Sunset Park knows how to ring in the Christmas season.
For the 16th year, on Thursday, December 3, the Sunset Park Business Improvement District (BID) held its Christmas tree lighting outside Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church (OLPH), on the corner of 60th Street and Fifth Avenue.
The event included more than just the tree lighting as many schools, companies and parishioners were in attendance to enjoy the activities.
“It went great. About 300 pictures were taken with Santa Claus and we gave out goodie bags to all the kids,” Executive Director of the Sunset BID Renée Giordano said. “Our timing was perfect. Lots of times, we run late.”
The day included some of the fan favorites that attendees have enjoyed since the event’s inception in 1999, such as performances from Saint Agatha’s, the Brooklyn Chinese American Association (BCAA), OLPH and the OLPH Twirlers. It also included favorites such as bubble machines, a hula hoop game and of course, the highlight, chatting with old Saint Nick.
A new addition to the lineup was a performance by the M.S. 136 Charles O. Dewey School senior chorus. “It was great because they were dressed in robes and they sang a Christmas song in Polish, Mandarin and Spanish,” she said, “The BCAA also performed one of their songs in Chinese.”
Empire BlueCross Blue Shield HealthPlus, which sponsored the event, was in attendance giving out information about the company’s offerings.
OLPH’s new pastor, Father James Gilmour, also made an appearance. “It was also really nice to have him show up,” Giordano said.
Although adults enjoy the tree lighting, the event was especially significant for the children. “The kids are excited about doing it,” she said. “It’s a nice way to perform and enjoy a holiday show with family and friends.”
During the day, there were some obstacles due to weather. “It didn’t start out cold but because of the wind, it got a little chilly. The tent over the stage fell so we just took tent out,” Giordano said. “But it looked beautiful having the kids perform with the background of the church.”
Giordano was pleased with the turnout. “There were probably a couple of hundred people there. It was crowded,” she said, adding that both old and new residents attended. “People were sharing stories. Someone told me that she brought her grandchild and remembers when she brought her daughter to it. It means a lot to the community.”