Community members and elected officials gathered at Astoria Park to celebrate the ninth annual Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting Celebration on Sunday, Dec. 5.
More than 100 people gathered on the great lawn at Astoria Park to watch musical performances while they waited for the sun to set and the Christmas tree lights to flicker on.
Kicking off the festivities was Academia de Mariachi Nuevo Amanecer.
Following their set, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and Senator Chuck Schumer came on stage to say a few words to the crowd.
Richards said that although it’s been a rough 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, “it feels good to be outside, doing this not on Zoom.”
Richards also noted that Queens leads New York City in vaccinations, with over 1.7 million residents vaccinated to date. He went on to encourage people to get vaccinated and get their booster shot.
“I really urge everyone to do that so we can continue to enjoy these festivities,” Richards said.
Schumer said Astoria and Queens “represent the best of America” during his speech.
“Some people have lived here for so many generations, others are new immigrants, but we welcome everybody,” Schumer said. “We say everybody should have a chance. We say everybody should be able to live the American Dream and create a better life for themselves and a better life for their children. That’s what Queens has always been about. That’s what Astoria, generation after generation, has always been about.”
Laurie Anne Creus from Music For Aardvarks then took the stage with music for children to enjoy.
More local lawmakers took the stage, including newly sworn-in Councilwoman Tiffany Cabán, Assemblyman Zohran Mamdani and former Councilman Costa Constantinides, who thanked the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition for putting together the event year after year.
Christmas Matters Holiday Carolers sang carols as the sun set, and then it was time to light the tree.