Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh announced the “Home for the Holidays” Virtual Tree Lighting Ceremony won the 2020 Special Event Award from the Central New York Recreation and Park Society. The virtual event, produced by the Syracuse Department of Parks, Recreation and Youth Programs in partnership with Cumulus Media, was created to help the community celebrate the season in the face of the pandemic.

The Virtual Tree Lighting Ceremony premiered on multiple social media channels, as well as the website, in November 2020. In years past, large crowds of people have enjoyed the festivities in Clinton Square in rain, snow or shine. COVID-19 restrictions forced the cancelation of the in-person event last year. The City’s Parks department brought community partners together for a one-hour tree lighting special. The streamed ceremony featured local and national musical acts, including a special performance for Syracuse by AJR, a rock band known for the hit song, “Bang.” The program also included area residents giving holiday and Christmas greetings in twenty-two different languages.

“There may be no better example of our community coming together than the Virtual Tree Lighting Ceremony. During the coldest and darkest days of the pandemic this past winter, when health restrictions prevented us from coming together to enjoy the tree lighting, this city found a way to do it virtually,” said Mayor Walsh. “I want to thank our team at Parks and Cumulus Media, and all of the members of the community who represented their cultures and contributed their talent.”

The Central New York Recreation and Park Society is a regional affiliate of the not-for-profit organization of the New York State Recreation and Park Society. According to the New York State Recreation and Park Society, its primary goal is to advance the value of parks, recreation, and leisure.

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