One of the newest commercial tenants in Lake Success has restored an old holiday tradition at 1111 Marcus Avenue, the original site of the United Nations, bringing out a large crowd during the first week of December for a Tree and Menorah Lighting Ceremony benefiting the Make-A-Wish Metro New York and Western York foundation.
“We want this to be like the tree at Rockefeller Center and like the Menorah lighting at 59th and Fifth in the city,” said Irwin Simon, the founder and CEO of The Hain Celestial Group, a producer of organic and natural products for 20 years. Hosting the event on the third floor of his offices, he announced that the ceremony would be a yearly event.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Simon helped three “Wish” youngsters pull an oversized switch that actually lit the tree. The tree, standing outside by the parking lot, just a few feet from Marcus Avenue itself, was trucked in from upstate New York and is over 30 feet high.
“George Mullen and I were standing here in September looking out the window and we said we had to do something,” Simon explained. “That’s where the idea came from.” Mullen is regional vice president of Winthrop Management, the site’s management company.
“George said that the last time we had a tree was in 2005,” Simon told the audience, primarily made up of Make-A-Wish children and their families and Hain and the charity’s employees. “This will now become an annual tradition.” The building that Hain has only occupied for less than a year was the temporary home of the United Nations from 1946-1951 while its permanent Manhattan site was being built.
The New York Make-A-Wish Chapter, one of 62 across the country, also has its offices in the Marcus Avenue building. The organization grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions and has granted wishes to more than 10,000 metro area youngsters over the years.
Mangano was a special guest and expressed his appreciation for the work that the charity has done. “It’s amazing how they’ve changed so many kids lives,” he said. “They’ve granted 829 wishes just this year and that’s just in this region. That’s been an incredible accomplishment. That’s 829 children and their families that have achieved their dreams and brightened their lives and created very special moments in their lives. You guys do great things.”
One such beneficiary this year has been the Richard Motta family. Motta, who works at Great Neck South High in the kitchen, and his wife, Cindy, and their son, were given a week at Disney World and Sea World in Florida. Make-A-Wish® provided air, fare, ground transportation, hotel accommodations and park admissions. “The Make-A-Wish people were so great,” the appreciative father said. “They took care of everything. We had a great time at on the trip.”
The Great Neck South Music Department provided seasonal entertainment throughout the evening with performances by the Jazz Band, directed by the department’s chairperson, Michael Schwartz and the choir, led by Dr. Pamela Levy. Their appearance was through the school’s Music Community Outreach initiative, a tradition, itself, that has lasted 21 years.