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Sasaki ‘Luminaria’ brightened holiday season

BY LYNN PACIFICO | On Dec. 14, I walked over to attend the New York University-sponsored “Luminaria,” taking place in the Sasaki Garden at Washington Square Village. It was a very New York pre-holiday chilly evening, with people rushing here and there, and I was one of them. I was afraid that I would not be able to find it, but when I saw the hundreds of small white bags, with LED lights inside, lining every walkway and ledge, I knew I was in the right place. I arrived just before it began.

The concert began with a beautiful Spanish song to the moon by South American singer and guitarist Juancho Herrera. I noticed a large amount of baby carriages, with actual babies in them. The rest of the Village has mostly dogs in baby carriages! Then I noticed the large number of children, who seemed to be multiplying before my eyes.

Sasaki Garden is located in the middle of Washington Square Village, which is mostly New York University housing. (Photo by Tracey Friedman/NYU)

I am not used to this many children. When my son grew up, he was like a mascot, the only child in my 158-unit West Village apartment building. But this little enclave of N.Y.U. is different and this turned out to be a family event.

For the evening’s lineup, Micheal Inge, head of the Voices of Henry Street Choir singers, picked out old favorites with a message. “Imagine,” by John Lennon (1971), was one, with its message, “may the world live as one.” And from “Love Train,” by the O’Jays, (1972): “People all over the world, join hands,” and people were joining in and enjoying themselves. There were guest performers and all songs were beautifully sung with soul and heart.

By halfway through the show there were many children of all ages having a great time. Parents were singing and bobbing and twirling with their little ones in their arms while the older kids were playing with their friends. I know that good family memories were made on this night and that this event made the holiday more special for those in attendance. Throughout the night, I witnessed little toddlers investigating inside the illuminated bags, then picking them up and handing them to a parent — who put them back.

The amount of children frolicking about at the event surprised the writer, who remembers a time when the Village did not have many families. (Photo by Tracey Friedman/NYU)

The night’s last song was “Stand By Me,” by Ben E. King (1961). I found myself swaying and singing along. I guess I got the message.

Congratulations to Erin Donnelly, community liaison of N.Y.U.’s Faculty Housing & Residential Services, who hosted the gala, and the performers. I walked back to the West Village with frozen toes but more slowly, enjoying the holiday decorations. This night brought me into the season. Nicely done.

Pacifico is a fourth-generation Villager who loves nature, dogs and New York City.

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