that all properties attain a certain level of quality, Menino announced at a press conference in front of one such “problem property” in Allston that requires landlords to register their properties with the city annually, and submit them for inspection every five years. While some have criticized the policy for both the price of performing inspections as well as their intrusive nature, Menino held firm: “We’re serious and we’re going to make it work.”

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