Story by Kristina Hoti
The Pine Island Chamber of Commerce (PICOC) hosted the 7th Annual Tree Lighting in Pine Island Park on the evening of Wed., Dec. 6. Leonard DeBuck, president of the PICOC, welcomed attendees and introduced the Warwick Valley High School Meistersingers, who led a sing-along, filling the cold night air with the spirit of the holidays.
Warwick Town Councilman Floyd DeAngelo and Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton were also in attendance. Sweeton offered a “Merry Christmas” wish to all, turning the stage to the elite group of high school vocalists. It was hard not to at least hum along to traditional favorites like “Frosty the Snowman,” “Joy to the World,” “Jingle Bells,” “Silent Night,” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” The students performed with precision in either four or six part harmony, under the leadership of senior Seth Thomson, the student conductor.
In addition to the sing-along, children and families enjoyed taking photos on an antique sleigh, which was provided by John Redman, vice president of the Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce and honored last month as Pine Island’s 2017 Citizen of the Year.
Dating back to 1895, the sleigh provided a picturesque accent to the occasion. Platters of cookies and jugs of apple cider were donated by ShopRite, while the PICOC supplied glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets and disposable items for children. St. Peter’s Lutheran Church provided the hot chocolate, candy canes, free Christmas coloring books, and crayons. Pastor Tim Anderson, of St. Peter’s in Pine Island, spoke just before the lighting of the tree of the significance of light at the holidays.
“At this time of year, we light up our houses, we light up trees, and we remember that darkness is always overcome by light,” said Rev. Anderson.
When the time came to light the cheerfully decorated tree, little one-year-old Jacquelyn Kamenas, the granddaughter of Leonard DeBuck, did the honors, with some assistance from her mom, and turned on the enormous light switch that stood beside the tree. Overwhelmed with her duties, she then commenced with rolling about on the grass, as any one-year-old would be likely to prefer, much to the delight of her on-lookers. The Meistersingers gracefully continued on with their concert and the singing and general merriment ensued despite the chilly winter air, well beyond the lighting of the tree.