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Popular bell ringer, banned from using boom box, can still ring at Walmart

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MASSENA — Each year for the past seven holiday seasons, shoppers visiting the Walmart Supercenter at 43 Stephenville St. were greeted by a man singing and dancing as he was ringing the bell for the Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Campaign.

This year, Walmart shoppers looking for Massena resident Carl Zender won’t find him, as the store’s corporate office decided to ban the use of boom boxes by bell ringers.

While Mr. Zender no longer is ringing the bell at Walmart, Salvation Army Lt. Cynthia L. Crowsen said she wants to make one thing clear — “Carl is not banned from Walmart.”

“This was not a Massena decision at all; it was a national decision. There’s no music allowed at any Walmart locations nationwide,” Lt. Crowsen said. “It was a decision they made for the safety of all their employees, customers and our bell ringers.”

Following the decision from Walmart’s corporate office, Mr. Zender still is allowed to use his boom box and sing and dance — just not at Walmart.

“Carl has decided that since he likes singing and dancing, he will ring the bell someplace else,” Lt. Crowsen said.

Mr. Zender’s new bell-ringing home is Price Chopper, 152 Harte Haven Plaza.

The decision to not allow boom boxes was made as part of an annual agreement between Walmart’s corporate office and the Salvation Army’s national headquarters.

“There are minor adjustments made to the agreement each year. This is just one that caught someone’s attention,” Lt. Crowsen said. “It’s nothing that’s anything out of the ordinary.”

Kayla R. Whaling, a Walmart spokeswoman, said that while the use of boom boxes is banned, Mr. Zender could sing if he returned to Walmart.

“We want to provide a pleasant, distraction-free shopping environment for customers, and we want to provide them an environment that is free of cords, wires and the actual boom box itself, which could be a potential hazard for people entering or exiting the store,” Ms. Whaling said.

The decision led Mr. Zender’s supporters to protest Saturday night atWalmart.

Lt. Crowsen said that the Salvation Army did not support the protest, but that she and her husband, Lt. Russell Crowsen, would be there.

“We are not supporting the event, but we will be there to support our bell ringers and Walmart,” she said.

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