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Brooklyn Heights goes bright: Locals light neighborhood’s tree on Promenade • Brooklyn Paper

Brooklyn Heights goes bright: Locals light neighborhood’s tree on Promenade

Not all merry and nice: Brooklyn Heights residents Janna Collins and Berni Hein came out to spread the holiday cheer, and demand the city find another way to rebuild the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway than by putting a highway on the beloved Promenade.
Photo by Julianne Cuba

It’s a beloved holiday tradition — while it lasts!

Revelers packed the Brooklyn Heights Promenade near Montague Street on Wednesday night to celebrate the season at the neighborhood’s tree-lighting ceremony.

But the annual event on the esplanade overlooking the East River lacked some of its signature merriment this year, due to the possibility that the city may turn the historic walkway into a six-lane speedway for no less than six years during the upcoming reconstruction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway’s crumbing triple cantilever, according to a local.

“It’s a little ironic,” said Janna Collins, a Brooklyn Heights resident and member of local civic group the Brooklyn Heights Association, which hosted the event.

Still, Collins — who showed up to the event sporting a “No Way” pin that Heights Association leaders created as a way for locals to show their feelings about the Promenade’s potential fate — cheered the newly lit tree and the excitement it brings to the area.

“It’s beautiful and it draws people to the Promenade, all the tourists and all the rest will have a good time,” Collins said. “This is the prettiest tree and the best lighting.”

The fabeled walkaway atop part of the three-tiered stretch of expressway is beloved by folks in the borough and beyond — including Santa Claus, who came down from the North Pole for the occasion, where singers from local chorus Grace Chorale of Brooklyn serenaded attendees with seasonal songs.

Promenade fans likely still have another year or two to celebrate the holidays there, however, because the city-led repairs to the 1.5-mile stretch of expressway between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street aren’t set to kick off until 2020 at the earliest.

And locals may be able to continue the tradition in the same spot indefinitely, according to the head of the Heights Association, who said the portion of esplanade home to the Christmas tree isn’t actually part of the triple cantilever, but warned it would likely be affected by the job nonetheless.

“My crystal ball is really fuzzy, but where we were standing last night, that area would remain because it’s not on the triple cantilever structure,” said Peter Bray. “Having said that, I don’t know what kind of construction zone or staging area would be required.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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