By Athena Dawson | [email protected]
The Woodhaven Business Improvement District (BID) kicked off the holiday season on December 8th with their annual tree lighting ceremony. Dozens of families gathered to celebrate on Jamaica Avenue and Forest Parkway, and NYPD officers were present to barricade the street to allow for foot traffic.
While they waited for the main event, residents lined up for free hot chocolate, snacks, and toys provided by the Howard Beach Woodhaven Lions Club and the Kiwanis Club of Ozone Park-Woodhaven. Walter Chaluisant, president of the latter organization, felt the event was a success. “The turnout was great, this was a huge success, everyone here, all the smiling faces and children,” he said.
State Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar made an appearance at the ceremony and thanked the Woodhaven BID, Woodhaven Block Association, and Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society for putting on the event.
Students from P.S.97 and the All Nations Baptist Church choir revved up the crowd into the holiday spirit as they performed Christmas carols in Spanish and English.
John Perricone, executive director of the Woodhaven BID, said the event was a way to bring the community together.
“As the BID we try to support all of the storefront businesses on Jamaica Avenue, and we feel like this is a way for us to be more active as a community organization. We’re a very close-knit, family-oriented neighborhood, so it allows people to enjoy the festivities here but also to patronize and walk through the corridor,” he said.
A countdown for the tree lighting commenced around 7pm, and families gathered around the block to marvel at the brightly lit Christmas tree. Santa Claus also made a highly anticipated appearance at the event, riding in a festively decorated car and a line wrapped around the block for family photos with him.