Story by Lisa Rice
Each year, on the Friday following Thanksgiving, the Warwick Fire Department officially opens the Holiday Season with the annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Lewis Park, followed by Warwick’s first visit from Santa Claus. This year the event was held on Fri., Nov. 24 at 6 p.m.
Past and present members of the Warwick Valley High School Meistersinger and Women’s Chorus, under the director of Choral Director Noreen Hanson, treated everyone to various Christmas carols on the steps of the Old School Baptist Meeting House as hot chocolate was served and the clock ticked down the final minutes.
Warwick Fire Chief Jason Brasier then thanked the crowd and invited Father Jack Arlotta to give an opening prayer. Joining in the festivities were Village of Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard and Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton.
“Today, our Village was bustling and that’s what it’s all about. It’s living our lives here in this community and taking care of each other. Doing a little local shopping, a little local eating and enjoying ourselves,” said Mayor Newhard.
Mayor Newhard then discussed upcoming events, such as Second Sundays Conservations at the Albert Wisner Library and Apple Eve, a New Year’s Eve event, to close out the Sesquicentennial celebration, before thanking Chief Brasier and the Fire Department.
“I just want to say thank you to our Fire Department for organizing this and putting this on every year,” said Newhard.
“Thank you all for coming out tonight,” said Supervisor Sweeton. “It’s beautiful and it’s such a great crowd. You know, we just finished our Thanksgiving and hopefully we’ve all counted our blessings. We have a lot of blessings. We have blessings of this great community we live in. People care. They help each other. They’re here. And you see it tonight.”
After Sweeton spoke it was time to count down to the lighting of the tree. Five, Four, Three, Two, One, and…nothing! The crowd held their breath for a moment. There was a low rumble through the crowd and then, the 2017 Warwick Fire Department Christmas tree lit up the night, as it will for the remainder of the year and the start of the next.
The choir sang, “Joy to the World,” and the little children began to scurry away from the music and the tree toward the sirens that echoed down Church St. as Santa Claus arrived on a fire truck. Santa then took time to greet all of the children, young and old, and handed out chocolate candy before heading back to the North Pole to start peak season.