By CRAIG FREILICH
POTSDAM – A Crane School of Music professor emeritus was told today he can’t perform Christmas carols on his trumpet in front Walmart anymore while collecting for the Salvation Army.
It’s the second time in less than a week that a St. Lawrence County Walmart has banned performances by Salvation Army bell-ringers.
“There are no wires, no boom box, just me,” said Prof. Robert Gibbs, who was visibly incensed by the order from the Potsdam store. “This is not a shabby operation. I’ve put a lot of time in over the years” in behalf of the Salvation Army.
Last week, Carl Zender was banned from the Massena Walmart for dancing to music from a boom box while ringing for the Salvation Army. However, a Walmart spokesperson later clarified the he was welcome to ring, sing and dance, as long as it was without the boom box and its cords, which could be a hazard for people entering the store, WWNY-tv reported.
“Today I was told that it is against Walmart policy to allow musicians for the Salvation Army to play in front of the store,” said Dr. Gibbs, who for years taught trumpet until his retirement from Crane.
The manager of the Potsdam Walmart was “unavailable,” said the person who answered the telephone at the store. A Walmart spokesperson at the store’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. has not yet returned telephone calls seeking comment.
And Salvation Army representatives were not available this afternoon.
“I thought it would be good for stores, that they would like it,” said Gibbs. “I want people to know they’ve stopped this kind of effort.”
He continued, “I’ve made a lot of money over the years for the Salvation Army there. I’ll probably go somewhere else,” Gibbs said.
In Massena last week, Michelle Seymour, one of Zender’s fans who helped organize a protest, told NorthCountryNow.com he is known by many Massena shoppers for his colorful approach to collecting donations.
Seymour used Facebook to get support from 600 people for a rally for Zender at the store.