By Erin Hoeler
Looking for a new holiday tradition that the whole family can enjoy? Every year, the Holtsville Ecology Site transforms the main entrance leading to the zoo into a winter wonderland. On Dec. 10, the ecology site hosted the Town of Brookhaven’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony.
As visitors walked through the decorated area, they were welcomed with hundreds of lights and a beautiful Christmas tree ready to be lit. Sponsors of the event such as WALK 97.5, WBAB 102.3, My Country 96.1 gave guests the opportunities to win prizes, while restaurants such as Moe’s Southwest Grill and Texas Roadhouse gave chances for free food.
When people entered the Harold H. Malkmes Wildlife Education and Ecology Center, they were greeted with lights and garlands swirled around the entranceway and the room. Many used this area to take festive family photos to use for their holiday cards.
“I’m joined with Councilman Kevin LaValle [R-Selden], and we are all here with one thing — to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas, a happy holiday and celebrate despite the pandemic and this virus,” said town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R). “We’re still here and we’re still going strong — and we’re going to have a great Christmas.”
Prior to the anticipated tree lighting, children were greeted by characters including Frosty the Snowman, Chase from “Paw Patrol,” Olaf from “Frozen,” and Mickey and Minnie Mouse with whom they could take pictures with. Vendors sold light-up swords and lightsabers for kids to enjoy and play with while they awaited the arrival of the guest of honor: Santa Claus.
The ecology site welcomed dancers from Michelle Ferraro’s Dance USA and Inishfree School of Irish Dance to the stage to help get the crowd ready for Santa’s big helicopter entrance. For musical pleasure, Laura Lorenzo sang “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and encouraged the audience to sing along.
“Every year, Peter Boardman donates his helicopter to go up to the North Pole, pick up Santa and bring him back here,” said Dan Losquadro (R), town superintendent of highways. “You want to know why? Because we don’t want the reindeer to get tired.”
Santa’s helicopter circled above the crowd many times, getting the children excited for his grand entrance. He later arrived on his sleigh accompanied by the Holtsville Fire Department with many lights and sirens. Then it was time to light the big tree.
At the closing of the event, LaValle added, “It’s great to be back, like the supervisor said. I want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Be safe and enjoy the time with your family.”