It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Brooklyn.
One of the borough’s first tree lightings of the season took place in Park Slope over the weekend. On Saturday, Nov. 26, more than 1,000 people gathered on Fifth Avenue, near the pedestrian-friendly Fourth Street Plaza, to christen the neighborhood’s 30-foot tall pine, now towering over a space that was car-free over the summer.
“The tree lights up Fifth Avenue in all its glory,” said Joanna Tallantire, executive director of the Park Slope Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), an association that supports local businesses through event organization and community building.
The BID helped organize the holiday spectacular, and regularly provides networking opportunities for participating shops, restaurants and entertainment businesses. This year’s holiday spectacle also coincided with Small Business Saturday, a theme played up by the BID at the event.
“The message this year is buy small,” said Tallantire. “You can find all the items on your holiday shopping list here.”
Santa also made an appearance to help with the countdown for the ceremonial lighting of the tree, which is surrounded by a barricade covered in letters the neighborhood kids wrote to Saint Nick. Others youngsters in attendance deposited their wish lists in a red mailbox that will be open on Dec. 18, when Santa visits the neighborhood again to search for the toys children asked for at local stores.
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The nearby Buttermilk Bake Shop distributed about 1000 cookies. Families lined up for kids to hop on a garbage truck from Waste Connections NYC or to get their faces painted.
According to Tallantire, the commercial stretch is home to approximately 525 businesses. She added that, though over 50 businesses went under during the coronavirus pandemic, close to 100 new ones have opened up along Fifth Avenue in the last 18 months — a positive sign for local business around the borough.
“I’ve seen the avenue go through rough times, but now there are lights, restaurants and families walking down every block,” she said. “Now we see new faces in what used to be abandoned store fronts.”
The tree’s location is also significant, Tallantire said. The Fourth Street Plaza used to be a driving dead end, until community members reclaimed it and turned it into a pedestrian plaza last summer. The BID on Saturday began surveying residents on what they would like to see made of the plaza, and they’ve already gotten more than 250 responses.
The Park Slope BID will also host a Menorah lighting on Dec. 18 at 2:30 p.m. at the Old Stone House.