The yearly tradition, hosted by the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District (BID), is one that brings locals together to eat, drink and appreciate musical and choreographic stylings from around the neighborhood.
“It’s a really great way to celebrate community, kick off the holiday season and really celebrate the small businesses that give Sunnyside a really special feel,” said Jaime-Faye Bean, executive director of the Sunnyside Shines BID.
This year’s event featured six diverse performances featuring local talent: the Fabulous Fezzywigs carolers, “Nutcracker” excerpts from Sunnyside Ballet, Dance NYC, the Sunnyside Youth Drum Core, Manhatitlan Mexican Folkloric Dance Club and LIC’s McManus Irish Dance.
The holiday lighting ceremony changes locations each year to spotlight various areas of the BID.
Last Tuesday, the event partnered with nearby restaurants I Love Paraguay and Senso Unico to provide empanadas, hot apple cider and cookies to residents. Guests also savored hot chocolate and coffee sponsored by White Castle.
Local real estate broker RealTegrity hosted a Santa station where kids could tell St. Nick in person what’s on their wish list for the holidays.
Comptroller Scott Stringer, State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Assemblyman Brian Barnwell all stopped by to celebrate Sunnyside’s character and wish residents a happy Thanksgiving.
Bean also announced that Van Bramer allocated $10,000 to Sunnyside Shines so the BID can fund mini-grants to local businesses for improvements like storefront upgrades and marketing assistance.
Festivities culminated with a countdown to lighting up the blue-and-white LED snowflake hanging above 43rd Street, which was introduced last year.
Bean explained that this holiday season, Sunnyside Shines was able to invest more into the lights and increase the number of what they call “snowflake skylines” on Queens Boulevard.
Starting this Saturday, and running through Christmas Eve, Sunnyside Shines is offering “Festive Flash Deals” in its Sunnyside Post banner to be used at businesses throughout the community, an initiative at the heart of what Bean regards as the essence of the holiday lighting event itself.
“We’re really lighting up the neighborhood,” she said. “What you’re seeing showcased is a lot of small businesses, a lot of culture and a lot of what makes this part of Queens distinct.”