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Park Avenue Tree Lighting: Celebrating A Tradition


Pamela Schwegel, Barbara McLaughlin, Kevin McLaughlin, and AJ Schwegel. (Photo: Annie Watt)

Mention Park Avenue anywhere in the world and people recognize a hallmark of New York City. What you may not know: it's the Fund for Park Avenue (a non-profit organization) that manages and maintains the Park Avenue Malls, insuring they are alive with tulips in the spring, begonias in the summer, sculpture throughout the year, and lit fir trees in the winter. The 70-year old winter tradition is known as the Park Avenue Tree Lighting.

On Monday, October 20th, England's Anna Haughton and Brian Haughton, founders of the International Fine Art and Antique Show (IFAAS) and Swifty's, the popular upper East Side restaurant, hosted a reception at the Park Avenue Armory during the show to celebrate the 2014Park Avenue Tree Lighting and its supporters. This year's IFAAS was subtitled "Game of Stones" because of all the magnificent gems for sale, including some royal pieces.

As Anna Houghton says, "Every time I return to New York, it's a joy to see Park Avenue."

The reception was held in Swifty's Café, created this year to serve visitors to the show. Island restaurant provided the wine. Both are longtime supporters of The Fund. The party favors, a Fund tradition, came from Eleni's cookies.

Barbara McLaughlin, the Fund President, and Jo-Ann Polise, Executive Director, were in the Café greeting long time supporters as well as new ones. Mrs. McLaughlin looked around with a big smile and said, "Every year, The Fund's work is made possible by the contributions we receive from the people in this room. Tonight's party is such a wonderful opportunity to thank them in person."

The Tree Lighting dates back to 1945, when a group of neighbors lit the trees on the Park Avenue malls to honor the men and women who died in World War II. Today, the trees serve as a memorial to all who lost their lives defending our country.

Guests were free to browse the luxury-laden aisles of the show, while Charlie Sheips was in the Café, signing copies of his just published "Elsie de Wolfe's Paris: Frivolity Before the Storm." The book is a detailed portrait of de Wolfe's famous 1939 "Circus Ball." Potterton Books generously donated a percentage of the proceeds to The Fund.

If you're in Manhattan Sunday, December 7, 2014, join with neighbors, friends, and families at 6:30 p.m. outside Brick Presbyterian Church (Park Avenue at 91st Street) for the 2014 Park Avenue Tree Lighting. Following a joyous ceremony during which the crowd sing songs, there will be silent homage during "Taps," a reminder of the original meaning. The 104 fir trees will remain lit every evening through January 18th.


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