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Port Celebrates 12th Annual Tree Lighting at Landmark

On a cold 6th of December evening, hundreds of Port Washingtonians gathered in Blumenfeld Family Park at Landmark on Main Street to celebrate the start of the Christmas season with a tree lighting, Christmas carols and a visit by Santa Claus.

The event was chaired by Vinnie Costa. The well-decorated Christmas tree was planted three years ago and has grown to a height that does justice to this very moving celebration. Peggy Falconer praised the progress made in hosting this event in the past 12 years and praised the merchants of Port for their contribution to make the event possible. All the volunteers, including those in the biblical costumes, were local people; the singers were led by Mike Tedeschi and sang for the many young children who attended the event.

The children were treated to a number of horses and goats provided by the Hooves For Hope. Its founder and well-respected natural horseman, Mr. Sunny Gargiulio, started this unique equine-based program for children living with autism and their families. 2009 was Hooves For Hope ‘s inaugural year and the program has been very well received. Nine children and families took part in a pilot program and in the spring of 2010 Hooves For Hope is hoping to serve more families. Thanks to friends of the Sands Point Preserve, Hooves For Hope has its home at the beautiful Sands Point Preserve. Information on sponsorship opportunities, donations or applications can be obtained at

Peggy Falconer expressed her appreciation for the support received from Port’s police and fire departments as well as the town of North Hempstead. Restaurateur Connie O’Reilly, of Finn MacCool’s, praised the fact that more and more people are attending this event, which has been growing since its inception 12 years ago, He suggested that the atmosphere at this inspiring event has become symbolic and signals the start of the Christmas season in Port. At 5 p.m., a Port Washington firetruck with lights and sirens blaring pulled up curbside and the youngsters were treated to a lively Santa who exited the truck and marched through the crowd.

Town Councilman Fred L. Pollack extended holiday greetings to the participants and his best wishes for a happy new year for all his constituents. He said the beauty of the event was that it was organized and carried out by the people of Port acting unilaterally and not dependent upon any single organization for sponsorship. Police Commissioner Sal Zimbardi joined in, saying that there is no town like Port and offered his best wishes for the holiday season. Town Clerk Leslie Gross thought it wonderful that the community could get together to celebrate such an inspiring evening.

Perhaps the inspiration, ambiance and atmosphere of the event were best summarized by Town Clerk Leslie Gross. Gross spoke enthusiastically in the cold, brisk winter air of various conversations and efforts of towns people concerning how to best express the spirit of the season. Her answer was simply to follow the golden rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”