Tag Archives: Santa Claus

Queens Courier brings Santa Claus, gifts to kids at Boys & Girls Club of Metro Queens

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Santa came early this year, bringing holiday cheer and bags full of presents for children at the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Queens in South Richmond Hill, thanks to The Queens Courier’s annual holiday gift drive.

With a joyful “ho ho ho,” Father Christmas greeted over 100 girls and boys between the ages of 5 and 10, who gasped and wore broad smiles when they saw that Santa Claus had come to town.

The organization’s elementary school program introduces children to a range of topics such as robotics, astronomy, video game development, visual arts and sport activities. They emphasize STEM enrichment and provide homework assistance and tutoring for young people. Additionally, cultural understanding is highlighted as children are led to explore various cultures through food, music and dance.

Toys were donated to The Courier’s holiday gift drive by Courier readers and advertisers as well as visitors to the LIC Flea & Food Holiday Market in Long Island City. Donations also came in from Assemblyman Edward Braunstein and Flushing Bank, which helped collect toys at branches throughout the borough.

Noah Rodriguez, 6, who made sure he got more than one photo with Santa, received a Ninja Turtles board game and said he couldn’t wait to get home and play with it.

Kailey Ceboller, 6, said she was “surprised” to see Old Saint Nick and felt happy when he gave her a Barbie princess doll as a gift.

Another boy, 7-year-old Angel Sigaran, was all smiles when Santa took out a toy truck from his bag of presents.

“I feel excited and happy and want to go home and play with [the truck],” he said. “It feels so good to see Santa.”


‘Little North Pole’ comes to Rockaway this weekend

| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo by Vito Catalano

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Rockaway.

The “Little North Pole” is coming back to Neponsit on Sunday at 4 p.m. Joseph Mure is hosting the event at his home for the 19th year and has always done it for a good cause. Every penny that is donated at the event will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

“Juvenile diabetes is something that is very close to me as it runs through my family,” Mure said. “I love giving back to the foundation and getting the whole community together for a good cause.”

The event was originally supposed to be on Saturday, but due to the weather forecast, Mure switched it to Sunday. It will be held at 144-03 Neponsit Ave. in Rockaway.

The festivities will include singing, dancing and all types of entertainment. Special guests such as Tony Sirico and John Ventimiglia from “The Sopranos” will be there along with Joe Causi from WCBS radio, among others. And of course, Santa Claus will also stop by to see the children.

They will have a raffle for a brand-new 2015 Mercedes Benz GLA 250 for $20 a ticket. It is sure to be an event that everyone will enjoy, Mure said.

“This is an event for people of all ages,” he said. “I do it to put a smile on every child’s face that comes to the event and to help those special children who suffer with diabetes.”

Along with the entertainment, there will be food and drinks, which will be donated to the event, and every child will receive a toy.

Mure wants people from all over to come and kick off the holiday season for a great cause.

“We have a great show planned,” he noted. “It’s very important to me watching the children all around with a smile on their face.”



Sunnyside to host third annual Santathon for charity

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Sunnyside is decking the halls this weekend as the Santas come to town for a drink – all for a good cause.

Sunnyside’s Boulevard Bars, a collective of 11 bars and restaurants on and around Queens Boulevard, will be holding their Third Annual Sunnyside Santathon pub crawl for charity on Saturday starting at 3 p.m. The event will be sponsored by S.K.I Beer.

All who wish to participate are asked to come dressed in their best Father Christmas attire and can pick up $10 wristbands at any of the establishments taking part in the festive day. Wristbands allow those wearing them to enjoy $4 drink specials all night.

Participating bars include Jack’s Fire Dept., Bar 43, The Courtyard Ale House, Maggie Mae’s, The Gaslight, Arriba Arriba, Sidetracks, Molly Blooms, PJ Horgan’s, McGuinness’s Saloon and Bliss Street Station.

Map courtesy of Sunnyside's Boulevard Bars

Map for this year’s Sunnyside Santathon (Courtesy of Sunnyside’s Boulevard Bars)

All the proceeds from the sale of the wristbands will go to toys for local children and each participating bar will also be collecting monetary donations and also any new, unwrapped toys until Christmas.

During last year’s Santathon, Sunnyside’s Boulevard Bars raised over $10,000 in monetary and toy donations. They made donations to local organizations such as St. Teresa’s and St. Raphael’s Church, the 108th Precinct Toy Drive, MercyFirst Angel Guardian Orphanage in Brooklyn and Metro Homeless Shelter.


Number of Christmas movies drops in recent years

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by KC Bailey/Lionsgate Publicity


Many people welcome the winter months with open arms and ready knit hats and scarves.

A traditional activity during this time is movie-going, for you may relax and immerse yourself in a world of candy canes and mistletoe. Now a days, however, options are much more limited than expected.

The presence of Christmas films has declined dramatically, due to the demand for realism in film by the older movie viewers and the demand for horror films by the younger demographic.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, for instance, opens to the public on December 25. In this film, far from a Santa Claus figure, Ben Stiller is a dreamer who delves so deep into his fantasies he spends half of his time daydreaming.

Teens, in turn will be watching other teens fight to the death well into January when may watch Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.

The Hunger Games: Catching fire has reached $186 million domestically and nearly $350 in the worldwide film market by the end of November, according to The Wrap Hollywood News Inc.

The teenage driving force behind the success of first the book trilogy written by Suzanne Collins, and now the Lionsgate films has helped the crude dystopia that serves as the film’s nucleus achieve success in only days after its November 22 opening.

It seems the film industry is trying hard to fulfill the demands of as many viewers as possible in order to increase revenue and attempt to fill theaters in the winter months.

There were 28 films scheduled to release starting on Friday, December 6, according to movieinsider.com. From these titles, 17 are dramas without a holiday theme, thus leaving 11 films in a cluster of thrillers, adventures, documentaries and family films.

Amy Herzog, a Queens College professor and media expert, points out that in the past years some holiday movies have had a darker tone.

“There have been movies like Bad Santa and [more recently] Almost Christmas,” she said. “Which have a very cynical and kind of poignant take on the different experiences people go through during Christmas time.”

In Almost Christmas, released in April 2013, Paul Giamatti and Paul Rudd, having moved away from a criminal past, find the Christmas holiday to be the perfect money making machine.

This trend, Herzog said, favored by an older generation, pulls the viewer away from traditional holiday films, disposing of the Santa Claus figure and in addition fostering a fatalistic view of life.

Another way to twist the Christmas story to fit tastes that are more varied is to incorporate horror. The 1974 film Black Christmas for instance, is also available today as a 2006 remake of the same title. In both films, a disgruntled young boy paints Christmas black by murdering his family, and 15 years later comes home for the holidays as a full grown maniac to find his home occupied by sorority girls. The modern version features hot young actors in a film industry effort to follow modern trends in film viewership — thus providing an alternative for horror fans out there.

There are two comedies available: the Ben Stiller film and the only Christmas film: Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas. Aside from the meager number of holiday films available, this film is group specific which defies the scope of a universal holiday films.

Ideally, Hollywood productions for Christmas feature a varied cast as to help the public identify with characters of different backgrounds. This is not to say that someone of a different ethnicity would not enjoy such a film.

Herzog said light-hearted films such as Best Man Holiday, released in November and the upcoming Madea Christmas, are highly appropriate for the holiday season, generally good time to release films.

“From a stark marketing point,” she said. “People try to release films around the holiday.”

The college crowd, in particular does not often plan-ahead when it comes to movie theater trips, often watching what is available, when there is time and if there is anytime. When choosing a holiday film to watch this winter, students will have the choice already made for them.

Not everyone shares the holiday spirit with the same degree of intensity. However, a point of mutual agreement across the generations is the unrequited love for classic holiday films.

In speaking to media professors and students, while some would rather skip the Christmas film altogether, most will find it most enjoyable in the comfort of their own homes and the warmth of their pajamas.

These films are widely available and easily accessible through all kinds of online services such as Netflix streaming, and Amazon or iTunes downloads without having to leave the house.

General audiences and film professionals alike have been turning to the classic holiday films. Titles such as Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life fill living rooms with joy higher than a cupful of eggnog.

While others like Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and White Christmas extend the offer of a happier life, which we can accomplish by making better choices.

“Our ideas of Christmas are so steeped in nostalgia,” Herzog said. “It makes sense that we revert to the classics when it comes to Christmas.”

Moreover, childhood favorites such as A Charlie Brown Christmas and Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas can take us back to a time of childlike dependency, regardless of how mature our beloved Peanuts characters can be and how cynical Dr. Seuss’s script is.

These films have become unchallenged classics because less of the genre are produced as time goes by, where in 2011 and 2012 there were only three holiday films released but plenty of drama and horror filled the box office.

The type of comfort, whether it be spiritual, or physical found at home is something the movie industry has virtually stopped trying to recreate inside the theater.





LIC Flea & Food Holiday Market: One-stop shopping and family fun

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The LIC Flea & Food Holiday Market kicked off the season with a successful weekend full of holiday fun, as people shopped for friends and family, while indulging in food from all over the world.

Thousands of visitors, from near and far, came to the Holiday Market inside the warehouse, located at the corner of 5th Street and 46th Avenue. It is connected to the original lot, where last summer’s outdoor LIC Flea was held.

“We were thrilled to welcome thousands of shoppers to take advantage of local vendors selling holiday gifts and food at the Long Island City Holiday Market,” said Joshua Schneps, LIC Flea & Food president. “We look forward to the next two weeks. We offer one place to find a special gift for anyone in your life and it is a fun destination for the family.”

Many of LIC Flea’s favorite vendors made a return, along with some fresh new faces, totaling more than 75 unique vendors per day.

Kazuko Nagao, owner of LIC Flea vendor Oconomi who participated in the outdoor LIC Flea, said she saw a lot of regular customers return to the market — and also a large number of new visitors.

“We started off the holiday market really well. It was fantastic,” said Nagao, who will be serving Oconomiyaki, Japanese vegetable pancakes, both Saturday and Sunday. “A lot of people really liked the setup of the flea market because it is very spacious. I got a lot of good feedback from the customers.”

Another LIC Flea returning vendor is Clean Plate, owned by Chimere Ward, who will be serving a savory crab bread pudding and a smoked Buddha mac and cheese both days.

“It went very well. It was a lot of excitement,” said Ward. “The kids and adults had a great time and the vendors had a great time too.”

Vint and York Eyewear, founded by Dmitriy Israel and Larisa Ginzburg, also made an LIC Flea comeback selling vintage inspired eyewear with a modern twist.

“It was great because we got to see our existing customers and we gained some new ones,” said Ginzburg. “We saw the atmosphere was very warm and inviting, it was great.”

A brand new face who joined the LIC Flea family this holiday season is Drink More Good, founded by Jason Schuler, who will be at the market both Saturday and Sunday. This vendor is selling three different flavored soda syrups, in order to create “better-for-you soda,” or flavored seltzer.

“It was a really great experience for us,” said Schuler. “Just a really festive environment. People just seemed genuinely interested in what the local vendors had to offer.”

Schuler said he plans on being a part of the LIC Flea outdoor market, opening again in April.

Along with the array of unique vendors, LIC Flea also presented Dandy Wellington and His Band, who performed live at the market on Sunday. Inspired by the Big Band Era of jazz, Dandy Wellington has taken the sounds of the 1930s and 40s and created a world of well-dressed music.

JIB Lanes also provided a real bowling alley where visitors could try their best hand at getting a strike. For soccer fans, the New York Cosmos had professional players signing autographs and offering soccer activities. Other players are also expected to come down to the Flea.

After all of the different activities, when you need refreshments, the LIC Flea now features a bar, built specially for the Holiday Market and made of wood from the warehouse. The bar serves beer, wine and holiday cocktails.

Filled with the holiday spirit, hundreds of children lined up to take their pictures with Santa Claus. Saint Nick will be back this upcoming weekend from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The site is walking distance from the No. 7, E and G trains, and the LIC East River Ferry stop. It can also be accessed directly from Gantry Park’s walkway, along Anable Basin. A parking garage is available on 5th Street.

LIC Flea & Food Holiday Market will be open December 14, 15, 21, and 22 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.





Little North Pole Christmas celebration

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo by Vito Catalano

The North Pole came to Neponsit Beach for a night and the community celebrated Christmas in style.

Lights showered Joe Mure’s Neponsit Avenue home where he hosted his annual “Little North Pole” event to benefit juvenile diabetes on Saturday. A Christmas display surrounded the house and close to 5,000 people came to see the show, Mure said, including local elected officials, community leaders and thousands of borough residents.

The spectacle raised roughly $200,000 which will go directly to juvenile diabetes research.

Local joints such as VetroLenny’s Clam Bar and Lucy’s sausage and peppers donated heaps of food and local performers sang and danced through the night.

“We put smiles on every single face that was out there,” Mure said. “We put on a show that was both appropriate and great for both kids and adults.”

Then, Santa Claus came to town, riding a sled perched on a flatbed. Several emergency vehicles followed him with their sirens on and lights swirling.

“If you sat out there, you watched Santa Claus show up with the sirens and lights from the sky, you would have a memory of Christmas that will last you a lifetime,” Mure said.

The Little North Pole, a tradition held for nearly two decades, was put on hold last year after Sandy. But now, Mure said they are back, “stronger and brighter than ever.”

“We live in the heart of Rockaway. A year ago, we had nothing,” he said. “I think the kickoff of the Little North Pole was some sort of proof that we’re alive, we’re back.”



VIDEO: Bayside homes musically light up for holidays

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The Queens Courier found two neighboring houses in Bayside shining bright for the holidays.

The houses, located on 56th Avenue and 214th Street, light up with different colors all around and are synchronized to various holiday tunes, including “Carol of the Bells”  by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

In the window you can find Santa Claus moving about and Frosty the Snowman, together with reindeer, nutcrackers and Santa’s little helpers on the lawn of both houses.

Christmas tree made up of only lights stands tall between the two homes, with Disney characters making their way up the tree to Mickey Mouse topping it off.

If you want to share photos or videos of your home’s holiday lights or other houses you see celebrating the holidays, email ctumola@queenscourier.com. Your photos or videos could appear on our website, Twitter, Facebook or in our paper.



‘Little North Pole’ gives kids reason to smile again

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

SHB_p043.pdf - Adobe Acrobat

Sandy couldn’t stop Santa.

That’s how Joe Mure described the “Little North Pole,” the annual holiday celebration in Neponsit held this year on Sunday, December 23. A holiday tradition in the neighborhood, the original event, slated for Saturday, December 1, had to be cancelled because of the devastation from the superstorm.

But after discussing it with other organizers, Mure said the event had to go on.

“For the most part I think we brought the entire community back together,” Mure said. “There were thousands of people out on the street.”

The afternoon featured free food from places such as Russo’s on the Bay and Ludwig’s Catering. Every kid in attendance got several toys, Mure said. Goumba Johnny and WCBS-FM’s Joe Causi emceed the event well into the night with a string of popular musical performers. But the biggest highlight of the night: a police escort for Santa Claus, much to the delight of the kiddies.

Along with the colossal damage some peninsula residents suffered from the storm, the lives lost from the Sandy Hook shootings were honored with 26 Christmas trees throughout Mure’s home.

“They were in the back of our minds,” Mure said. “[And] all the [superstorm] Sandy victims were in the back of our minds.”

This year was particularly about making sure everyone had a reason to smile, Mure said, especially the children.

“The kids need to be able to go ahead and smile,” he said. “That’s why we went ahead with this party.”

Courier brings early Christmas to SQBGC

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Melissa Chan and Billy Rennison

Their eyes glistened like Christmas lights as they saw the dozens upon dozens of wrapped gifts that were laid out before them.

And soon, their booming chants of “Santa! Santa! Santa!” would summon St. Nick.

Or at least “Santa Steve,” but still a jolly man in red who came bumbling in with the promise of presents.

On Thursday, December 15, Courier reporters — playing Santa and his Christmas elves — distributed hundreds of toys to the underprivileged youngsters of the South Queens Boys & Girls Club (SQBGC).

“I think that’s the earliest Santa has ever come [to the Boys & Girls club]. It was a really nice surprise for them,” said Denis Dwyer, the club’s program director. “They had no clue. It really made their day.”

Thanks to generous donations from the All American Car Club in Ozone Park, constituents of Assemblymember Ed Braunstein and Courier staff, advertisers and readers, The Courier was able to donate hundreds of toys to the Boys & Girls Club — with sacks of presents left over for the remaining club members at their holiday party.

The first 30 kids — out of a group of more than 50 — to receive gifts were chosen and rewarded based on the high points they accumulated doing their homework at the club, Dwyer said.

“We picked kids who have been hitting the books hard,” he said, adding that most of them were in kindergarten through second grade.

And the excitement of the young group helped to douse any doubts other kids might have had about the real St. Nick.

“They really believed Santa was there,” Dwyer said.

After all the gifts were distributed, each eager child gripped his own as they counted down from three with Santa Steve.

And then off flew the wrapping paper — unveiling Barbie dolls, race cars, board games and more.

“There was a nice buzz about that the whole day, and we had a lot of kids running to their parents at the end of the day to tell them and show them their new toys,” Dwyer said.

Founded in 1957, SQBGC strives to help young people improve their lives by building self-esteem and developing values and skills during critical periods of growth. The group’s mission is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those from at-risk and disadvantaged circumstances.

Santas streak through Astoria

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

santa streak 2011w

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.”

Bayside kicks off holiday season

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Michael Pantelidis

Bayside residents and community leaders rang in the holiday season by lighting up the neighborhood.

The Bayside Village Business Improvement District (BID) and Bayside Business Association (BBA) hosted their annual Holiday Tree and Menorah Lighting ceremony on November 29 at the BBA headquarters, located at 41-16 Bell Boulevard.

“This marks the start of the holiday season for Bayside,” said Judith Limpert, president of the BBA. “It is a beautiful village atmosphere here. I think today we are all way too dispersed and focused on things that aren’t relevant. Community and family are very important. We also hope to get people to understand that Bayside has a beautiful shopping strip. They should come here first, because they can probably get everything they need for their holiday shopping. The point of this event is to attract Baysiders to come out.”

Holiday lights were also recently installed by the Bayside BID above all the blocks of Bell Boulevard.

“This event only comes once a year, and it really is the beginning of the holiday season and the biggest season for businesses and restaurants here on Bell Boulevard,” said Gregg Sullivan, executive director of the Bayside BID. “Events like this and our street lights really improve business enormously and highlight Bayside.”

The neighborhood organizations were joined at the event by Councilmember Dan Halloran, Assemblymember Edward Braunstein, Father Brosnan from Sacred Heart Church, Father Byrnes from All Saints Episcopal Church and of course, Santa Claus.

“The celebration of light over darkness is what these holidays are all about,” said Halloran. “These lights symbolize that.”

During the ceremony, visitors were serenaded with Christmas carols, and children had the opportunity to tell Santa what gifts they wanted waiting for them under their tree this year. After the lighting, attendees were invited out of the cold and inside the BBA headquarters for hot chocolate and snacks.

“This is a wonderful event for [my goddaughter] to see the tree with all of this nice lighting,” said Rose Lynch, a Bayside resident for 45 years, who brought her goddaughter, Ashley, to the lighting ceremony. “It is a nice introduction to the holidays with spirit. I think this is a cute idea to come and meet Santa in a unique way, which is individual and small. It is delightful.”