Flushing ushers in holidays

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The Flushing business community and political leadership joined hundreds of cheery residents Monday night to ring in the start of the holiday shopping season with the annual lighting of decorations on Roosevelt Street and a party at the LaGuardia East Sheraton.

The kick-off event, hosted by Macy’s department store and the Flushing Business Improvement District, was a chance to highlight the neighborhood’s commercial and cultural offerings, while providing fun and entertainment for children and families.

George Pimienta, who lives near Macy’s, where Santa Claus greeted children and elementary school kids sang Christmas carols following speeches by local leaders, brought his 6-year-old daughter, Isabella. She wore a pink jacket and clutched a matching pink balloon, to enjoy the festivities.

“We were walking home from the store and saw Santa was going to be here, so after she got done with her homework we came down and Santa was very nice,” he said. “It’s a really nice event.”

Minutes later, Santa Claus emerged from the department store, where he had been hearing the Christmas wishes of children for more than an hour. The sight of his bearded face elicited the exuberant cries of the children, who weathered a chilly drizzle on the street and politicians giving speeches for a glimpse of Kris Kringle.

“Merry Christmas! It’s so wonderful to be here in Flushing,” he said. “Are you excited to see the snowflake light up?”

He then counted down from 10 with the assistance of City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) and the lights over Roosevelt were brilliantly lit.

Mabel Law, executive director of the Flushing BID, explained the importance of the moment and the gathering.

“Ceremoniou­sly we light the lights to signify the holiday season,” she told the crowd. “It’s all about getting together and being thankful for everything we have.”

The young carolers, who attend the CPC Queens School Age Day Care Center at PS 20, sang Christmas favorites with altered lyrics, such as “Deck the halls with boughs of holly/’Tis the season to go shopping,” that reflected the focus on business and commercial activity that permeated much of the event.

But the attendees, many of whom hoofed it several blocks after the outdoor introduction festivities to the Sheraton for a buffet dinner, more speeches and a Santa’s workshop, seemed to enjoy getting back into the Christmas spirit as smiles graced nearly every face throughout the celebration.

Flushing resident Tay James, 11, said she had a great time watching Santa and soaking up the holiday feeling.

“ I like the holidays because you have a lot of fun, and you spend a lot of time with family, she said.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Updated 6:31 pm, October 10, 2011
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