By Jennifer L. Warren
NEWBURGH – Everywhere you looked, there seemed to be joy last Tuesday night at the Corner of Broadway and Grand Street in the City of Newburgh.
Whether it was a local Councilman distributing candy to excited children, a Department of Public Works employee explaining the details of the authentic, handcrafted sleigh he helped construct, Church at the Bridge members handing out hot chocolate to warm up guests amidst the chilly temperatures, or people dancing and swaying to the ensemble of holiday carols filling the outdoor airwaves, community members were being pleasantly overcome by the imminent holiday spirit.
Once again, the City of Newburgh’s Annual Holiday Tree Lighting, free and open to the public, was taking place, and this year’s festivities were bigger than ever. Involving a host of community agencies, including; the Salvation Army, Church at the Bridge, City Council members, the City of Newburgh Police and Fire Departments, the Chaplain C, Unit, as well as the steadfast contributor: City of Newburgh Department of Public Works (DPW), the evening was a full community effort, aimed at one thing: Delivering sheer joy.
“Any time the community gets together its special, and this one- the City of Newburgh- is special for the many cultures, entities and people it has,” said Jose Vasquez of the Church at the Bridge. “So, any time we are able to all get together, it’s special; we are always better together.”
That unified spirit could be spotted all over Lower Broadway as children eagerly approached Santa Clause, carefully explaining their wishes for the fast approaching big day, munched on freshly popped, warm popcorn while sipping on hot chocolate, checked out the impressive hand-constructed sleigh, built by DPW worker Daniel Dimirov and his co-worker, while adults simply mingled, snapping photos on their phones of all the multi-sensory, uplifting happenings.
“We made this in a week,” said Dimirov as he eyed the impressive piece, complete with a reindeer at the helm. “This is our (DPW) third year here, and it really brings such joy to the kids, especially now after the lockdown, it brings happiness to people of all ages.”
Another much-awaited event that elicited that joy was the highlighted event: The tree lighting. For over 30 years the City of Newburgh’s DPW has diligently set out to secure the perfect Blue Spruce Tree. This year’s selection, donated by Humberto and Linda Alvarez of New Windsor, weighed in at 2000 pounds and stood 30 feet tall. Fully decorated with an array of ornaments and colors, the lofty fixture elicited plenty of “wows” and “oh mys,” as it was officially lit up for all to enjoy.
Two of those people marveling at the awesome illumination were City of Newburgh resident, Yani Jimenez and her young daughter, Naomi, who particularly admired the reindeer on the nearby sleigh. “This is a wonderful way for the community to come together,” said Jimenez as her daughter’s eyes lit up, looking at the tree lights. “The more events like this we can have here in Newburgh, the better for everyone.”
City of Newburgh Councilman, Anthony Grice, who was on hand at the Lighting, is well aware of the critical importance of these types of community gatherings, and is intent on having them continue as well as expand.
“There are several events in our community that people look forward to every year, and this Lighting is definitely one of them,” said Grice, who expressed gratitude for the tree donators- The Alvarez family- as well as to Kevin Lujan, County Legislator, who stepped in at the last minute to help out with candy distribution as well as lead the Tree Lighting countdown. “I’m hoping we can plant several Blue Spruce Trees of our own this year- to have options for next year; it will help the environment as well as assure us of a tree each year, and we can also have several of the major department in the City of Newburgh have a competition with the floats which we had two of this year and were very popular.” He added, “There are just so many possibilities to make this event even better than it already is.”