Local elected officials and business leaders gathered on Atlantic Avenue on Wednesday to celebrate the illumination of the thoroughfare’s first-ever Ramadan holiday lights display.
The lights stand as a gesture of unity with the longstanding Muslim and Arab community in the neighborhood, according to the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District. The corridor has long been a center of Arab and Muslim culture in Brooklyn, and is dotted with locally-owned Middle Eastern businesses. But while the avenue gets decked out with lights and decorations for Christmas and other holidays each year, it has never before been illuminated for Ramadan.
Preparing for Ramadan on Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn pic.twitter.com/aYs0QhoWp9
— wade lambert (@wadeNYC) March 22, 2023
Kelly Carroll, who recently joined the BID team as an executive director, said she was surprised the area hadn’t had commemorative lighting given the large Muslim population.
“I took this position at the BID about five months ago and it was strange to me that we don’t have Ramadan lights given our stakeholder population, which we’re known for. Our Middle Eastern businesses many of them are Muslim,” Carroll told Brooklyn Paper.“My inspiration for this actually came from my neighborhood which is Bay Ridge and the Fifth Avenue BID was the first BID in New York City to hang Ramadan lights in 2021 and I just thought ‘Why not here?’”
Many who gathered outside of Fertile Crescent, a well known Brooklyn retailer selling Halal meat, Islamic clothes, books and more, spoke on the vitality of inclusivity and diversity in the area including Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso.
“We have our first lights representing Ramadan in one of the most historic and important streets in all of Brooklyn. What it represents to the Muslim community to be represented in this important avenue, we can’t tell you,” Reynoso said to the crowd. “We’re extremely grateful to YAMA and the Atlantic Avenue BID for all of the work that they’ve done to make this happen.”
Starting by sundown on March 22, the display will light up two sections of Atlantic Avenue between 4th and 3rd Avenues between Court and Clintons Streets until the end of the holy month on April 20.
Laurie Duncan, chair of the Atlantic Avenue BID, hopes the display sheds light on the array of cultures, religions and ethnicities in Brooklyn.
“These displays signify awareness and appreciation of our Muslim neighbors,” Duncan said in a statement. “It is my wish that these illuminations encourage all to join in solidarity, celebrating many of the universal principles of humanity, such as spiritual reflection, charity and the importance of family and community.”