Continuing a tradition that has spanned a few decades, Woodhaven gathered at Forest Parkway and Jamaica Avenue to witness the lighting of our town Christmas Tree and Menorah.  As always, the ceremony and the trimming of the tree and all of the lights on Jamaica Avenue was sponsored by the Woodhaven Business Improvement District (WBID), which means that it was underwritten by the business owners of Woodhaven.

The ceremony was slated to start at 6:30 and the crowd began to gather around an hour beforehand.  Members of WBID were on hand to distribute Santa hats, and other goodies.  And Franklin K. Lane's ROTC was on hand to act as the color guard and to provide the beat.

There was a damp chill in the air and folks were stamping their feet in an effort to keep warm.  Commuters on the "J" Train were curious about what was going on, and as each train opened its' doors, they were peeking out at the crowd below.

Naturally, there were a lot of families in attendance.  The BID had been distributing flyers all along the avenue -- and we even had a few folks who said they had read about it here on Project Woodhaven.  There were lots of smiles and hugs to be seen.

The ceremony began with the presentation of colors by Franklin K. Lane's color guard. 

Maria Thomson, Executive Director of WBID, did the introductions.  Paul Rudolph (of Walker Funeral Home) and his children led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Father John Francis of St. Thomas the Apostle addressed the crowd and told them that his prayer is that "the light of the Christmas Tree and the Menorah may alight in each one of us."  He also reminded the residents that the Midnight Mass will be returning to STA this Christmas.

WBID representatives Dr. Dennis Pazos (Chiropractor) and Mark Klimm (Allstate Insurance) also spoke to the residents.

Rita McCauley and Gene McCauley of Woodhaven Gallery toasted the crowd and Stephen Esposito (Orthopedic Shoes) read "The Night Before Christmas.

And then, after a reading of the history of the Menorah, Woodhaven's Menorah was lit.

Assemblyman Mike Miller was on hand, as was Eric Ulrich of the City Council.  Both wished the crowd well, and stayed to introduce all of the costumed characters (coming up soon).

The crowd was getting anxious, wanting to see the costumed characters and the lighting of the tree.

And their patience was rewarded moments later when Woodhaven's Christmas Bear was introduced.  The kids loved it was couldn't wait to see what was next.

The End of Part I.  Click Here To See More Guests and Woodhaven's Beautiful Tree!  And Video! 

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