Written by Eileen Russo Friday, 09 December 2011 00:00Manhasset’s annual tree lighting ceremony took place on Friday evening, Dec. 2, at the Mary Jane Davies Park. Excitement was in the air as people gathered to see old friends, meet parents and spouses getting off trains returning from the city, and youngsters eagerly awaited the results of the 2011 Poster Contest and the arrival of Santa Claus to Manhasset. The evening was beautifully clear, but because it was also chilly, everyone was grateful for the hot chocolate provided free of charge by the Manhasset Park District.
The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, under the direction of Commander Falcone, Manhasset Post 304, led the audience in saying The Pledge of Allegiance, and old and young respectfully joined in, facing the flag.
The Christmas Blessing was bestowed by the Reverend Jimmy Only, minister of The Congregational Church. Every year, a member of Manhasset’s clergy gives a blessing for the coming Christmas season and the honor is rotated amongst the several local houses of worship.
Next, the Manhasset High School Brass Choir, under the able direction of Mr. Hector Minaya, middle school band and wind ensemble teacher, entertained the crowd with several festive numbers. The students in this talented group set the mood for Christmas and the holidays, and played well, despite the cold weather that must have been chilling their fingers! At least their heads were warm underneath those red and white ‘Santa’ hats they were all wearing.
Ann Marie Curd, Manhasset Park District commissioner, introduced Jon Kaiman, supervisor of the Town of North Hempstead, who surprised and delighted everyone with his shout into the microphone of “Merry Christmas, Manhasset” at the start of his remarks. Other Town officials present were also introduced.
Then Dr. Harvey Passes, president of Manhasset’s Chamber of Commerce, came to the microphone and asked everyone “Who Loves Manhasset?” A lot of children responded. Passes then said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t hear you.” And he again asked, “Who Loves Manhasset?” This time the response was almost deafening as the crowd enthusiastically roared in reply. Now that he had the full attention of the audience, Passes said the theme of this year’s poster contest, as chosen by the Plandome Road Merchants, was “Holiday Season of Lights” and he then introduced the winners, grade by grade:
1. Kelly Clark
2. Declan Gibbons, Munsey Park
3. Cathryn Weigand, Munsey Park
1. Emily Theodosopoulos, Shelter Rock
2. James Morris, Munsey Park
3. Jacob Rohrmann, Shelter Rock
1. Paul Roditis, Munsey Park
2. Gigi Madden, Munsey Park
3. Grace Miller, Munsey Park
1. Emily Weigand, Munsey Park
2. Paige Theodosopoulos, Shelter Rock
3. TJ Roszko, Shelter Rock
1. Donna Callery, Munsey Park
2. Veronica Khim, St. Mary’s
3. Matthew Kiley, Munsey Park
1. Kyra McLaughlin, Munsey Park
2. Isabella Baron, Marisa Murray, Sabrina Lee, Munsey Park
3. Ashley Luo, Munsey Park
1. Soo Byn Lee, Shelter Rock
2. Morgan Bo, Shelter Rock
3. Xiana Ty Randolph, Munsey Park
Passes told the audience that the winner of the grand prize in the poster contest will be chosen by Manhasset residents. To participate, please go to the website for Manhasset’s Chamber of Commerce: www.ManhassetNY.org and cast your vote anytime from Dec. 4 until Dec. 30. The grand prize winner will be announced on the site, in the Manhasset Press, and at the Jan. 3 Manhasset Chamber of Commerce Meeting, to be held in the Bayview Avenue Firehouse, at 5.30 p.m.
Next came the countdown leading to one of the highlights of the evening. The crowd joined in: “…four, three, two, one,” and all of a sudden, and to the delight of everyone, the multi-colored lights on the Christmas tree came blazing on. Performing the honors for that nice task was Bernard Rolston, commissioner of the Manhasset Park District.
But the main attraction and the one that created the most smiles, and the loudest cheers, was when Santa Claus arrived, sitting on top of a bright and shiny Manhasset-Lakeville fire truck. Surrounded by lights, Santa waved and greeted everyone from his high-up seat, saying over and over again into his microphone, “Merry Christmas to all.” One long-time Manhasset resident said: “I couldn’t get over the number of people that lined the sidewalk from Manhasset Avenue to Memorial Place to see Santa.”