By Juan Soto
Hundreds of Bayside children and neighbors took over Bell Boulevard’s roadway and sidewalks on a cold evening Sunday. There were no cars allowed on the busy commercial strip, at least for a while.
They all participated in the first children’s holiday parade held in Bayside in 10 years.
“We did great,” said City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) after the crowd gathered at the LIRR station to see a few performances and the official Christmas tree lighting. “This was the first children’s parade in Bell Boulevard since 2004 and each year we are going to get bigger and bigger.”
The Bayside-Whitestone Lions Club and volunteers from the Holy Cross High Schools tried to keep the crowd warm by treating the paradegoers with hot chocolate and hot dogs.
The traditional parade was headed by the NYPD Marching Band, followed immediately by the Queens Dance Project. There were also students from the St. Andrew Avellino School Chorus and the Landrum School of Performing Arts.
Also joining the march, organized by Vallone’s office and the Bayside Village Business Improvement District, there were the Manna Church Korean School, the Korean American Parent Association of Greater New York, the Korean American Association, the Korean American Association of Queens, the Auburndale Soccer Club, PS 169 and Bell Academy Schools, the Alley Pond Environmental Center, Baybridge Optical of Bayside, the 111th Precinct Community Council and Explorers, the Whitepoint Youth Football Team, PS 79, the NYPD Ceremonial Unit and St. Mary’s Hospital for Children. Closing the parade was a Fire Department float featuring, of course, Santa Clause.
The only cars allowed on Bell Boulevard were the restored classic vehicles that took part in the march.
In Flushing, dozens of kids celebrated the winter solstice and the tree lighting ceremony at the Queens Botanical Garden Sunday.
The children took a tour of the garden, during which they learned about some of the plants at the living museum.
“They are very curious and interested,” said Neera Bhamlon, a botanist and educator at the Botanical Garden, which also got into the holiday spirit.
The pleasant afternoon also included a botanical craft seminar and activities, as well as a concert right before the official Christmas tree lighting by the Rough Dozen accappella group.
Santa Clause greeted children at the Botanical Garden and took pictures with the kids.
And on Wednesday, the nonprofit organization Community Mayors, Inc. hosted Operation Santa Claus at JFK. State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayisde) joined the welcoming committee.
Thousands of physically and mentally handicapped children watched Santa Claus arrive in a Delta Air Lines shuttle. The kids then received toys in one of the airport’s hangar.
Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 260–4564.