There were reindeer ears, Santa hats and winter coats abound as locals gathered on the crisp evening of Dec. 4 for the annual tree lighting of the Throggs Neck Business Improvement District at Derosa O’Boyle Triangle.
There were a few hundred people in attendance as state Assemblymember Michael Benedetto led the ceremony, opening the event with the St. Benedict’s school choir. The children sang Christmas classics like “Silent Night” and “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” followed by the countdown of the tree lighting, which started from 12 to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. Shining bright with blue, red and green lights and a white bright star on top, the tree donated by Thomas Accomando, a Community Board 10 member, stood 12 feet tall (with a two-foot base.)
After the lighting, Santa Claus made a cameo appearance to distribute 700 toys provided by the BID with the help of Assemblymember Nathalia Fernandez. Eager children waited patiently for their gifts and an opportunity to meet old St. Nick as the line wrapped around the triangle.
The event was a free-for-all with pizza from Cestra’s Pizza, wings from HK Kitchen and Drafthouse, penne a la vodka from Crosstown Diner, chicken teriyaki from Mamasushi, popcorn, cotton candy and much more.
Last year the BID had only three sponsors, this year they had eight, and its executive director, Robert Jaen, has already secured about a dozen for next year. “When you do something good and people know it, they’re going to help you,” said Jaen.
But that’s not the only good Jaen has done for the neighborhood.
Before he took over as executive director in 2019, there were 36 vacant storefronts in Throggs Neck. Today, there are six with three of them under contract to open soon, according to Jaen. And under his watch, the BID also replaced all the broken streetlights from Miles Avenue to Bruckner Boulevard. “The promises that I made when I took over as executive director is we would illuminate the neighborhood, we would make the neighborhood safer and we would make it cleaner and we have reached all of those,” Jaen said.
“This is what the BID does — we try to make it better for the community,” added Anthony Basso, the BID chairman.
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