By Madina Toure
More than 1,000 parents, children, elected officials, teachers, residents and school administrators came out for the second annual Bayside Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony on Saturday.
Sponsored by City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) and the Bayside Village Business Improvement District, the parade ran from Bell Boulevard and 36th Avenue to the Bayside LIRR station and concluded with the lighting of both a Christmas tree and a menorah.
Santa Claus appeared, as he did at last year’s parade, and students from PS 31, St. Andrew’s, PS 169, Bell Academy and the Landrum School of Performing Arts in Whitestone performed. The NYPD’s marching band performed during the parade as well.
Parade participants also included U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside), the New York Cosmos and the Auburndale Soccer Club.
“It is the hub of our community and we want to do this parade so you don’t have to go up to Manhattan to shop,” Vallone said about Bell Boulevard.
Lyle Sclair, the Bayside Village BID’s executive director, said the BID partners on holiday lighting around the Bayside LIRR station with the Bayside Business Association, which has been donating the menorah and the manger for the last 15 years. Bayside Milk Farm, Martha’s Country Bakery and Teaspoon Bakery donated pastries for the tree lighting ceremony.
“I want to thank everyone for coming out, showing support for what we’re doing here on Bell Boulevard,” he said.
He also said people living in the 11361 zipcode will be receiving coupon books for the holidays from businesses on Bell Boulevard, funded through money allocated by Vallone.
Braunstein said that in a big city like New York, Bayside can still feel like a small town due to events such as the parade and tree lighting.
“My son Charlie, he’s 3 months old, so he can’t really appreciate this yet, so Paul’s going to have to do this next year and the year after that and the year after that,” Braunstein said.
Meng reminded attendees that they are fortunate to be able to celebrate the holidays with their families.
“There are lots of people around the world who are working very hard — our servicemen and women — to protect us every single day,” she said. “And they can’t be with their families necessarily, so we’re very lucky that we get to be here today and be part of this wonderful celebration.”
Borough President Melinda Katz said the holidays are a time for everyone to come together.
“To our families, we wish you a very, very special time this year. We love families and our closeness,” Katz said.
Public Advocate Letitia James encouraged people to enjoy the holidays and to remember to give back.
“It’s a holiday season and it’s time to be with the people who we love and to give,” James said.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour