56th annual Maspeth tree lighting awakens holiday spirit

By Jessica Meditz

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L to R: Grace Meng, Kristen Sapienza, Maryanna Zero, David Daraio, Michael Terry, Robert Holden, Tom Rudzewick. (Photo: Zachary Simonetti)

Last Friday, the Maspeth Chamber of Commerce brought holiday cheer to the neighborhood with its annual Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Held in Maspeth Memorial Square, a sentimental corner of the neighborhood, locals gathered with their loved ones to sing Christmas carols, watch live performances and wait patiently to meet Santa.

Musician Robert Laucella serenaded the crowd with classic Christmas songs, including “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

Michael Terry, president of the Maspeth Chamber of Commerce thanked the audience for their enthusiasm as well as the event’s sponsors: 69th Street Beer Distributor, Barbara Pryor, Blossom Nails, Croce Entertainment, Duffy’s Floor Service, Jim Von Eiff Insurance Agents, Maspeth Federal Savings, Maspeth Town Hall, Michael Falco, O’Kane Realty, Papavero Funeral Home and this newspaper, the Queens Ledger.

Congresswoman Grace Meng spoke at the event, feeling gratitude for the district she represents, along with the holiday season being back in full swing.

“Thank you so much to the Maspeth Chamber of Commerce, Maspeth Federal Savings and all the sponsors for making this event possible. Every year, our community gets to come together and watch this amazing Christmas tree get lit,” she said. “You can’t get a better view of the Manhattan skyline than from right here in Maspeth, so I’m proud to represent Maspeth and other parts of Queens.”

Councilman Robert Holden wished the crowd an enjoyable holiday season and encouraged folks to shop locally on Grand Avenue.

He also shared his plan, along with the help of Meng, to cap the Long Island Expressway to “unite Maspeth like the old days.”

“It would be one Grand Avenue — not upper, not lower, but one continuous shopping area and maybe a park or a parking area for cars to help the storekeepers,” he explained.

To add to the Christmas spirit and sense of community, dancers from The Queens Movement Studios performed an upbeat hip-hop routine for the audience.

The St. Stan’s Players followed shortly thereafter, singing and dancing to “We Need a Little Christmas.”

In the spirit of giving, two raffles were held, and two lucky winners got to go home with a brand new bicycle and a VTech KidiZoom Smartwatch.

The highlight of the evening was when Santa Claus arrived, greeting all the children with gifts and a warm smile.

Santa came for a visit at the end of Maspeth’s annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. (Photo: Zachary Simonetti)

Although the tree lighting ceremony occurs annually, a Middle Village resident named Angelina said events like the tree lighting are essential to the community.

“They really put a lot of effort into it year after year,” she said. “With all the craziness going on in the world, this is something that is done for the children in our community to bring them happiness and spread holiday cheer. I am thankful to be a local and be able to go to these events every year.”

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