Sunset Parkers celebrate 18th-annual tree lighting

Light in the darkness: The 18-foot-tall Christmas tree stands resplendent on the corner of 60th Street and Fifth Avenue after the lighting ceremony on Nov. 30.
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Festive locals gathered at the corner of 60th Street and Fifth Avenue in Sunset Park on Nov. 30 for the neighborhood’s 18th-annual Christmas tree lighting.

The event drew Sunset Parkers young and old, some of whom said they attended the event for the first time this year and were awed by the giant tree twinkling with lights.

“It’s beautiful,” said Carlotta Holber, a nine-year Sunset Parker who came out for the first time.

The 18-foot-tall tree set up outside Our Lady of Perpetual Help this year was artificial, as it has been for the past few years, because the quality is more consistent, according to the chief organizer and executive director of the Sunset Park Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District, which sponsors the annual event.

“We used to have a real tree, but then there was a snowstorm and the tree couldn’t come down from Canada,” said Renee Giordano. “I’ve never gone back, because [the artificial trees] are always even and perfect.”

The event also featured musical performances and carols — including classics such as “Deck the Halls” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” — from the professionals from the local Regina Opera Company, along with students from the nearby I.S. 136 and P.S. 105 schools on the stage set up in front of the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Youngsters from the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association’s after-school program also sang songs in Chinese. Anays Boutique, a local shop that specializes in custom dresses for weddings and quinceaneras, staged a fashion show as well.

And kiddies flocked to pose for a photo with Santa Claus in front of the tree before receiving a goodie bag full of crayons, toys, kaleidoscopes, and coloring books.

A local mother-daughter duo said they had walked by the tree for many years, but they were glad they finally came out to the kickoff event together for the first time to see the magic unfold in person.

“We’ve seen [the tree], but we’ve never been to the tree lighting,” said Tracy Schwartz, who attended with her mother Charlotte. “It was exciting to see.”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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