The crowd begun by filling the streets with the Christmas spirit and joy as they all sang traditional Christmas carols, drank hot cider and ate cookies. Children and they parents counted down as they awaited the tree to be officially lit at 6:00 p.m. The event was coordinated by the Ossining Recreation and Parks Department and officially kicked off the holiday season.
“It’s a wonderful event we look forward every year. It means so much to the children of our community. When we see their faces light up—it’s priceless,” said Henry Atterbury, Ossining Recreation and Parks Superintendent.
According to the Village of Ossining and the Ossining Recreation and Parks Department the Christmas tree lighting tradition has been going on since the early 1950’s, when they would bring a new tree at the center of Main Street and gather to light it as a community and family.
“Ossining is wonderfully diverse community, multi-culturally and ethically. We have a wide-range of mixed young and old with various faiths. All these cultures come together to celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa and Yule in a way brings out the best in our community,” said Robert Daraio, Ossining Village Trustee.
The lighting was followed by a very exciting entrance from Santa Clause on a fire truck. The children’s anticipation was very evident as they cheered for his arrival and for him to get off the truck.
“It’s a kick off to the holiday season, for the children it’s a thrill to see Santa arrive on a fire truck,” Atterbury added.
The Greater Ossining Chamber of Commerce held the first ever downtown holiday storefront decorating contest. Winners were announced at the tree lighting. 1st Place was awarded to Bob’s Army and Navy, 2nd Place was awarded to Westchester Stationery and 3rd Place was given to Healthsmart Pharmacy. Winners were presented with a framed certificate from the chamber board of directors. Judging criteria for the holiday window displays included creativity, aesthetics, and overall holiday spirit.
“All participants got into the spirit and made a downtown beautiful for this holiday season. All the windows look great. We can’t wait to include the greater Ossining, Croton and Briarcliff communities for next year’s contest,” said John Girolamo, Director of the Ossining Chamber of Commerce.
Bob’s Army and Navy, first place winner had each of his front store window’s wrapped in white lights, snowman, and greatly displayed clothing and shoes.
Healthsmart Pharmacy had a professionally painted background with a nativity scene in the center and wise men on the side.
Westchester Stationery had festive colorful decorations around featured gifts.
Every year, hundreds of lights are hung by the Ossining Public Works crew. According to village officials LED light bulbs are now being used, cutting the amount of energy consumption and going green.
The historic downtown Ossining shopping district, formerly known as the crescent, is known for its one of a kind late 19th and early 20th century commercial buildings which some are major national landmarks for the Village of Ossining; such as but not limited to churches, village hall and others. Ossining’s downtown was recognized as a historic district and in 1989 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.