The holiday season officially has arrived in Niskayuna.
More than 100 people attended the town's annual tree lighting ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 9.
The Niskayuna High School choir performed songs celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas. After the brief concert, Supervisor Yasmine Syed led a countdown that ended when lights were turned on -- putting red, green, blue and yellow bulbs to work on the 7-foot tall tree inside the town gazebo.
"This is our fifth annual holiday tree lighting," Syed said. "We'd like to keep it going as long as we possibly can. We had First New York Federal Credit Union donate the tree, the hot chocolate and the cookies this year. ... We have a lot of departments that worked together to put this very special night together and it went off without a hitch."
The choir singers gathered inside the gazebo, and town residents and other people gathered outside the structure.
Choir director Christina Catalano said she was pleased so many of her singers participated in the brief concert.
"Anytime you promise anyone extra credit or an excused voice lesson, we sort of get a lot of kids here," Catalano said. "I think that's what happened."
The students also showed up because they genuinely liked the material.
"They start asking about this event very early in the year," Catalano said. "They're excited, some of them know a lot of this music very well. We look at it from a different perspective, looking at it through harmony and learning new pieces and old pieces and looking at them in a different way."
Catalano also liked the age range represented in the choir.
"I encourage my older students to come and mix in with the younger students, to give them the inspiration to hopefully continue singing," she said. "I think just bringing the whole town together is such a nice event."
Lisa Weber, a member of the Town Board, was glad to see Niskayuna residents come out on a cold December night.
"It's a wonderful event," she said. "The sense of community is amazing. People come out, they enjoy the holiday together, they enjoy hot chocolate and cookies. We've completely filled our Toys for Tots collection box, and we have another tree inside [Town Hall] for Things of My Very Own. People have been taking tags, we've had to refill our wish tree, those tags are for people to sponsor a child in crisis. The things they need are warm bedding, warm clothes. It's really a big win-win for our community."
"Wonderful for the entire town," added Town Board member Bill McPartlon.
The choir kids filled up on cookies and hot chocolate.
"It's cold, but it's fun," one young singer said about the night out.
Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]