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Shore Road comes to life at annual Christmas tree lighting

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree – record crowds came down to the 90th Street and Shore Road gazebo to celebrate the Shore Road Parks Conservancy’s Ninth Annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Wednesday, December 4, sharing the night with Rockefeller Center.

Families, friends and organizations across the community gathered around the gazebo, sipping scrumptious hot chocolate donated by the Bay Ridge Manor, anxiously awaiting the lighting of the 13-foot tree. With appearances by the conservancy, the Guild for Exceptional Children chorus, the Xaverian High School Pep Band and local elected officials, credit was certainly given where it was due.

“These kinds of events obviously take a team of people but it’s usually one driving force that gets it all done,” explained Shore Road Parks Conservancy Chairperson Charles Fasano, calling fellow conservancy member Linda Allegretti that faithful force. “She’s been doing this for nine years.”

Fasano was just as proud of his entire team and its everyday volunteers.

“What I love about this conservancy is that it’s so community-based,” he said. “You can’t put a price on the community coming together for these events.”

Bundled-up elected officials agreed.

“This is what our community is about,” said State Senator Marty Golden, giving personal thanks to nearly every single member and organization in the audience. “The praise belongs to each and every one of you.”

Golden, alongside Councilmember Vincent Gentile, Assemblymembers Nicole Malliotakis and Alec Brook-Krasny and Director of Community Affairs for Congressmember Grimm Liam McCabe, wished all of Bay Ridge a happy and healthy holiday season.

“I want to give an extra special thank you to the Shore Road Parks Conservancy because of their dedication to all of the parks here in Bay Ridge,” said Gentile, following a slew of heartfelt holiday sing-alongs led by the Pep Band, under the direction of Musical Director Joseph Loposky and the Guild chorus, led by Executive Director Paul Cassone.

This year’s guest of honor was Lieutenant Colonel Lee Anderson. Anderson and his four cadets led the crowd in the moment they had all been waiting for – the countdown.

“After his retirement from the U.S. Army at fort Hamilton, he started the Tiger Battalion Junior ROTC Program at Fort Hamilton High School in 1993,” said Allegretti, the MC for the night, of the highly awarded and equally respected military member. “Our lieutenant colonel and his wonderful team of cadets are present at every community event, helping in any way they are needed from cleaning our parks to assisting at all of these many, many events.”

Anderson got to “one” and the switch was flipped, sending the towering tree up in luminous lights. Each year, Bay Ridge business owner Charles Elias of Charles Elias Salon on Third Avenue donates the picture-perfect pine. This year was no different.

“Every year, this man donates this tree,” said Allegretti, also commending Parks Department member Mike McKnight for decking it this year.

Loved ones were warmed by the sight of the tree and the signs of a holiday to come.

“It’s magnificent,” said Eleanor Schiano, vice president of the board of the Guild for Exceptional Children, in agreement with McCabe that this year’s turnout was more than double last year’s. “It brings the tree lighting and the spirit of Christmas to our community – and that’s wonderful.”

The night ended on an extra special note with a surprise appearance by Saint Nick himself, riding in style with the NYPD.

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