Howard Beach community bands together to create ‘Holiday Lights on Cross Bay’ this year

Courtesy of Doreen DeCandia

The Howard Beach community came together this year to create “Holiday Lights on Cross Bay,” a dazzling display that will illuminate a long stretch of Cross Bay Boulevard from 156th Avenue to 165th Avenue, infusing the neighborhood with holiday cheer.

“The last time the community did holiday lighting was back in 2005,” Doreen DeCandia said. “Around holiday time you see holiday lights on Bell Boulevard, Jamaica Avenue and Union Turnpike and you think, why shouldn’t we have this in Howard Beach, too?”

So DeCandia, whose husband Joe DeCandia owns Lenny’s Clam Bar and Roma View Catering Hall in Howard Beach, joined Kelly Signaselli, Mary Griffith and and Camille Adamo formed a team to make the event happen. The four women walked up and down Cross Bay Boulevard eliciting support along the commercial corridor.

“Everyone loved the idea. More than 60 small businesses, big businesses, families and organizations either pledged or contributed their support for the holiday light display. Everyone is very excited,” DeCandia said. “We all worked very hard and those three ladies really put themselves out there and they enjoyed every minute.”

Most financial contributions ranged from $100 to $1,100 to pay for the decorations and the cost of installation and electricity. The names of each business that contributed will be posted on the fence next to the Starbucks located at 157-41 Cross Bay Boulevard. DeCandia noted that Starbucks was generously donating coffee to the workers who were installing the lights.

“This will be ready for Thanksgiving week but if it’s ready before that we’ll just light it up,” DeCandia said. “That could be as soon as the weekend. We’re not going to have a lighting ceremony, we just want to see how it goes.”

She added that in addition to the support from Our Lady of Grace Academy, which has been an integral part of the Howard Beach community for more than 95 years, the project also had the support of Councilman Eric Ulrich, the Queens Chamber of Commerce and the Kiwanis Club. It also drew support from businesses in nearby Lindenwood, Ozone Park and other neighborhoods.

“It’s a wonderful way to make the holiday season a little brighter and bring some cheer to the fantastic neighborhood we call home,” DeCandia said. “In a time where our culture and society is marred by criticism, skepticism, competition and negativity, this is a wonderful way to bring optimism, hope and positivity to our local community. After all, that’s what the holiday season is all about, and Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy is happy and honored to assist in bringing those spirits to Howard Beach.”