Dante Park lights up Christmas in Lincoln Square

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A band plays seasonal tunes for onlookers in Dante Park on Dec. 6.
Photo by Dean Moses

Droves of local Manhattanites filed into Lincoln Square Monday evening to help ring in the neighborhood tree lighting.

More than just a Dec. 7 Christmas event, the large, adorned tree in Dante Park served as the symbol of a community comeback story. For the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District the importance of a public holiday celebration cannot be understated. With last year’s tree commemoration being nonexistent and performances at the adjacent Lincoln Center canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s tree lighting looked to illuminate the way for a long-awaited recovery with the promise of more to come.

A juggler skillfully entertains children before the lighting. Photo by Dean Moses
Even on stilts, jugglers kept the objects in motion. Photo by Dean Moses

Festive stilt-walkers and jugglers entertained arriving spectators who pulled up chairs and rested on railings to observe the tree ignite with light. Keeping them entertained while they waited, a musical band sounded off a host of seasonal tunes with the iconic Lincoln Center serving as a sparkling backdrop and the 30-foot Concolor Fir imported from upstate.

The tree had been decorated with ballet shoes to exemplify the area’s iconic Metropolitan Opera house and also garnished with star-shaped ornaments that were designed by community members in partnership with Color Me Mine, Upper West Side— a local small business and pottery studio.

The band play in the glowing light of Lincoln Center. Photo by Dean Moses
Onlookers gather excitedly. Photo by Dean Moses

“It’s great to see everyone out here tonight. I want to thank everyone for coming to our little sort of town square here at Lincoln Square,” Manhattan Borough Commissioner of NYC Department of Parks and Recreation William Castro said, “This is the time of year, of course, when we all want to come together and count our blessings and remember what the year was and the good things that have also happened and look forward to the New Year. It’s a tough time but we’re gonna get through it. We’ve gotten through it, we’re gonna keep on keeping on.”

After a small speech, the gathered crowd cheered as the president of the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District Monica Blum called out: “Are we ready to count down?” And within a matter of seconds the tree glimmered with rich light.

The theme of recovery isn’t going to end with the tree’s lighting, however. It was also announced that every Wednesday throughout December a series of pop-up performances will feature local singers, dancers, carolers, and more to celebrate the return of culture.

Attendees cheer as the lights burn on. Photo by Dean Moses
Music is played. Photo by Dean Moses
A stilt walker salutes. Photo by Dean Moses