Christmas tree and Menorah lighting events light up Port

Jackeline Fernandes, Staff Writer

Every holiday season, there are a few events that awaken the holiday spirit throughout the community, regardless of the different holidays that people may celebrate.  By hosting these events, the town unites together under one cause: spreading joy throughout our town, one person at a time.

The 20th annual Port Washington Christmas tree lighting at Blumenfeld Family Park took place at 4:30pm on Sunday, Dec. 3.  Every year, the Christmas Tree Lighting Committee organizes the event with the help of the Port Washington Fire Department and Police Department. Port residents flocked to the park to witness the lighting of the evergreen tree, which is decorated golden string lights and red and white ornaments.

“Just seeing something as beautiful as the Christmas tree lit up in town truly brings the community together,” said freshman Ashley Yeung.

Tea and hot chocolate were served at the Christmas tree lighting ensure that everyone received a cup of cheer to ward off the chilly wintery weather.

The event also featured a nativity scene. Local volunteers performed in the scene, including children who dressed up as angels.  Attendees joined in by praying around the area while Pastor David Collins of the United Methodist Church narrated.  Chorus members from local churches such as St. Peter’s of Alcantara sang music accompanied by the Liquid Bread Brass Band, and attendees were invited to sing along to popular Christmas carols.

“Everyone loves Christmas carols,” said sophomore Derrick Weisburd.  “It’s a wonderful event for anyone who was not in good spirits to attend, since the music and the tree lighting would definitely get them in the right spirit.”

In addition to the music and nativity scene, there was a truck that transported Santa to the event.  Every child was given the opportunity to talk to Santa about what they wanted for Christmas, and due to the financial donations from community members, every child was able to receive a small gift from Santa to take home.

“It’s important for us as a community to have an event like this that brings us together,” said sophomore Morgen Darnell.  “I’m thankful to be a part of a community that gets together like this during the holiday season since there’s a wonderful, united sense of community and love at the event.”

The annual Menorah lighting at the LIRR on Main Street also takes place annually during the holiday season, and this year it was on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 5:30 p.m.  The yearly event is sponsored by Chabad of Port Washington, and it is the most widely attended Hanukkah celebration on Long Island. The fourteen-foot menorah remains in front of the train station for the duration of the eight-day holiday.

“I’m not Jewish, but it’s still nice to see the illuminated menorah by the train station every year around the holidays,” said sophomore Amy Huang.

On the first night, Schreiber’s Tri-M musicians played live holiday music while the other attendees enjoyed jelly donuts, gelt, and hot latkes. attendees around the fourteen-foot menorah implanted at the site.  In addition to the traditional Hanukkah treats, Starbucks donated hot coffee to keep everyone warm.  To top it off, the first 200 guests received event-themed scarves.

“I love going to the annual Menorah lighting with my family,” said sophomore Emily Appel.  “The tremendous amount of spirit among the members of our community really gets me in good spirits for the start of Hanukkah.”

This year, a five-foot-tall ice menorah was sculpted at the site for all to see and admire.  It took approximately 90 minutes to complete, and since this has never been done before, many are hoping that it will become a new tradition for the event.

The ‘Shamash,’ or the first candle from which the other candles are lit, was lit by Port Washington School Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Mooney.

“Both the Christmas tree lighting and the Menorah lighting are traditions worth keeping alive during the holiday season for many more years to come,” said junior Anais Puentes.  “Although the members of our community practice different religions and celebrate different holidays, it’s the unification of our town that really matters the most during a time of such joy and spirit.”