Do you see what I see? A brightly decorated Christmas tree on Rockaway Parkway, just outside the “L” train station. Yes. That’s right. On Monday, December 19th, the Rockaway Parkway Merchants Corridor Association Inc. (RPMCA) hosted a holiday concert, tree decorating and lighting festival on the corner of Rockaway Parkway and Glenwood Road.
And do you know what I know? It was a blustery, numbingly, cold evening but that did not deter guests from attending the event. Mark Caserta and Gabriel from the Brooklyn Chamber Of Commerce were on hand to flip the switch on the first, community Christmas tree to be lit on the Merchants Corridor. Staffers Sandy and Christine from State Senator Roxanne Persaud’s office, and Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse, greeted the crowd and extended wishes to them for a safe, happy and enjoyable holiday season.
Minister Dawn Baxter from the 69th Precinct Clergy Council blessed the event with a heartwarming prayer and thanked God for the opportunity “to come together and celebrate You within our community” after which a youth from Beraca Baptist Church read a scripture from Luke’s gospel.
Wait! Do you hear what I hear? Christmas carols! Several performers, including Dominique Smith and her band, entertained the crowd with yuletide singing. “Oh, Come All Ye Faithful” seemed an appropriate rendition considering the frigid weather. Teachers from P.S. 276 The Louis Marshall School smiled as a group of their young students jingled a little more than the tiny bells attached to their hats, completely oblivious, it seemed, of the temperature.
Asha, proprietor of Acts of Random Kindness, a pop-up shop on the corridor, gave away gift-wrapped books, in support of a literacy program that RPMCA promotes. John Rodriguez and Leo Sclavos, two Vietnam vets, Special Forces, who also vend on the corridor, donated over 200 pieces of warm weather accessories for children. “If everyone helped a little, it would be a better world,” Sclavos pointed out.
Norine Medas, executive director of RPMCA, expressed her delight at the community’s response to supporting local businesses. “We’ve been encouraging the community to stay local, dine local and shop local, and because you guys have been doing such an amazing job, we have been giving back and changing the experience here along the corridor,” Medas stated gleefully.
In addition to the music and carol singing, guests were treated to an assortment of snacks that were reflective of the diverse community. There were French biscotti and Pizzelle, Jewish coconut macaroons and hamantaschen cookies, West Indian groundnut sugar cake, tamarind balls and even sugarcane. An assortment of refreshments, including eggnog, apple cider, coconut water, mauby, sorrel and ginger beer, were also served.
Medas expressed thanks to Millennium Development for providing access to sound, LEAD*INT for preparing and donating the homemade beverages and all the other generous supporters who made the inaugural tree-lighting event possible.