Bay Ridge

Shore Road becomes small town for Christmas tree lighting

December 9, 2014 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Santa arrived at Shore Road Park just after the tree was lit. He was mobbed by children all wanting to tell him what they want for Christmas. Eagle photos by Paula Katinas
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The Shore Road Parks Conservancy hosted its 10th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Monday night in Bay Ridge, an event that turned the park’s overlook into a scene from small town America.

Scores of people gathered at the gazebo in Michael Behlen Circle in the park at 90th Street to take part in the ceremony. They sipped hot chocolate, munched on cookies, listened to the Xaverian High School Band, heard the Guild for Exceptional Children’s, Chorus and cheered when the switch was turned on to light the tree.

“Norman Rockwell’s got nothing on us! This is small town America, right here!” said Justin Brannan, communications director for Councilmember Vincent Gentile. Brannan was filling in for his boss, who was one of two honorees the Shore Road Parks Conservancy was to pay tribute to that night. Gentile (D-BayRidge-Dyker Heights-parts of Bensonhurst) couldn’t make the ceremony.

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Indeed, the gazebo, which housed the sparkling tree, could have been a scene painted by Rockwell. It looked like a town square.

The Shore Road Parks Conservancy is a volunteer group that works to maintain the parks along Shore Road in Bay Ridge, including John Paul Jones Park, Shore Road Park and Owl’s Head Park. The conservancy organizes cleanups in the parks and hosts special events such as concerts. The conservancy’s president is Dr. Charles Fasano, head of school at Bay Ridge Prep.

Conservancy Founder Linda Allegretti, who hosted the tree lighting ceremony, said the conservancy was grateful for donations from businesses that helped make the event a success. The tree was donated by Charles Elias Salon on Third Avenue. Panera Bread, located on 86th Street, donated hot chocolate and cookies. Hot chocolate was also donated by the Bay Ridge Manor catering hall.

Along with Gentile, conservancy also wanted to honor state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southwest Brooklyn). But like Gentile, Golden could not make it to the ceremony. Fasano said the conservancy chose the two elected officials because of all the support they had given to the group. Both men had obtained funding for important parks improvement projects, he said.

John Quaglione, Golden’s deputy chief of staff, spoke on his behalf. Quaglione, who brought his young daughter, Natalie, to the ceremony, said that he and his family lived around the corner from Michael Behlen Circle and would be enjoying a view of the Christmas tree every night.

After the tree was lit, the conservancy had a special treat for the children in the crowd. Santa Claus arrived on a fire truck! Santa made himself comfortable in a chair in front of the newly lit tree and greeted children who came up to him one by one to tell him want presents they wanted for the holidays.

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