Tree Lighting in El BarrioBy Jose B. Rivera
East Harlem, December 20th, 2004. The East Harlem Tourism Board together with sponsorship from the Potamkin Auto Group, General Motors, WellCare of NY, Banco Popular, and Ponce Deleon Federal Savings have created and given El Barrio it’s own community Christmas Tree. The Tree Lighting Ceremony kicked off at exactly 6:05 PM, when New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg pushed the button which instantly lit the tree lights.
The temperature was in the double digits and many participants and observers quickly retreated to the Julia Del Burgos Cultural Center to celebrate the tree lighting indoors. Others dignitaries present were Congressman Charles Rangel, State Senator-Elect, Jose Serrano, John Estrella and Raul Rodriguez from State Senator Olga Mendez’s District Office, Councilman Bill Perkins, Democratic District Leader, Maribel Masso, Democratic District Leader, John Ruiz, Community Board 11 District Manager Javier Llano, former Community Board # 11 Chairman, Eddie Bacca 23rd Precinct, Commanding Officer, Deputy Inspector, John A. Perno, Salsa musician, Johnny Colon, Kathy Bensen from the Museum of the City of New York and Marina Ortiz from The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone.
Mr. Hector Santana, Director of the East Harlem Network Office of Empire State Development, came up with the idea of East Harlem having it’s own community tree and worked with Jose Carrero, Chairman of the East Harlem Tourism Board to make it happen.
It’s hard to believe that East Harlem finally has it’s own Tree Lighting Ceremony. This first annual event was brief due to the cold weather, but it is hoped that next years’ event (weather permitting) will be even better. All thanks to Mr. Santana, Mr. Carrero, the East Harlem Tourism Board and to the sponsors which made it all possible.