Sunset Park decks the halls

Despite the cold, dozens of Sunset Park revelers came out to watch the neighborhood Christmas tree be lit in front of Our Lady of Perpetual Help’s basilica on Thursday, November 29.

Police closed off Fifth Avenue between 60th and 59th Streets for the afternoon festivities, sponsored by the Sunset Park Business Improvement District (BID). There were performances by the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chorus, St. Agatha’s Chorus and the OLPH Twirlers.

Rock band Max Reiser and the Apples really got the crowd moving with favorites like “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” plus some Spanish tunes. Grupo Cultural dressed in traditional Mexican costume and performed a spectacular dance, with lots of bright colors and flowing movements. Members of Amerikick did a rousing martial arts presentation to the hit song “Gangham Style.”

Santa Claus was also on hand to hear Christmas wishes from little ones.

Rosemary Hogg and her daughters, Katie, Erin and Shannon, are Rockaway residents displaced by Sandy, temporarily living in Sunset Park. “It’s our first time, we are staying here until our house is fixed,” she said. “We saw it going on up the block and said, ‘Why not stop by?’”

Four-year-old Julian Diaz was giving attendees green snowman stamps on their hands. He said he could not wait for the tree to be lit. “That means it’s almost Christmas!” he exclaimed.

His grandfather, Ben Barretto, said that his family has been in Sunset Park for 58 years. “We are very happy,” he said.

Anita Bulan was with her three-year-old daughter Lucia San Roque Hall watching the performances. “She just loves the dancing,” she said.

Two-year-old Evangelina Ermakova was bouncing to the music. “She has never been so interested in dancing before,” said her mom, Alice.

Renee Giordano, executive director of the Sunset Park BID, thanked everyone for braving the cold. She said that Sunset Park security would be patrolling Fifth Avenue three days a week to help police officers from the 72nd Precinct during the holiday shopping season.

Giordano added that recordings of the performances would be playing along Fifth Avenue from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. throughout the month. “This is kind of a hometown [feel] that welcomes you as you walk down the avenue,” she said.

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