On Monday night, Dec. 8, when Brownsville 6-year-old Tymique Goodman flipped a giant switch on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall, the 40-foot balsam fir tree in the plaza outside turned a dazzling green, white and blue. The assembled crowd cheered, and the celebration began.
“This is what Brooklyn is all about, its what the holidays are all about,” said newly elected State Senator Daniel Squadron, in the crowded Borough Hall lobby after the lighting, where people waited in line for free hot chocolate and cookies. “People coming together from all over the borough.”
The tree itself came all the way from Vermont, donated to Borough Hall by the Brooklyn Terminal Market Merchants Association. It was decorated by the Department of Parks and Recreation.
“They say the Fir tree was chosen as a symbol for Christmas because it remains green throughout the year,” Borough President Marty Markowitz said. Markowitz said the tree’s year-round vitality mirrors the energy of Brooklyn’s 2.2 million residents. “Brooklynites hail from nearly a hundred nations and speak more than 130 languages,” said Markowitz. “We are the global model for living together in peace and harmony.”
The event, which was free and open to the public, featured a special performance of Jingle Bells by the “Ericksen Elves” group, who sang the holiday favorite in a combined 12 different languages. The festivities attracted parents with young children who waited to meet Santa Claus and receive holiday gifts donated by local charities. Elementary school-aged boys got Super Friends action figures, girls Disney toys. Older children received board games or puzzles. Nobody left empty-handed.
“Some of our boys don’t get a chance to go to a lot of places,” said William Boone, the assistant director of the Brownsville Beacon after school program, where Tymique Goodman, who was chosen to light the tree, spends his days after school. “For our youngsters this is fantastic.”