Community unites for annual Christmas tree lighting

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patch.com

The Christmas tree had to be put up and decorated in preparation for the event. Hundreds of community members gathered to participate in holiday activities and witness the lighting of the tree on Dec. 4.

Lindsey Smith and Leah Doubert

On Dec. 4, Port Washington celebrated its 19th annual Christmas Tree Lighting.  The members of the community in attendance enjoyed music, a live Nativity scene, a pageant, and a visit from Santa Claus for the children.  Since its creation, this occasion has been organized by the Christmas Tree Lighting Committee, which consists of Port Washington residents and business owners.

“The Christmas tree lighting brings our town together and helps celebrate tradition,” said freshman Jamie Ambos.

The lighting took place at the Blumenfeld Family Park, located across from the Port Washington Public Library, where participants gathered at 4:30 P.M.  The main purpose of the event was to unite all Port Washington residents, regardless of age or ethnicity, under one common interest: celebrating the upcoming holiday season.

“I love the Christmas Tree Lighting,” said junior Amanda Krantz. “I love Christmas lights, even though I don’t celebrate it.” To add to the festivities, Santa Claus made a special appearance on a fire truck, and all kids were given the opportunity to ride on the fire truck and have a conversation with ol’ Saint Nick.  Additionally, Santa gave out presents to all of the children in attendance.

The lighting ceremony included complimentary food and beverages for all.  There was also festive music to keep the holiday spirit alive, creating a fun and community-based experience.  Members of St. Peter’s Church chorus and a live brass band provided music that fit the tone of the event and the holiday season.  There was also a Live Nativity scene where the story of Christmas was retold.

“I think that the tree is a fun way for people to get together whether you celebrate or not,” said freshman Ashley O’Neill.  “Its lights are beautiful.  With the songs and the people, it makes it so much fun to celebrate the holidays and winter.”

In fact, there was fun to be had even by those that do not celebrate Christmas.

“I think it’s cute, just because I’m Jewish doesn’t mean I don’t jam out to Mariah Carey or don’t like to see Christmas trees being lit up” said senior Allison Khin.

In order to give the Christmas tree lighting more of a holiday feel and to keep participants warm in the cold weather, hot chocolate, hot cider, and cookies were served at the event.  This provided a friendly environment for all residents to get excited for the holiday season to begin.

“I think the fact that our town does this is great!  It’s an awesome tradition that brings the people of Port Washington together.  Lighting a community Christmas tree creates festivity, and nothing spreads holiday cheer like that,” said freshman Maansi Shroff.

This year, the tree lighting was dedicated to Bob Harding and Dereck O’Reilly, residents that have been lost this year.  Both Bob Harding and the O’Reilly family have been in support of the event since its foundation.  Both of their families attended and participated in the lighting of the tree in honor of their lost loved ones, and they helped officially bring about the holiday season in Port Washington.