Dec. 5, 2023 By Nevine Salameh
A full spectacle of lights and music embellished Astoria blocks as part of fourth Annual Christmas Tree Lighting and Parade celebration on Thursday, Nov. 30.
Participants of this year’s parade embraced the cold temperature and kept spirits high as they marched their way down from 50th Street and 30th Avenue to Athens Square Park, located at 30th Street and 30th Avenue in Astoria.
The air was filled with Christmas joy from both the NYPD Police Band and local students, who added to the march’s festive ambiance by caroling and singing along with tunes like “Jingle Bell Rock. ”
Special guests Santa and Mrs. Claus, accompanied by a couple of helpful elves, brought cheer for the kids in attendance.
Reaching the end of the march, thousands of revelers packed Athens Square Park, where they were met with a Norway Spruce tree, identical to the Rockefeller Center tree, and cheered for the introductions of Gus and Maria Lambropoulos to kick off the ceremony.
In an enthusiastic speech to the crowd, Gus Lambropoulos shared that this year’s tree took 2,400 man-hours to put together and required six people working for 10 days to assemble in the heart of Astoria. The community man and lifelong native also shared that the origins of the event began during the pandemic.
“This started in COVID when spirits were low, sadness was high and people didn’t really know where they were coming and going,” he said. “… Now it’s four years later, we have this and I wanna say that this happened because of you — not just us, because of you and I, together as a community.”
Shortly after words were shared and thanks were given to the large roster of event sponsors, the tree was finally illuminated and the colorful display of lights was revealed. The center platform filled with carolers and musical performances from students from local participating schools like Frank Sinatra High School, St. Demetrios Prep, P.S. 17 and more.
Besides the festive lights, many attendees, like Aryn Morse and her daughter Ruthie, stopped by for the performances of their fellow community members. “It’s our first time, but we decided to stop by for her friend in P.S. 17,” said Morse, with Ruthie chiming in, “and the lights and songs.”
The annual Christmas Tree lighting and parade only continues to grow, and according to the event organizers, part of that growth happens organically.
Resident Lisa Ackerman, who stumbled onto the event and decided to stay, said she would be returning next year. Among all the festivities, one of the highlights for Ackerman was “the reveal of the lights.”