Local residents gathered at the Westbury Recreation Center on Dec. 2 for a beloved and time-honored tradition—the lighting of the village’s Christmas tree, complete with a visit from Santa Claus. This year’s festivities also included an exciting new addition—a holiday market filled with crafts vendors.
At the start of the evening, the community gathered in the Recreation Center to enjoy donuts, cake and hot cocoa provided by the Chamber of Commerce. Mayor Peter Cavallaro welcomed the gathered families, expressing his pride in being a fellow resident of Westbury.
“This is a special community,” he said. “Those of us who live here may not realize that, but if you go around other communities, you’ll see that they’re not like Westbury. It’s really a privilege for me to serve as mayor here, and the board of trustees feels the same way.”
The festive atmosphere was enhanced by Westbury Middle School’s choir, who belted out toe-tapping renditions of yuletide classics. In addition, a talented brass band provided the perfect ambiance leading up to the tree lighting ceremony. After enjoying treats and sweets, Cavallaro led his constituents outside where they counted down the seconds to the lighting of the holiday tree, followed by a special visitor delivered courtesy of the Westbury Fire Department—Santa Claus himself, who immediately found himself surrounded by excited children as he handed out special treats from his great red sack.
Meanwhile, the Holiday Market, located right next door in the gymnasium at the Phipps Sports Center, hosted vendors selling all manner of interesting trinkets and handmade items, with proceeds supporting arts programs in the community. Local resident Maureen Baranov, who organizes farmers and artists markets during the summer in the Ernesto Strada Piazza, said she thought the tree lighting would be a great opportunity to include a similar event that would feed off of the nearby foot traffic.
“Some of these vendors are from our summers artists and farmers market, and the other vendors were attracted through our local Facebook group…overall, we have about 15 vendors here from 12 to 6 p.m.,” Baranov said. “This is our first year holding this type of event in conjunction with the tree lighting, and we’ve learned a great deal as far as getting the word out to the community and making them aware of all the great things we’re selling here.”
Matt DeVito of West Babylon is owner of Creatures 4a While, and attends numerous local craft shows selling jewelry he’s made out of different types of fossilized materials and crystals.
“This is my first year doing this, and I’ve attended about 25 shows already,” he said. “I offer necklaces, rings and all sorts of decorative items that are a little different from what you would find in any retail store.”
Teresa Mecke of Massapequa Park is a retired art therapist and was another vendor at the holiday market, and on her table she was offering a number of breathtakingly beautiful silk floral arrangements, all sold in festive coffee mugs.
“I do them in mugs for people who just need to buy a small gift,” she said. “I do larger ones as well, but nothing really that big, because to lug it around can be hard. Everything is moderately priced and I offer items that are perfect for the fall and spring seasons.”
Baranov noted that the holiday market was still finding its feet, so to speak, and that she hopes next year’s edition will be even bigger and better.
“The merchandise we’re selling is really nice, and we’ve had a lot of people trickling in from the tree lighting next door,” she said. “If we do this again next year, we’re hoping for even more vendors and an even bigger turnout from the community, but this was a lot of fun.”