Editor’s Note: This article was written and submitted by Chris Boyle.
Merrick came out last weekend to usher in the holiday season in an extravagant annual event that always lights up the community.
Hosted at the site of the Merrick gazebo, which is located next to the Long Island Rail Road station, Chamber president Randy Shotland said that the act of lighting the Christmas Tree and Menorah is an important a tradition in the Merricks that he was pleased to be a part of. Like Merrick Patch on Facebook by clicking here.
“The Merrick Chamber of Commerce is very proud to have done this for years,” Shotland said. “The Chamber tries to do a lot for our community. Merrick is a unique community, and a lot of people have helped each other. I’m very proud of the community because, with Hurricane Sandy, everybody stuck together. Someone took me into their home, a lot of people took other people into their homes. It was a wonderful thing how everyone got together to help each other.”
The ceremony was kicked off by the singing of Christmas carols by Merrick Girl Scouts and students of the Rising Stars Performing Arts Center, after which several local dignitaries spoke about the importance of the holidays. Among them was Assemblyman David DcDonough, R-Merrick, who asked residents to assist those less fortunate this holiday season.
“I want to wish everyone Happy Holidays,” McDonough said. “Five weeks ago today, we didn’t know what was going to hit us, but we found out...and it hit us hard. And it’s not over yet, but while most of us have our power back, there are a lot of people who don’t. There are a lot of people, especially in the southern part of Merrick, who don’t have a home. So, I urge you not to forget those people, and to reach out and see what you can do to help them.”
Legis. David Denenberg, D-Merrick, spoke on the Jewish Festival of Lights represented by the lighting of the Menorah, and how it relates to the strength of the post-Sandy Merrick community.
“Hanukkah is holiday about miracles,” Denenberg said. “What we’ve seen over the last five weeks is a whole community working together to create our own Merrick miracle. We’re not there yet, but Merrick has emerged from Sandy stronger than ever before, and that will be our local miracle. Hanukkah celebrates a miracle that happened a long time ago, but we also pray and celebrate the miracles of today.”
After the speeches were done, the crowd of hundreds counted down the lighting of the Christmas Tree and Menorah in unison.
Beth Markstrom always makes a point of attending the Chamber’s Holiday Lighting Ceremony and said that this one was, because of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, perhaps the most poignant one yet.
“It really says to me that we, as a community, can pull through anything if we just stick together,” Markstrom said. “That’s what I always tell my kids, and this perfectly illustrated that fact for them.”What did you think of the holiday lighting ceremony? Tell us in the comments below.
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