‘We will always welcome the spirit of the holidays’: Annual tree lighting ceremony at Astoria’s Athens Square Park to include Christmas parade

Local Astoria community members and businesses held the second annual Christmas tree lighting in Athens Square Park on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

Astoria’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 1, will, for the first time, also include a parade.

The parade will begin at 6 p.m. at 49th Street and 30th Avenue, with revelers marching southwest along 30th Avenue to 30th Street, where the tree lighting will begin at 7 p.m. at Athens Square Park. The parade will include horse carriages, two horse wagons for children, celebrity guests and a special appearance from Santa Claus.

Founders of the tree lighting, Gus Lambropoulos and wife Maria, wanted to bring some light into the community at the height of COVID-19 in 2020.

“Everything looked doom and gloom and we felt that by putting this tree it would not only lift the spirits of people when they were down, but to give them a sense of hope,” Gus Lambropoulos said. “There is a brighter side to this, and putting a star in our community just illuminates how communities can really get together.”

With the help of Egan Tree Farm, this year’s tree will stand at an astounding 43-feet and use more than 5,000 lights. As the city’s second largest tree after Rockefeller Center, it takes a neighborhood effort to assemble everything, from installation to decorating.

(Photo by Paul Frangipane)

Lambropoulos wants to reminisce about old times, considering the previous sighting of horse carriages dates back to 1901. He told QNS he projects more than 4,000 attendees, a four-times rise from last year.

Being one Subway stop away from the city, Lambropoulos hopes the tree lighting brings attention to Astoria and guests will explore the diverse findings after the festivities in the area.

“We got great food, we got great dining,” he said. “Now we have hotels that are building up in Astoria.”

“We’re closing the heart of Astoria down,” Lambropoulos said. “So we can welcome this parade that will welcome the tree lighting and bring our beautiful Santa coming down the avenue to Athens Square Park.”

Children sing along to Christmas songs at the second annual Christmas tree lighting in Athens Square Park in Astoria on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

Lambropoulos anticipates proposing a seasonal ice skating rink to NYC Parks, where the basketball ring, is in addition to the other holiday festivities. He wants to create the full Winter Wonderland experience in the heart of Astoria, so residents won’t have to travel to the city.

“Tree lighting brings unity, this whole spirit of holiday brings unity. And that to me is the most important thing: unity,” Lambropoulos said.

Additional Sponsors include Elias Fillas & Family; Tonino Sacco & Family; Tonino Sacco & Family; Ari Tsataronis & Family; Luca Di Ciero & Family; Sacco & Faillas; New York Space Finders; Give Me Astoria; The L Group; and Athens Square Inc.

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