“Ladies and gentlemen,” Valley Stream Mayor Ed Fare announced to a crowd numbering in the hundreds shortly after 5 p.m. last Friday evening, “I’ve been informed that Santa is on his way.”
The crowd cheered. Moments later, sirens could be heard in the distance. Then a fire truck appeared on Valley Stream Boulevard. The sirens got louder. The truck pulled into the parking lot between Village Hall and the Village Green. Children gathered around, many with their camera phones out.
To cheers of “Santa, Santa,” the big man himself emerged from the fire truck and began greeting excited children and their parents.
It was just the start of the village’s annual tree lighting ceremony. Santa made his way into Village Hall and took his spot in his sleigh, where he met with the kids and listened to requests for Dec. 25. Every child got a souvenir photo to take home and some candy canes.
There were many other activities as well. The mayor read “The Night Before Christmas” and Christmas movies played in the courtroom. Children penned letters to Santa to be sent to the North Pole.
Outside, the Memorial Junior High School Jazz Band played well-known holiday songs, and children had their picture taken with a giant inflatable snowman.
After everyone had their moment with Santa, he joined Fare, the village board and a well-bundled-up crowd outside for the tree lighting. Fare led the countdown from 5, then Robert W. Carbonaro School sixth-grader ToniRaquel Spota, a winner of the Mayor for a Day essay contest, pulled the switch and the tree was lit.
Village officials estimated that more than 1,000 people attended the event, of the largest holiday crowd in recent memory.
The next holiday celebration will be Saturday, Dec. 8 at 6 p.m. as the menorah will be lit for Hanukkah near the Valley Stream train station.