More than 100 people came out to celebrate the second annual Christmas tree lighting at Athens Square Park in Astoria on Friday, Dec. 3.
Community members gathered around the 35-foot tree from Pennsylvania, which was positioned directly behind the statue of Athena at the park, located between 30th Street and 30th Avenue, and will be on display throughout the holiday season.
The event kicked off with a prayer and speeches by members of the tree lighting committee, including Gus Lambropoulos and Elias Fillas.
Fillas, the committee chair, explained they had the idea of a tree lighting last year, describing it as “really devastating” due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We got together, a bunch of business leaders in the community and we started brainstorming ideas of what we could do to uplift the community a little bit, and we thought that this symbol … was a great way to uplift the community and to bring some cheer and joy to everybody in a year that was really very devastating,” Fillas said.
Before the tree was lit, students of Saint Demetrios Preparatory School performed a variety of Christmas songs, directed by Phyto Stratis, president and artistic director of Cyprus New York Productions.