By Shoshanna McCollum ~ This year the Village of Ocean Beach Annual Holiday Tree Lighting seemed to shine just a little bit brighter, on Saturday, Dec. 15.
“We check out the clearance tables every January,” said Inc. Village of Ocean Public Works employee Rich Schelling proudly. This frugal habit has assured that the holiday display on the Village Green is refreshed as needed, and the Department of Public Works takes considerable pride in this task. Schelling even added wooden deer figurines he crafted himself, which stood beneath the tree this year. Years of firsthand observation of the real thing while on the job allowed him to capture their essence with Zen simplicity.
Speaking of trees, the evergreen has been moved to a new location. Years of saltwater infiltration has apparently killed several trees that had been planted in its traditional spot on the northeast side of the green by Albatross Restaurant, thus forcing village planners to seek higher ground for the tree this year. Carolers, warmed up by holiday cheer at CJ’s during holiday happy hour, seemed to enjoy the new centralized location a block west where the planting beds are slightly elevated. With the tree’s new home came an expanded light show – even the village flagpole was decked out for the occasion. Many event regulars remarked it was the prettiest Ocean Beach holiday display in recent memory.
After the caroling, everyone trekked to the fire hall, which also was decorated prettier than ever, to feast at Ocean Beach FireDepartment’s Holiday Potluck Dinner. Always a favorite, the night’s mild weather brought in large crowds including Fire Island community neighbors as far as Saltaire and Cherry Grove. Chris Lincoln made his “seafood dynamite,” Kevin Schelling his signature deviled eggs, and Susan Abrahams triumphed with her chocolate almond toffee among the many dishes that attendees prepared. People socialized at the bar, while others caught up and gossiped at their respective tables. Jenn Morano even took it upon herself to play Secret Santa,bestowing small gifts from a canvas sack as she stopped at each table.
Indeed there is much to celebrate this year on Fire Island. Yes there are still repairs to be done six years after Superstorm Sandy, but progress is now visibly substantial. After years of year round population decline,especially with younger families, we now have new crop of local children that are close in age – so the young ones have playmates. This was one holiday gathering where no detail was overlooked, and every participant played a role, large or small, that contributed to the evening’s success.
“Say nice things and spell our names correctly,” OBFD FireChief Ian Levine said to us with a smile at the door in bestowing his party conclusion farewells. You got it Ian!
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