What began on November 1 with a crew of 64 volunteers culminated with a countdown on Sunday night, December 6 – and the awed gasps of 2,800 spectators as the Mure residence was lit up for a good cause.
Tony Sirico, a.k.a. “Paulie Walnuts” from “The Sopranos,” hit the switch to “The Little North Pole,” located at 144-03 Neponsit Avenue in Neponsit Beach.
“We light ‘The Little North Pole’ for two reasons,” said Joe Mure. “First, we hope to put a smile on every child’s face and give them a memory of Christmas that we hope will last all their lives; and secondly, we hope to help this special group of children.”
One-hundred percent of Mure’s annual tradition benefits the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and children’s diabetes centers.
With live entertainment – including emcee Goomba Johnny from WKTU, Angelo Venuto and his daughter Alexa, Tony Sirico, Judy Torres, Kevin Covias of “American Idol,” dancers from Howard Beach’s Fazio Dance Studio and others – the evening also featured toys, drinks and food – and, best of all, Santa Claus, who rode in on a fire truck.
Barbara Braskey has been taking five-year-old Makayla and two-year-old Jack to the lighting for the last four years.
“My kids love it,” she said of the ceremony, which has become somewhat of a tradition for the family.
This year, Mure raffled off a brand new Mustang convertible – with all proceeds going to charity. Mure told The Courier that, despite the economy, this year was shaping up to be the best ever.
“We raised over $100,000 the past five years,” he said. “Despite the economy this will probably be our best year.”
In addition to all the good-hearted donations and the contributions of numerous businesses, including Ragtime, Lenny’s Clam Bar and others, Mure was presented with a check for $15,000 in honor of Don Hart, a long-time volunteer who passed away last year.
“It seemed like everyone was enjoying themselves,” said Mure. “The kids get a major kick out of it and the parents enjoy it too. The people in the neighborhood pull together and everyone that stops puts money in the donation box.”
Mure continued the spirit of the season with a Special Olympic Christmas party on Monday, December 7 and by hosting hundreds of children with autism on Tuesday, December 8.
Additionally, there is a “Santa mailbox” so that Mure can help fulfill the wishes of children in need.
Mure will have his house lit – and the donation box out front – through New Year’s Day, so there is still plenty of time to give to a good cause.