On a pitch-black night in early December, carolers sang “Silent Night” at the corner of Main Street and Vineyard Avenue. Their shadows played against the door of the historic First United Methodist Church and revelers surrounded them. Nearby, farther down Vineyard, the entire street was blocked off by police barricades. However, most people didn’t seem to care. In the center of the shuttered avenue, people gathered around metal cauldrons to warm themselves on the heat of a makeshift bonfire.
Collectively, the crowd gathered at the Town of Lloyd’s Light up the Hamlet Block Party to wait for two things: Santa and high-powered pyrotechnics.
Town Supervisor Ray Costantino opened the ceremonies by lighting the Christmas tree in the center of the church’s courtyard. He felt pretty enthusiastic about the event.
“It’s phenomenal,” Costantino said.
The block party is one of the only December events to feature fireworks, outside of Poughkeepsie’s display for their tree-lighting ceremony. The supervisor joked that fireworks were a special gift from Saint Nick, who felt a bit generous after the town did his laundry.
“We negotiated a hard deal with Santa,” he said with a big grin.
The hanging of Santa’s laundry was a new tradition for the town this year, but it isn’t one without precedent. Quebec City does a similar holiday display of Kris Kringle’s undies as part of their Christmas celebrations.
Wendy Rosinski helped plan the event with the town’s events committee. She said that both the fireworks and Santa’s laundry were done in an attempt to make Highland’s holiday celebration a little bit different.
“We wanted to take it beyond the normal tree lighting,” Rosinski said.
Typically, the Town of Lloyd has held at least two block parties a year in the hamlet center for the past four years. This year saw an extra celebration to coincide with the onset of winter. Even so, the celebration wasn’t skimping on holiday spirit.
“There’s probably 300 strings of lights,” the events planner said with a huge smile.
Christmas’s biggest celebrity arrived in Highland with a special Fire Department escort. As Santa swung around in that big red fire engine, kids rushed the jolly gift-giver.
“Santa! Santa! Santa!” they screamed.
Highland’s holiday celebration was helped out by a tree donated by K&D Christmas Tree Farm and with special coverage by the radio station Star 93.3 FM.
For more information about the special events hosted by the Lloyd Events Committee, check out their Facebook page or visit the town’s website at www.townoflloyd.com. ++