Festival of Lights
WEST ISLIP—On Sunday, Dec. 4, West Islip celebrated their annual Festival of Lights in Memorial Park at the corner of Udall Road and Higbie Lane. The evening event, sponsored by the West Islip American Legion Post 1738 and the West Islip Chamber of Commerce, began with a dance number to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by the West Islip High School kick line.
Both the Girl Scout Troop Unit 17 and the Cub Scout Pack 83 carried out the presentation of colors, before West Islip American Legion Commander Greg Buck recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Legis. Thomas Barraga also recited a poem entitled “Respect Our Colors.”
Beach Street Middle School later named Mia Brandenstein the eighth-grade art contest winner. Charlotte Brennon, a young representative from the nonprofit Youth Enrichment Services (YES), also took a moment to share her thoughts on the holidays. “The holidays are an important time, no matter what you celebrate,” Brennon said. She ran down the list of her holiday traditions and thanked everyone who made them special to her. “Even though I receive gifts from my family and friends, I always make sure to give a gift to them. It doesn’t have to be bought. It could be made.”
Supervisor Angie Carpenter reminded the crowd that their town has been doing the Festival of Lights for 41 years and counting. “It is so symbolic of the unity that exists in this community of West Islip,” Carpenter said. “We don’t have that traditional downtown that many of the other hamlets in the great Town of Islip have, but we truly have that sense of community.”
Mohawk Engine Company No. 5 blocked off the intersection before the event began. “We’ve been participating in this every year for decades,” said Captain Rob Celeste. The West Islip Fire Department is also doing its annual Santa Run on Sunday, Dec. 10. “You’ll be hearing the sirens all over town,” Celeste added.
Attendees and fire department personnel alike could be seen Sunday evening wearing holiday light necklaces donated by Doug Chapey of Chapey & Sons Funeral Home, located on both Montauk Highway in West Islip and East Main Street in East Islip.
Islip Town Councilman Steve Flotteron – and soon-to-be Suffolk County legislator – told the crowd it has been an honor to serve in his current role for the last 12 years. “I’m looking forward to being your legislator,” Flotteron said, “and I want to thank Legis. Barraga for the 12 wonderful years he’s been legislator of this community.”
Jim O’Connor, who will be taking on the role of Islip Town councilman later this month, was also in attendance. His words were brief, but he asked the crowd to “do something nice for someone when they’re not looking, because that’s what the holiday season is all about.”
The ceremony concluded with “Let There be Peace on Earth,” performed by Karen Seylar Monaco, and both a Christmas tree and menorah lighting by Rocco Pepe and Sam Kravis, respectively. Refreshments were later served at a recessional held at the West Islip American Legion Hall on Union Boulevard.
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