Two dozen classic cars decked out in Christmas gear drove around Glendale on Sunday, Dec. 13, to spread some socially distant cheer.
The Glendale-based East Coast Car Association and the Glendale Kiwanis Club brought together car enthusiasts at the Shops at Atlas Park for a first-of-its-kind car holiday parade.
Michael Bilski, the public affairs director of East Coast Car Association, dressed up as Santa Claus and his wife, Sandy, as Mrs. Claus. They led the caravan on their decorated 1966 Mercury Comet.
“The people that showed up at Atlas Park were so respectful, wore their masks and social distanced,” Bilski wrote in a thank-you post on Facebook. “It is amazing what can be done during these dark times when we come together as a community.”
The caravan passed by parts of Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and Ridgewood.
This isn’t the first time Bilski drove around with his Mercury — on Halloween he decorated it with skeletons and on Easter he dressed up as the Easter Bunny. The community knows him for leading cruise nights, car shows and other events with the East Coast Car Association, a nonprofit to benefit St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Bayside.
According to Steve Hansen, president of the Glendale Kiwanis Club, they’ve received nothing but gratitude from community members.
“We brought some normalcy to the neighborhood,” said Hansen. “The look on kids faces was absolutely phenomenal. It brought smiles even to the parents’ faces.”
Hansen and Bilski said they were advised not to advertise the event, due to current COVID-19 restrictions.
During the ride, they kept socially distant while people watched and waved from afar. Bilski reminisced about how in years prior, he’d buy thousands of candy canes, drive in different neighborhoods as Santa Claus and give kids with their parents the candy.
“We gotta adapt to the changing times,” he said, adding that kids still need some kind of entertainment and fun.
The event showcases one of the ways people in Queens are finding creative ways to celebrate the holiday season as a community.
“It looks like these parades are going to start to become a tradition,” said Bilski. “Everything is for the children and the community. Bringing a smile to at least one child and allowing them to dream, that’s all that matters.”
Councilman Robert Holden applauded the event and organizers.
“Thanks to the Kiwanis Club of Glendale, East Coast Car Association, those who participated, and especially to Glendale’s very own Santa, Michael Bilski!” he wrote on a Facebook post.