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The Festive Christmas Tree Lighting, Parade, and Performance in Astoria

ASTORIA – In a spectacular ceremony, in the midst of a festive atmosphere and with a huge crowd in attendance from the tri-state area, the 3rd annual lighting of the Christmas Tree took place in Athens Square Park in Astoria.

Two years after the start of the institution, at the height, then, of the pandemic, the event did not bring to mind at all the climate of those days. Now, in the first year after the complete lifting of the restrictive measures, the event showed its real potential, with more than 2,000 people of all ages attending, in order to watch the Christmas tree lighting and also the artistic program, which warmed everyone’s hearts in spite of the chilly evening.

The presentation of the program was undertaken by lawyer Maria Markou, who, together with her husband, Konstantinos (Gus) Lambropoulos, was one of the initiators of the Christmas tree lighting and contributed the most to the realization of the event.

The Christmas Tree in Astoria’s Athens Square Park was lit on December 1. Photo: TNH/ Christodoulos Athanasatos

For his part, Alma Bank President Kirk Karabelas pointed out that the supporters of the project are exclusively local businessmen, who contribute the most to the community.

Archimandrite Nektarios Papazafiropoulos attended on behalf of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, while Commanding Officer of the NYPD 114th Precinct Kenneth S. Gorman also attended.

Before the lighting event, a specially planned holiday parade with decorated horse-drawn carriages took place, starting from 49th Street and crossing 30th Avenue to 30th Street, where Athens Square is located.

The police had taken all the necessary measures and streets were closed to through traffic, while the passers-by were pleasantly surprised and rushed to capture the festive spectacle on video.

As mentioned above, despite the bitter cold, citizens of all ages crowded the Square and counted down, all together, for the long-awaited lighting of the Christmas Tree, which will remain lit until January 10.

One of the horse-drawn carriages in the holiday parade, passing under the elevated subway line on 30th Avenue at 31st Street, just before arriving at Athens Square Park in Astoria. Photo: TNH/ Christodoulos Athanasatos

The artistic program followed with Christmas carols and holiday musical acts by Cyprus New York (CNY) Productions, with the members of the elite student choir formed and directed by the organization’s artistic director, Phyto Stratis, as protagonists.

“The first year we were all wearing masks, last year more people attended but still more cautiously, and this year it was back to a normal performance. It is a very beautiful feeling to see our people getting close to each other again. The importance of the Christmas tree is that it is a symbol of hope and optimism,” Stratis told The National Herald.

The CNY artists who also participated in the program were Demetris Michael, Aggeliki Psoni, Ariadne Anna, and Louis Panayiotou.

After the event, Maria Markou spoke with TNH and made special reference to the students and teachers of the three schools that participated (St. Demetrios, St. Catherine, and PS 17) and expressed the belief that the event will expand over the years.

The artistic team of Cyprus New York Productions, led by artistic director Phyto Stratis, in one of the Christmas musical numbers which received warm applause during the tree lighting event in Astoria’s Athens Square Park. Photo: TNH/ Christodoulos Athanasatos

“The event took place as it should have been done. I am also very happy about the parade since, even though it was the first time we did it, it went very well. Everything was very well-organized and we thank everyone. Next year, we will have even more,” said Markou.

Finally, Lambropoulos thanked everyone for their participation, spoke of attendance estimates of 2,500 people, and expressed his satisfaction with the success of the event, noting that it will grow.


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