Before Santa appeared in a pickup truck, before thousands of lights blinked on, before the first of tens of thousands of guests would stream to the tiny block in Hampden, there was work to do on 34th Street. A lot of it.
Tinsel to sweep, stars to tape, garlands to drape, and lights — so many strings of lights — to twist along trees and porches, before the annual "Miracle on 34th Street" lighting ceremony.
"Did you fluff the tree?" Elaine Doyle-Gillespie asked her husband, Ed, motioning to a small, artificial tree festooned with bright flags. "You have to pull the branches out."
Friends of the couple weaved through their postage-stamp front...