Happy Holidays: Mayor Walsh Attends Beloved Tradition
Our annual Tree Lighting Ceremony is one of our community’s favorite traditions. It might have been a bit cold and rainy this year, but that didn’t stop residents and program participants alike from venturing to Plaza Betances to celebrate. Volunteers passed out hot chocolate and cookies while the musicians got the crowd in the holiday spirit. There was even a visit from Santa, whose dance moves delighted all the children in attendance.
Tree Lighting ceremonies happen throughout the city of Boston, but our CEO explained why our celebration in Villa Victoria is so special.
“There are trees like this one in every neighborhood of the city…but I think that ours is the best, the most beautiful, and the most unique one because our residents and our program participants prepare ornaments to decorate the tree every year. Even without being lit, our tree looks beautiful because it is something that our residents, our elders, and our children work so hard on every year,” she says.
Mayor Marty Walsh arrived as our special guest just in time to countdown to the tree lighting itself.
“This is a special tree,” he agreed. “It’s one of the few in the city that is not only decorated by residents, but has ornaments made by the residents, as well.
State Representative Martin Rushy, District 8 City Councillor Josh Zakim, and newly elected Boston City Councillor Ed Flynn were also in attendance to help us celebrate.
Community members of all ages were eager to share their enthusiasm for our Tree Lighting festivities. “I think it’s important for the community to have this tradition,” says Villa Victoria resident and IBA board member Wendy Melendez. “It’s important for residents to feel connected to Puerto Rican family. I think it makes the community happy to celebrate the holiday together.”
Youth Program Arts Coordinator and long-time Resident Pedro Cruz believes the event is an essential of making passersby feel welcome in the neighborhood.
“For me, this really means a lot because from growing up in the community, I know that there’s a stigma that comes with low-income communities,” he says. “I like that people are able to walk by and see us in this kind of environment sharing with each other…it gives us a positive light.”
One of our Youth Program participants, Bladimir Rivera, also recognized the positive impact these festivities have on our residents. “For me, it’s another way of seeing how everyone comes together,” says Bladi. “[The tradition] lights up not only the tree, but the whole community.”
We welcome everyone to visit Plaza Betances to see our gorgeous tree and meet some of our wonderful residents. If you take pictures, be sure to tag us on social media! Happy Holidays from IBA.