The holiday season is officially here.
With the help of of his fellow Malvernites, long-time resident and local artist Arthur Raymond flipped the switch on Saturday night to bring the village's Christmas tree to life.
"When I pull the switch it will be like everyone here is pulling the switch," Raymond told the crowd gathered around the tree at this year's holiday lighting ceremony. They all joined together to give him a countdown before he turned the lights on.
Raymond has lived in Malverne with his wife for 57 years, raising a family and giving back to the community. He is most known here in Malverne and throughout Long Island for his exquisite paintings. He's even captured some of the village's most famous landmarks with his watercolors, which are featured in a 2012 calendar that the Malverne Historical Society is currently selling.
What many might not know though is that Raymond is also responsible for setting up the Nativity scene near the fountain at the center of town each year.
"Mr. Raymond is a very special person and a very talented artist," Mayor Patricia Norris McDonald said.
Following the tree lighting, local clergymen blessed the creche and youth singers performed songs including "Silent Night" and "Breath of Heaven." The ceremony was part of a spectacular night of holiday festivities that included an elf parade led by the state-championship-winning Malverne High School Marching Band and anchored by Santa and Mrs. Claus in their sleigh.
There were also several performances by local singing groups, the Tap to Pointe dancers and street carolers. Santa spent the night visiting with kids at the train station and at local merchants, and Frosty kept them dancing at his disco party on Hempstead Avenue.
Many families also enjoyed a live petting zoo, living nativity, horse carriage rides and free cookies, cider, hot cocoa and even a photo booth at local businesses. Look for more photos and video highlights from this year's Lighting of Malverne on Monday.