By ASHLEY HELMS
An icy forecast on Dec. 8 didn’t deter village residents from making their way to Harbor Island Park in their heavy winter jackets and scarves to get into the holiday spirit.
It was that time of year again, the annual Village of Mamaroneck tree lighting social.
Snow flurries could be seen falling from the sky and families surrounded small bonfires to roast sausage links, make S’mores and stay warm in face of the blustery weather. Inside the beach pavilion, the line to see Santa and Mrs. Claus stretched throughout, and out of, the building. Young children were entertained with hot chocolate and event volunteers dressed as Dr. Seuss’s iconic Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2.
The event has been bringing the community together for the past eight years. This year, the festivities were sponsored by TD Bank, the Harrison-Mamaroneck Rotary Club and the Kiwanis Club of Mamaroneck. The sponsorships paid for the party, which included snacks laid out on picnic tables for roasting over the open fires.
Rosanne Saracino, superint-endent of recreation for the village, was dressed as a snow princess and sported a white, sparkly dress that dragged on the ground behind her as she posed for pictures with attendees. Saracino said the tree lighting social was her creation as a service to the community.
“I decided to offer a program because there wasn’t anything like this in the area; program coordinating is what I was hired to do,” she said.
Attendance has also seen a significant increase since the event’s inception in 2005. Ac-cording to Saracino, only 89 people attended the first year; 1,246 showed up last year, even though it occurred just three months after Hurricane Sandy caused flood damage in the village and the park. There wasn’t data on the attendance of this year’s event yet, but Saracino said there was a good turnout.
“People love it; there were people who showed up at 3:30 p.m. when the event didn’t start until 4 p.m.,” she said.
Saracino wasn’t the only tree lighting volunteer who was in costume to entertain guests.
Dressed as a Christmas tree with shoes made to resemble wrapped gifts, Katie Scimia, 22, said she started volunteering at the event in 2008 after a family friend suggested she get involved.
On the beach, a Larchmont resident and her family admired a display of decorations.
Christy Wendell checked out the light-up Christmas figures set up by the harbor with her two children. She said this was her first time attending the event and decided to go after friends told her how much fun it was.
They arrived a little early so her two daughters wouldn’t have to wait too long to see Santa.
Wendell said that, even though the nighttime temperature was quite cold, she thought the weather added to the festive nature of the event.
“I think the snow makes it even better,” she said. “It’s so much nicer for the season.”