It was a grand glistening display of holiday cheer on Dec. 2. Christmas lights strewn around trees and giant inflatables lit the walking path of Arthur J. Hendrickson Park as residents were guided through a moveable feast of holiday decorations, activities, and refreshments at the Village of Valley Stream’s annual Winterfest Christmas tree lighting.
Those not in the mood for walking could take a ride on the light-festooned jitneys or hunker down by the burning hand-carved fire barrels or stand in awe of the floating Christmas tree on the neighboring pond. Others browsed the stands of local businesses selling Christmas handcrafted goods and treats. There was plenty of merry fun to go around as denizens poured onto the grounds of the Community Center armed to the teeth in scarfs and mittens, all awaiting the arrival of Kris Kringle.
Their bellies were nevertheless kept warm in the interlude thanks to members from the Valley Stream Boy Scouts Troop 116 and Troop 99 who handed out cups of piping hot chocolate. Inside the Community Center building, children of all ages were offered to sit at a table and prepare holiday arts and crafts, courtesy of Community Center Manager Sallyann Esposito and her team. After much anticipation, ninth grade girls from Daisy Troop 715 sang “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” to welcome the big red man himself making his way through the blaring noise of fire sirens rattling the park. Mayor Edwin Fare welcomed Saint Nick to stand beside him to do the honors of lighting up the tree. The mayor started off the countdown from 10, and after the last second, cheers erupted through the crowd as Santa Claus pulled the lever, illuminating the tree. To round off the festive night, families lined up to have their turn to sit with Santa on his sled and pose for pictures. Others also had a chance to sit down and enjoy reading time with the mayor.
Production of this scale required all hands on deck from village employees noted Steve Acquavella, the superintendent of Valley Stream’s Department of Public Works., showcasing the collaborative effort of various village departments from the Department of Parks and Recreation to Sanitation and Public Works.