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Washington Square Christmas tree lighting ceremony celebrates its 88th year

Posted on December 6, 2012 | by Pia Brar

Speaking to nearly 200 people ranging from six months old to 60 years old on a brisk Wednesday night, Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer had one simple question.

“Are the kids ready for the countdown?” Stringer asked the crowd.

After ex

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cited and eager voices peppered the park, the 45-foot Washington Square Park Christmas tree drew the gaze of surrounding bystanders as the multicolored lights lit up. Brought down by the the Washington Square Association and shipped from Vermont, the tree was a celebration of a n 88 year tradition.

“It’s the first time I’ve been [to the event],” said Collin Laport, a freshman in the NYU Liberal Studies Program. “It’s getting pretty festive in New York.”

At it’s 88th anniversary, the Washington Square Park tree-lighting ceremony older than the similar Rockefeller Center tradition by eight years.

“It started as a neighborly expression,” explained Washington Square Association board member Peggy Friedman. “When it’s lit up, you can see it right down Fifth Avenue.”

WSA board members were passing out songbooks printed by the Washington Square Hotel at the event, which started at 6 p.m. A few moments after the lights were turned on, the caroling began with “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”

The major attraction for children is Santa Claus, who attends the event each year. This year Santa is played alternately by Robert Belpasso and his assistant is Hayley Zyndorf, both of whom are top-notch NYU students, according to Sumner.

Two-year-old Augustus was yelling with joy at the prospect of seeing Santa, but it turns out he was not the only one looking forward to seeing the man with the white beard.

“I’m going to sit on [Santa’s] lap,” said Ernie Garcia, a banker in New York City. “But I may break it in half.”

For anyone looking to take part in more Christmas spirit in Washington Square Park, a repeat of this event will be held on Dec. 24, 2012 at 5 p.m.

Pia Brar is a staff writer. Email her at


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Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

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