Tree lighting brings Greenwich together for the holiday season

As the Greenwich High School Chamber Singers sang in the moment, the lights were turned on for the tree outside Town Hall. –Ken Borsuk

As the Greenwich High School Chamber Singers sang in the moment, the lights were turned on for the tree outside Town Hall. –Ken Borsuk

Greenwich’s holiday season is now officially under way, with the brightly decorated tree outside Town Hall providing a centerpiece for the town’s good cheer.

Dozens of residents attended the Department of Parks and Recreation’s tree-lighting ceremony on Friday, enjoying food, entertainment and the warm spirit that fills this increasingly cold season. While initially the tree was accidentally lit before First Selectman Peter Tesei could begin the countdown and on the second attempt it didn’t light at all, the third time was the charm to the sound of loud cheers from the crowd.

The Greenwich High School Chamber Singers were on hand, singing a number of holiday favorites as families gathered outside Town Hall. Children were treated with mechanical reindeer and polar bear rides, and treats handed out by volunteers dressed as Frosty the Snowman, reindeer and Santa’s elves. St. Nick made quite the entrance, escorted by Greenwich firefighters. A chorus of cheers welcomed Santa as he made his way through the crowd, delivering candy and well wishes to Greenwich’s youth and their families.

Newly elected state Rep. Mike Bocchino (R-150th) was there for the festivities with his family, and commented on the significance of the tree-lighting ceremony.

“It’s incredibly important; the holiday season really brings the community together and really shows how wonderful the town of Greenwich is, and how supportive everyone is of one another at this time,” he said.

Among the crowd were a number of young Greenwich parents enjoying their first holiday season here. Though some parents had simply happened upon the event by chance, others were excited for the opportunity to celebrate the opening of the holiday season with the rest of the community. Jessica Magadlinas told the Post that she is constantly on the lookout for new activities for her one-year-old, and was happy to see the impressive turnout at the tree lighting.

“This is Kennedy’s second Christmas. She’s very aware of all the fun activities and she knew Santa was coming, so she wanted to come celebrate,” Laura Cortese said as she held her daughter. “She wanted to check it out and see all the kids and the holiday spirit. Christmas is just around the corner, right?”

Friday’s tree lighting also gave residents an opportunity to spread their goodwill beyond Greenwich. Brooke Bohnsack helped organize a letter-writing campaign on behalf of the Connecticut chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. As a part of Macy’s Believe Campaign, the retailer will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish for every stamped letter addressed to Santa. Recognizing the opportunity to reach such a large group of “believers,” Ms. Bohnsack set up a table where children and adults could pen their own letters to Santa and contribute to a great cause.

Amidst the celebration, the letter writing campaign was just one of many reminders of the reason for the season. The event was the product of cooperation and caring between the town’s neighbors, and it showed. As the lighting got under way, Mr. Tesei urged everyone to continue being grateful for one another throughout the season.

“We certainly want to thank all the folks who are responsible for putting on today’s program, and also be thankful for all the blessings we have here,” Mr. Tesei told the crowd. “So thank you all for coming out today, godspeed to your families, and we look forward to a joyous holiday season here in the town of Greenwich.”

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