Tree Lighting 2023

December 13, 5:30 PM

Please come to our tree lighting this December 13th at 5:30pm at the foot of Montague Street. Sponsored by the Brooklyn Heights Garden Club.

You will be participating in a very old tradition; one of Brooklyn Heights old timers, whose father was the very first Santa Claus, wrote us the following letter after reading about a previous year’s tree lighting. He has agreed for us to share his memories:

That brought back memories as my family lived on the 2nd Floor and 5th floors of  2 Montague Terrace during the fight with Moses and were actively involved.  
After the Promenade was finished and the group worked out putting up a Christmas Tree, the first event included my father, Waldo McKee, dressed as Santa Claus arriving in the Fire Chief’s car and my first cousin, Gordon Thayer, came with an accordion to play songs of the season so everyone could sing along. 

It was a great fun affair for the neighborhood.  My other first cousin, Connie Thayer Latson, also came with her children.  I believe candy canes were given out.  Subsequently, one of the local church choirs would come to help entertain. 
Dad was great as Santa Claus as he never met anyone he couldn’t have fun with so that made it easy for the kids.  And the rest of our family was very musical, so we sang lustily to lead that portion of events. 

I also remember the fight with Moses on the original plan for the BQE.  Everyone was up in arms and writing letters to all of influence.  I especially remember my Uncle Thornton Thayer  when he recounted writing a letter that emphasized the environmental impact and the need for a promenade above the highway.  Why that stuck in my mind is that he was telling it because his secretary in typing up her shorthand for his wording of Brooklynites wrote Brooklyn Knights.
I cherish growing up there back in the 1930s-1950s.  I moved to Manhattan in 1957 as my parents were retiring in 1959 to our family farm in Connecticut.  Then I moved to Washington, DC, on Senator Jacob K. Javits’ staff in 1969 and subsequently had 5 Presidential appointments, retiring as Chairman of the Federal Labor Relations Authority.  Now at 89 I spend part of the year at the farm and the winter in DC.  But, a lot of what happened in my life was thanks to my early life in Brooklyn Heights and friends that have lasted a life time.
Jean McKee