Last year’s record crowd, estimated at more than 500 parents, grandparents and children, gathered in Lewis Park t for Warwick’s annual Christmas Tree lighting despite temperatures in the mid teens.
They would have much appreciated this year’s mild temperature, around 50 degrees, on Friday evening, Nov. 27.
But as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, less than 50 spectators, wearing masks and keeping a safe distance, were assembled on High Street.
The annual event is sponsored by the Warwick Volunteer Fire Department.
Absent in this year’s abbreviated ceremony was the large group of students from the Warwick Valley High School Chorus Program and members of the Meistersingers who treat the audience to a selection of traditional Christmas songs.
But the guest speakers were on hand and for those who couldn’t attend, the entire event was livestreamed and available on Facebook.
Warwick Fire Department President Melissa Stevens welcomed visitors and introduced guest speakers.
The ceremony began with an invocation offered by Warwick United Methodist Church Pastor Rev. Jennifer Morrow followed by brief remarks by Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton and Mayor Michael Newhard.
Both officials explained the importance of keeping everyone safe and thanking the members of the Fire Department for continuing the tradition during these difficult times. And they wished everyone a Merry Christmas.
Stevens then led the small crowd in the traditional countdown to the tree lighting.
And once again, Santa, traveling in a modern fire apparatus, made his usual early surprise visit, limited this year to a drive by instead of the usual handing out of goodies to the children.
The Historical Society of the Town of Warwick has helped the Warwick Fire Department continue its long tradition by graciously providing the magnificent evergreen, just outside its Old School Baptist MeetingHouse.
This year a smaller tree, which is intended to replace the very tall and difficult to decorate tree, was also lit. And it served as a good substitute during a brief glitch, soon resolved, in the lighting on the larger tree.
- Roger Gavan