On a rainy evening on Dec. 6, adults, children and senior citizens gathered for a merry and bright Christmas celebration at the New Hyde Park Knights of Columbus for the annual “Light up for Christ” event.
At around 7:30 p.m., guests sat at appropriate red and green clothed tables and listened to the choir sing classic Christmas carols, accompanied by a keyboard player and young children in Santa hats.
“We started this 27 years ago as a local thing and then it became a county thing, then it became a state thing and now it’s world-wide,” said Grand Knight Brian Ennis. “At 8 p.m., the entire world, all Knights of Columbus councils flip the switch. It may be 1:00 in the afternoon or 2:00 in the morning, but they’re supposed to flip the switch.”
Once 8 p.m. rolled around, the rain had stopped outside — perhaps by a Christmas miracle — and the tree lighting ceremony began.
Rev. Msgr Raymond Chappetto from Our Lady of the Snows Church blessed the tree and then the white lights illuminated the night while the choir sang “Joy to the World” before heading inside to continue the party.
“The biggest special thing is the fact that everybody gets together,” Ennis said. “In the immortal words of Andy Williams, ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year,’ and this council shines.”
After the tree lighting, Ennis gave a formal welcome to everyone and announced important guests, which included members of the clergy, Knights of Columbus dignitaries, school principals and public officials Sen. Jack Martins and County Legislator Richard Nicolello.
“It’s great to see so many people out and a cross section of Catholics,” said State Deputy Sal Restivo. “Now is a time where we need to focus on our community to build the Catholic community, and nothing builds catholic communities better than Catholic schools.”
Ennis presented the parishes of Notre Dame, Our Lady of the Snows and a gift of $1,500, and Ennis was presented with a certificate of congregation from Restivo for all the “great work” he’s done for the council.
“Here we are all these years later and we’re still celebrating Christmas,” Ennis said. “The message that we should get out is to have a Blessed Christmas first and then a Merry Christmas.”