Waterbury LaSalle Community Association, Pelham Bay merchants holds Christmas tree lightings on Sunday, December 11

Two organizations in neighboring communities are planning tree lightings to speed holiday cheer.

Both the Pelham Bay Merchants Association and the Waterbury-LaSalle Community Association will hold separate Christmas tree events on Sunday, December 11.

The PBMA event, held at Keane Square Park, will take place from noon to about 5 p.m., said Irene Guanill, volunteer and PBMA president.

Youngsters will bring their own ornaments, either store bought or homemade, to the tree; it will be decorated by community members and families and then lit, said Guanill.

The event, which is in its fourth year, was so beloved by the community that they rallied together to make it happen again this year when it seemed like it might fall by the wayside, she said. It is an especially joyous event for children, she added.

“Your child will come with an ornament and then your child will put that ornament on the tree (during decorating),” said Guanill, adding “I find that it brings the community together because here we are putting up a Christmas Tree…and you have your neighbors helping you.”

The children participating often get into the spirit by spending a long time making ornaments by hand, and then visit the community’s tree to see their work on display while it remains in the park for the holiday season, said Guanill.

Over at Waterbury-LaSalle’s Schneider Sampson Square, the WLCA will hold its holiday event at 6:30 p.m., also on Sunday.

Their holiday celebration has become a staple of that community for nearly two decades, according to organization board members.

The event is designed to be something of a “country Christmas,” said Mary Jane Musano, WLCA board member.

Typically, a crowd gathers at the park, and Santa Claus arrives to greet the children on a horse-drawn carriage that’s courtesy of Chateau Stables, said Musano.

Once Santa arrives, the donated tree will be lit in the park, she said.

Then children will have the chance to tell Santa their holiday wishes and receive a gift, she said.

The event draws families not just from Waterbury-LaSalle, but from nearby communities, said Musano.

But the tree lighting is not just for children, said added.

“We encourage everyone to come out to this event,” said Musano. “It is a chance to talk to your neighbors and wish everybody happy holidays, and the kids get something special.”

The event is a real community effort, and everyone seems to want to chip in a bit to make it a success, said Musano.

Senator Jeff Klein has attended the event year after year, said Andrew Chirico, WLCA board member, adding that there is typically holiday music and food.

One of the adults looking forward to the tree lighting is Annie Boller, a WLCA board member.

She said she enjoys dressing as an elf to spread holiday cheer during the Schneider Sampson Park ceremony.

“The children love the event: they are there lined up way before our start time,” she said, adding, “The smiles on their faces are awesome.”

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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