In a sure sign Christmas is just around the corner, the annual Westchester Square Business Improvement District Holiday Celebration will light up the night Friday, December 16 at Owen Dolen Park.
The event will run from 5 to 8 p.m. at the park, located at 2551 Westchester Square.
Celebrants can take part in the community tree lighting, take pictures with Santa Claus in his village and listen to yuletide carolers perform holiday favorites.
There will also be gifts for children 12 and under while supply lasts.
This year’s event is later than usual because they had to work around Santa’s busy schedule, said BID executive director Lisa Sorin.
“The Santa we feature is the only one we like to use, because his name is actually legally Santa Claus,” Sorin said. “We call him the real Santa Claus, and Westchester Square is privileged to have him.”
The BID supplies 400 toys, hot chocolate and cider, as well as holiday music and music for the children to dance to.
“It’s truly about bringing out the family and letting them enjoy the holiday season,” she said. “Sometimes we lose focus of the fact that this is truly a small village, a community – so when these events happen, it showcases the residents and businesses that are here for the families.”
The holiday event has for many years been a partnership with the NYC Parks Department, who organize a group of carolers featuring children from the after school programs at the Owen Dolen Recreation Center.
“The children come out beautifully dressed as old school carolers and they go from store to store. We love to make sure the merchants who can’t get to the tree lighting also get to enjoy the celebration,” she said.
The partnership with Owen Dolen begins on Thanksgiving, when the Westchester Square BID provides food for the staff to prepare for 300-plus local residents.
“It’s the volunteers and families from the Parks Department who cook it and serve it the day of, so Parks has always been a strong partner for us,” Sorin asid.
She also credited Councilman James Vacca with helping the BID host the holiday celebration and various holiday events.
“Councilman Vacca has supported us from the very beginning, and he provides funds that help us run our summer concerts and our Halloween event, which this year hosted close to 2,000 people,” Sorin said. “His office is all about family.”
As for businesses the BID represents, Sorin said the economy seems to have picked up in recent months.
She said foot traffic is up, according to business owners she has spoken to.
Shopping local seems to be making a comeback, she said.
“I want to believe that consumers who shop in the area feel like going back to old-school shopping where you know your cashier and store manager,” she said. “It’s a good feeling.”