By Tom Momberg
Bayside’s holiday festivities were scheduled to kick off this Saturday with the annual Children’s Holiday Parade down Bell Boulevard.
Sponsored by City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) and the Bayside Village Business Improvement District, the parade is bringing back Santa Claus for the second year. The event drew over a thousand people in 2014.
“After last year’s huge turnout, I am thrilled to announce that Santa has agreed to return as the guest of honor at our Children’s Holiday Parade,” Vallone said. “His presence will make the parade all the more special for children and their families.”
The parade itself has been established for well over a decade and continued by local leaders as a part of a legacy left by the late Bayside businessman, activist and volunteer Benjamin Fried.
The parade has always been centered on the children in the community who, along with their schools, sports leagues, community groups and families, march down Bell Boulevard every year.
The parade is slated to begin at 3:30 p.m. on Bell Boulevard and 36th Avenue and head south to 41st Avenue, where youth groups will perform holiday music and elected officials will hold the annual holiday lighting ceremony.
Santa’s return for the parade and following ceremony caught the attention of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which had to make special arrangements to ensure a safe flight and arrival.
“The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is happy to announce that we have been in contact with Elf Air Traffic Control at the North Pole and have ensured that Santa Claus will have complete flight clearance for his arrival in Bayside on Dec. 5,” Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye said in a statement.
The Bayside Hills Civic Association is also gearing up for the holidays, having scheduled its annual lighting festival on Sunday at 5 p.m., when Santa is slated to make another appearance.
The festival is scheduled to take place in front of the shopping centers on Bell Boulevard and 53rd Avenue, where elected officials are invited to host the festivities along with Monsignor Martin Geraghty of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish and Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin of the Israel Center of Conservative Judaism.
St. Robert’s Parish folk singers, PS 203’s second-grade chorus and the school’s “Les Chanteurs” music group will sing Hanukkah songs and Christmas carols as members of the Bayside Hills civic trim and light Bell Boulevard’s holiday tree.
The Chabad of Northeast Queens is hosting the annual Bay Terrace Menorah lighting Sunday at 6 p.m. on the upper level of the shopping center. Donuts, latkes and refreshments are being made available afterward.
Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomb