By Madina Toure
Despite pouring rain, City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), Santa Claus and members of the Flushing Business Improvement District kicked off the holiday shopping season with Macy’s Flushing at the 12th annual holiday lighting ceremony late Monday afternoon.
“For the Chinese, there is a saying that water is well, so I’m thinking this is an auspicious sign for our Flushing community and especially our Flushing businesses,” said Tina Lee, co-chairwoman of the Downtown Flushing Transit Hub Business Improvement District. “So remember during the holiday season to shop local and take advantage of the wonderful restaurants right here in downtown Flushing.”
This year’s theme was “Lighting the Lights.” The ceremony included snowflake streamers and season’s greetings. There are also “Welcome to Flushing BID” signs at two gateways into the district. Koo and Santa Claus performed a countdown before officially lighting a large 3D snowflake centerpiece.
The lights will stay up from Thanksgiving through the end of the Lunar New Year, which is on Feb. 19, to represent the diverse holidays and extended shopping season in Flushing.
“It gives a chance for the community, the kids, the parents, to get together and celebrate the holiday, to welcome the Thanksgiving season,” Koo said. “We use the occasion to thank everyone in our community for doing a good job, keeping our community safe.”
Children from the Chinatown Planning Council Day Care Program and the James A. Bland Houses in Flushing also participated in the ceremony. State Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), state Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) and Thomas Conforti, NYPD captain for the 109th Precinct, participated as well.
Every year, Flushing BID kicks off the holiday and shopping season in Flushing the Monday before Thanksgiving by hosting the holiday lighting ceremony in conjunction with Macy’s Flushing.
The ceremony was followed by an invitation-only community holiday party, held at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel’s Phoenix Ballroom on 135-20 39th Ave. in Flushing. Sheraton LaGuardia is the party’s sponsor.
Flushing resident Vanessa Garcia, 42, attended the lighting ceremony for the first time with her 3-year-old daughter, Savahna. Although the ceremony was short, she said, she enjoyed the Christmas carols and the lighting of the snowflake.
“It was nice, and my daughter loved it,” Garcia said. “She saw Santa Claus, and they did face painting for the kids on the fourth floor before the ceremony.”
Annie Wu, 40, also a Flushing resident, who is a market segment manager for EmblemHealth, started attending the ceremony last year. EmblemHealth is a sponsor of the ceremony.
“We know that this community is a very diversified population, it’s got all different people, so we want to come and support the community,” Wu said.
Macy’s Flushing will be opening at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day for the first time. On Tuesday, the store kicked off its holiday season with its biggest one-day sale, and sales managers gave out 25 percent off coupons.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.