Brooklyn holiday season off to a spirited start with merry MetroTech tree lighting

Second tallest Christmas tree in NYC

December 2, 2016 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Skip Brevis, National Grid’s choir director, kept a crowd of hundreds in thrall as he led the group in rousing renditions of holiday favorites including “White Christmas” at the 27th annual MetroTech tree lighting ceremony Thursday night.  Eagle photo by Mary Frost
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Performances by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, the National Grid Choir, live reindeer and a light show produced by students at NYU Tandon School of Engineering drew hundreds to the MetroTech tree lighting in Downtown Brooklyn Thursday night.

Grown-ups and kids alike joined in singing Christmas carols, egged on to sing louder and faster by Skip Brevis, National Grid’s choir director, who has been leading the opening carols since the event kicked off almost three decades ago.

“It’s one of the best parts of the season for us. And all the employees who have done this for years who love each other,” Brevis told the Brooklyn Eagle.

“All over the country there’s only two types of Americans,” Borough President Eric Adams told the crowd. “Those who live in Brooklyn and those who wish they could. Happy holidays to you all!”

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

The Christmas tree at MetroTech is second in height only to the tree at Rockefeller Center.

Forest City Ratner Companies Executive Chairman Bruce Ratner, Forest City’s President and CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin and the Revered Dr. Herbert Daughtry of the House of the Lord Church joined Adams to preside over the celebration. Holiday treats were provided by Starbucks and La Défense.

Gilmartin presented the Joy of Giving Award to the Brooklyn Youth Chorus’ Executive Director Elise Bernhardt.

Christmas in the time of Trump

The specter of the Trump presidency, much on New Yorkers’ minds this year, even affected MetroTech’s tree lighting.

“Each year we come together in the commons to celebrate the holiday season,” Ratner told the crowd. “And no matter what holiday you celebrate, whether it’s Kwanzaa, or Christmas or Hanukkah or any other holiday, we welcome everybody, that is what Brooklyn is and always will be.”

Ratner was cheered when he added, “We will not let anybody interfere with our diversity and the things that we care about. We will not allow anybody to be targeted, and that is who we will always be and I will always be there and everybody will always be there.”

Brevis said that National Grid, like its predecessors KeySpan and Brooklyn Union Gas, gets into the holidays in a big way.

Every Christmas season the chorus goes “to nursing homes, veteran’s centers, public schools, and we go out as a company and sing in lobbies. This morning we went to an old age home. When we did ‘Oh Holy Night’ you could just see these ladies crying. It was wonderful,” he said.

Despite the uncertainty in the air this year, Brevis was upbeat.

“You know, I think everything’s gonna be alright. And that’s what we’re doing this year … We’ve been singing ‘Don’t Worry about a Thing,’ because everything’s gonna be alright, you know?”

Video by Scott Enman and Mary Frost with videographer Cody Brooks

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