Glendale holiday celebration also pays tribute to a local firefighter’s ultimate sacrifice

Photos courtesy of Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley

For years, Glendale residents and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley have celebrated the holidays with a tree lighting at Fred Haller Triangle — but this year’s occasion was bittersweet.

Under snowy skies on Dec. 9, Crowley and members of the Ridgewood-Glendale-Middle Village Lions Club were joined by members of Engine Company 286/Ladder Company 135 to pay special honor to the late firefighter William Tolley. The longtime veteran of the Myrtle Avenue firehouse known as “Myrtle’s Turtles” died in April while responding to a fire in Ridgewood.

During Saturday’s tree lighting ceremony, Crowley, Tolley’s family and FDNY members unveiled “Tolley’s Tree,” a new, brightly decorated Christmas tree to replace the one that used to stand at the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Union Turnpike every year. The tree is accompanied by a memorial stone bearing Tolley’s name and image.

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“Every year, this tree lighting is incredibly special. But this year held extra meaning,” Crowley said. “Firefighter Tolley dedicated his life to protecting this community, and so it’s only right that we dedicate this to him. My deepest thanks to the Fire Department, firefighter Tolley’s family, and everyone who makes this ceremony so wonderful each holiday season.”

Students from nearby P.S. 113, as they do every year, donated decorations for the tree. The school’s Glee Club also sang traditional holiday sons and carols. Members of the Queens Dance Academy also performed, and Santa Claus himself stopped by to greet local children.

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