Tag Archives: christmas

The Courier, Queens Chamber of Commerce & Russo’s on the Bay team up to make Christmas bright for kids


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

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Under the sparkling chandeliers and twinkling Christmas lights, seventh grader Maddie McDade smiled brightly.

The St. Francis de Sales student’s Belle Harbor home burned down during Superstorm Sandy, leaving her and her family displaced to parts of Long Island and Brooklyn just weeks before the holidays. She, and students from five south Queens schools, attended a holiday celebration at Russo’s on the Bay on Tuesday, December 18, hosted by The Queens Courier and the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re all getting together and I’m excited to see everyone,” said Maddie. “And it’s a nice celebration we’re having after everything and everyone being sad. It kind of brings everything up.”

Over 1,000 students in kindergarten through eighth grade gathered at the event hall for lunch, music, entertainment and gifts. Jugglers and magicians travelled from table to table, showing off their skills to students whose mouths dropped to the floor. Nick the Baloonatic – a renowned balloon artist – created swords, hats and animals out of colorful rubber and thin air for the amazed guests. Even Santa was present, making his grand entrance to the sounds of delighted screams and cheers. Students clamored up to Saint Nick’s gilded throne, posing for pictures with the man in red.

Click here to see all the photos from the event

“For us, this was just a simple way to bring joy to children at this time who really, truly need it,” said Russo’s on the Bay owner Frank Russo Jr.

Jack Friedman, Executive Director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, couldn’t have been happier to provide such a wonderful experience for children who have experience such tragedy. The Queens Chamber of Commerce Foundation provided essential funding to give each child a gift at the end of the celebration.

“Many of [the children] lost homes, personal possessions, many were displaced or had no electricity for weeks,” said Friedman. “The impact on children, the stress on children is something that’s rarely looked at, so to put a smile on children’s faces today is just a great, wonderful thing. These children missed out on Halloween so we’re going to make sure they have a merry Christmas.”

Callie Todd, a 3rd grader at St. Rose of Lima, is finally back in her Breezy Point home after the storm. The spirited amateur equestrian hopes to get the American Girl horseback riding set for Christmas, but is just ecstatic to be home again with all her toys.

Kindergartner John Anthony Grimes from Ave Maria Catholic Academy was excited for the day’s activities and to meet Santa Claus. After staying in his grandparents’ house for several weeks after the storm, he said he couldn’t wait for Christmas, and hoped to find a toy dirt bike under the tree.

Theresa Andersen, principal of St. Rose of Lima, said the school has continued to carry on holiday festivities, despite the tragic events of Sandy. She thanked Frank Russo Jr. for his immense kindness, stating that the school even switched the date of their Christmas show so children would not miss out on the party.

“This is a wonderful thing that [Russo] didn’t have to do, but he did it from the heart, and the children were so excited,” said Andersen.

Other volunteers who made this event possible were Archbishop Molloy High School Student Volunteers, Consolidated Bus Transit, Inc., Flowers by Brian, Danielle Michaels of Adrenaline Entertainment, Nick the Balloonatic, Magician Lou Johnson, Jack Lasala of Satisfaction Guaranteed DJs, Nicky Guida of 2+2 DJs, Steven Retas of Classie Sounds, Artie D’Alessio, Dan Drennan, Robert Castellano, Scott Nastro, Julian Nardulli of Express It Video, Susan McVea, Party City in Bayside, Mullen Advertising Agency, Lois Christie and the staff of Christie & Co. Salon * Spa, New York Hospital Queens, John and Colette Roe, the Jamaica Rotary, Dr. Mary Andrea, Benefits Advisory Group, All Car Rental Car, Rego Park Forest Hills Kiwanis, the Giving Tree Family, the New York Daily News, and Heskel and Janet Elias and American Car Wash.

- Additional reporting by Terence M. Cullen

Tradition makes the holidays bright for kids


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

“I love seeing Santa!” said Natasha Ayala, a student at the Queens Centers for Progress (QCP), as she pet her new stuffed dog. “I have my own dog at home, too.”

Last week, the Jamaica Rotary made its yearly donation of hundreds of toys to QCP as dozens of excited children eagerly opened their presents.

“The children really look forward to it every year,” said Maryann McAleer of QCP.

Roughly 250 toys were delivered this year to children with developmental disabilities, including cerebral palsy.

Santa Claus and a snowman went class-to-class, delivering Barbie dolls and toy trucks to bright-eyed kids.

The Jamaica Rotary has been making this its holiday tradition for the past 12 years, and each year is just as exciting as the last.

“It’s a joyous day for them, they love it,” said McAleer of the students. “The Jamaica Rotary Club makes these children extremely happy.”

Holiday houses of Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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Every December, Queens residents make their way to their attic to take down boxes of decorations. You can drive through almost any neighborhood in the borough and find a bevy of houses lit up with holiday lights and cheer. Check out our gallery of some of the best decorated houses the borough has to offer and upload any houses you think deserves recognition this holiday season.

Click here to see our gallery of holiday houses throughout the borough. 

Help us bring Christmas to those affected by Sandy


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Our borough is still reeling from the effects of Superstorm Sandy – but The Queens Courier is determined to not let her be “the Grinch that stole Christmas.”

That’s why we are asking you, our readers and advertisers, to help us collect toys and clothes for the children hardest hit by Sandy – those in Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach, Breezy Point, Belle Harbor, the Rockaways and Broad Channel.

Simply drop off a new, unwrapped present to our offices, at 38-15 Bell Boulevard in Bayside. We will collect, wrap and “Santa” will deliver the gifts. In addition, we are planning more holiday surprises for the kids . . . keep reading The Queens Courier in print and online at www.queenscourier.com to find out what we’re doing — and how you can help.

Respect Christmas


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

The recent decision by Pathmark to open 30 of its 47 stores on Long Island and in the five boroughs on Christmas is totally ridiculous. There is absolutely no reason to open these or any stores on Christmas Day.

The employees of these establishments have every right to spend the holiday with their families and friends. Why are businesses so money hungry that they need to stay open on Christmas? The big bosses of Pathmark certainly will not be working on Christmas, so why should they expect their employees to come to work on this very special day? Christmas is a time to be with family and friends and to celebrate the birth of Christ. All stores should be closed on Christmas. Do not shop on Christmas Day.

 

John Amato

Fresh Meadows

Tower trees lit to kick off holiday season


| photographers@queenscourier.com

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The night before Thanksgiving, North Shore Towers started to show its holiday cheer with a tree lighting event sponsored by Greenthal Property Sales.

In addition to lighting the outdoor lights, residents enjoyed refreshments and took part in some holiday karaoke.

To view more photos, see the North Shore Towers Courier’s December issue.

Santas streak through Astoria


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

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Ever wonder what Santa is wearing under his suit?

Residents of Astoria discovered the Christmas secret on December 3, when more than 100 streaking Santas raced around the neighborhood. The second annual Santa Streak, organized by Ran Craycraft, founder of the blog whyleaveastoria.com, was held this past weekend in order to gather coats for donation to New York Cares. The event, which began at Hellgate on the Park for a pre-streak party, lasted from noon to 4 p.m.

“This is a fun event that gets peoples’ attention and helps the less fortunate stay warm whenever it gets cold this winter,” said Craycraft, an Astoria resident. “We are big fans of New York Cares and we have done this event for two years now, but we’ve also had other coat drives. Three years ago we got about five coats, and now that we are doing something more risqué, we got about 200 coats this year. So this is a good way to get some attention and get more coats for the needy.”

Once the Santas were ready to brave the cold, the holiday mob marched around Astoria, visiting sections of Shore Drive and Ditmars and Astoria boulevards. The run lasted roughly a mile, after which the jolly old Saint Nicks’ re-commenced their party at a local bar.

According to Craycraft, participants were creative in preparing for the streak, displaying a wide spectrum of costume themes, ranging from more conservative tutus and leotards to men who were topless or wearing Christmas thongs.

“I don’t think we have any choice but to do this again next year,” he said. “People really like it. We have a great turnout and it is for a wonderful cause. It would be irresponsible not to do it again.”

Local official team up to help during Holiday Toy, Coat and Food Drive


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Councilmember James Gennaro

A joint effort across eastern Queens is attempting to provide children and their families with warm bodies, full stomachs and plenty of presents to open on Christmas.

Councilmember James Gennaro united with New York Cares service events manager Joseph Salas, Marine Corps Staff Sergeants Daniel Sweeney and David Bonney of the Sixth Communications Battalion and other community leaders on December 2 to initiate his annual Holiday Toy, Coat and Food Drive.

“It seems like this is the least we can do, particularly when times are very tough,” said Gennaro, whose drive will last through December 16. “We feel the people who give get more out of it than those who receive.”

During the event, the Marines delivered collection boxes for their Toys for Tots program to the councilmember’s office, where coats are also being gathered for donation to New York Cares.

“I’d like to thank the councilmember for his continued support,” said Salas. “We have partnered with the councilmember for quite a few years and to see the continued support is inspiring.”

Food is also being collected at Gennaro’s office, located at 185-10 Union Turnpike in Fresh Meadows, for donation to St. Nicholas of Tolentine Roman Catholic Church in Jamaica and the Samuel Field Y in Little Neck.

“Even in these very difficult and challenging times, it’s very comforting and reassuring to know our community is a responsive, caring community and our elected officials take a role in making sure needs are met,” said Steven Goodman, executive vice president of the Samuel Field Y.

Along with Gennaro’s office, donations can also be made at Senator Toby Ann Stavisky’s office, located 144-36 Willets Point Boulevard in Flushing, Assemblymember Rory Lancman’s office, at 159-16 Union Turnpike in Hillcrest, or the headquarters of Community Board 8, located at 197-15 Hillside Avenue in Hollis.

Holiday Choral Concert by The Community Singers of Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

The Community Singers of Queens will be performing a holiday choral concert on December 17 beginning at 8 p.m. at the Church on the Hill, located at 167-07 35th Avenue in Flushing. The choir, which consists of 30 members, will perform a unique collection of Christmas and Hanukkah songs.
Tickets cost $10 and will be available for purchase at the Church on the Hill on December 17. For more information, visit http://www.csofq.org/.

Queens Center tree lighting kicks off Christmas season


| nkarimi@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Nargas Karimi.

Three . . . two. . . one. . . holiday lights!

To kick off the holiday season, nearly 250 people of all ages gathered for the tree lighting ceremony at Queens Center Mall on November 19.

“This is the 8th annual tree lighting event. It doesn’t take too long to plan this event, but each year we try to create a fresh approach to make it more interesting and exciting,” said Dawn Simon, senior marketing manager at Queens Center Mall.

Guests who made an appearance were Senator Jose Peralta, Councilmember Daniel Dromm, Melva Miller, director of Economic Development from the borough president’s office, and of course, Santa Claus.

Throughout the event, both children and adults were dancing to the DJ’s music.

“In order to put the event together, we make sure that every ‘I’ is dotted. We want our retailers and people in the community to have an awesome experience,” said Simon.

Santa Claus helped the guests countdown from 10 to light up the 40-foot-tall tree.

“This is my first time attending the event. I randomly came to the mall to do some shopping, but I have to say it’s pretty nice; I like the music,” said local shopper Mariam Faqiri.

Another shopper, Sarah Ghafoori from Whitestone, said, “I look forward to the holiday season because everyone gets together and just enjoys each other’s company.”