For a limited time, the city of Boston is accepting a new form of payment for parking tickets: Cabbage Patch Kids, Morphibians, even Mega Blocks.
To help boost donations to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots campaign, city officials are allowing motorists to pay their fines with toys equal in value to the amount owed. Offenders must produce a sales receipt. Marcia Harris showed up at City Hall on Wednesday with stuffed animals, a yo-yo and other toys to pay off her $36 violation for an expired meter.
She said she was initially irritated to get a ticket just “20 seconds” after her meter ran out. The meter maid handed her a piece of paper informing her of the offer.
“I thought the paper would say I could go protest at City Hall,” Harris said. “This was much better. I would spend two-for-one. I think this is such a great idea.”
Tickets issued Dec. 1, 2 or 3 are eligible for the program, excluding those issued for public safety reasons, such as parking in front of a handicap ramp, in a crosswalk or in a fire lane. The city is accepting toys until Friday.
“I think it should go longer – maybe any ticket in December,” said Theresa Labriola, who settled a $20 violation for an expired inspection sticker with two Groovy Girl dolls. “It just takes 10 minutes out of your day, and it makes you feel better about getting a ticket.”
Zoinks!, a toy store in Faneuil Hall, just across the street from City Hall, is offering a 15 per cent discount to customers who show a Boston parking ticket.
Marine Sgt.-Maj. Rudy Wieners said he knew of no other city in the United States that offers a similar ticket exchange to benefit Toys for Tots. Boston has been running the program since 1999.
“These toys go to needy kids. And it’s bad enough to get a ticket, but at least you feel the money is going to something that means something rather than being thrown in a big pot up there in Boston,” he said.