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The Island kicks off the holiday season

Mr. and Mrs. Claus lit up the night on Wednesday.

Temperatures hovered in the 20s on Wednesday night when Islanders huddled together at Police Headquarters for the annual lighting of the Town Christmas Tree. Thanks to a steady program of music and the spirit of joy for the season, no one seemed concerned about the cool air.

From the first melodious tones of master of ceremonies and Reporter columnist Bob DeStefano Sr. welcoming the crowd of about 200 people to the music that followed to sharing hot chocolate and cookies at the Youth Center, it was a perfect start to the season.

Teachers and students from Shelter Island School led by Deanna Locascio and Keith Brace provided the music along with soloist Dennis Raffelock, who offered Christmas carols and winter-themed songs.

WLNG was on hand to carry the festivities to its radio audience.

Most important, Santa Claus (aka Jim Pugh) and his charming wife, Mrs. Claus (aka Sarah Shepherd), were on hand to greet young and old alike. Parents and grandparents were as enthusiastic as the children.

Santa hugged babies and invited young children to sit on his lap while delighted parents reached for cellphones to capture pictures of the special moments.

In addition to the tree, lights twinkled invitingly leading the crowd to the Youth Center where the volume of music and chatter filled the hall with delightful sounds.

The annual event is organized by the Shelter Island Chamber of Commerce with a raft of local merchants — STARSs Café, Marie Eiffel, Ali and Keith Bavaro of SALT, The Islander, Vine Street, Shelter Island House, Sanwald Construction and Coastal Window Fashions — provided baked cookies while groups and individuals contributed other services to the success of the evening.

Plenty of individuals — Ms. Cincotta among them — baked their share of the goodies and the following day, packed boxes of leftovers were delivered to the Senior Center, Town Hall and the Police and Highway departments 

Ms. Cincotta of Daniel Gale/Sotheby’s International Realty remembered the early days when cookies were store bought for the event. But thanks to efforts of various bakers and generous souls on the Island, they are now locally baked and hot chocolate is prepared the day of the tree lighting.

Setting up the events at police headquarters and Youth Center were the  Shelter Island Police Department and Highway Department, assisted by Youth Center Director Bethany Ortmann and community members.