Written by Pat Grace Friday, 17 December 2010 00:00
On Sunday, Dec. 5, Munsey Park residents, in spite of very cold weather, lined the street in front of their homes with candle bags and at 5 p.m. sharp everyone lit 7,500 candles and the whole neighborhood was illuminated in candlelight. “Entire blocks were aglow,” reported Kristen Ryan, and “some enthusiastic families took the time to set out hot chocolate stands for chilly passers-by and host neighbors around their fire pits!” And Santa made a visit on a Manhasset-Lakeville fire engine.
It was a first for the village. The event was spearheaded by Tara Kirkwood who had run ‘Light the Night’ very successfully, for a number of years, in her old hometown. It is a wonderful kick-off for winter, she said, and a community celebration that allows everyone to participate.
“Manhasset residents have responded with such enthusiasm to Light the Night,” Kirkwood reported. “The Munsey Park Women’s Club was so proud to bring our community together in such a simple, happy way,” she continued, “and the feedback has been heartwarming and wonderfully positive.”
The women’s club partnered with Skills Unlimited, an organization that provides jobs to disabled Long Island residents, who provided the candle kits. All proceeds will go to the Munsey Park Women’s Club Philanthropic, Inc., a 501c3 non-profit organization.
Partnering with Skills Unlimited alone embraces the Christmas Spirit because, as Kirkwood explained, “The Light the Night event created work and income for a wonderful group of disabled young adults in a year where they were losing business and hurting. They were thrilled! Our event has ignited a spark that will hopefully shine all over Long Island one day and create even more jobs for persons with disabilities who are training for a life of dignity and success.”
Many, many volunteers signed on to sell the candle kits to their neighbors. Each homeowner was asked to purchase one kit for $20 that contained 12 candles that they positioned across their front yard, one yard connecting to the next. An army of block captains provided follow up to assure there would be as many continuous lines as possible. And, Kirkwood, noted, “Volunteers set, lit and cleaned-up close to 800 candles for some of our neighbors in need of assistance and also the local parks. We made some inspiring connections and friendships in the process.”
It seems certain this was the first in what will become an annual event.
It was a lot of work but Kirkwood said the “end result was magical.”