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Mount Sinai may change tree lighting's name

Mount Sinai's annual Holiday Tree Lighting event could

Mount Sinai's annual Holiday Tree Lighting event could be rechristened with a new name -- one that includes the word "Christmas." (Nov. 24, 2011) Credit: Ed Betz

Mount Sinai's annual Holiday Tree Lighting event could be renamed to include the word "Christmas" at the Sunday night ceremony.

Residents of Mount Sinai have been debating the event's name in recent days and some in the community have said the word "holiday" contributes to the secularization of Christmas.

About 200 people attended a community forum about the potential name change at the Mount Sinai Heritage Trust building Tuesday night.

Everyone who spoke -- including two people who identified themselves as Jewish -- was in favor of calling the event a "Christmas tree lighting."

Lori Baldassare, vice president of the land trust, which hosts the lighting, said the trust is waiting for answers to about 800 surveys it has sent out to North Shore residents before it makes a decision.

An announcement will be made Sunday, said John Leonard, secretary of the trust, who said it appeared clear that the community was in favor of renaming the event.

"I think we should go with what's not politically right, but what's right for people's beliefs," said resident Terri Brennan during the meeting.

Resident Candace Gonzalez Donin organized the drive to add Christmas to the name of the event.

Donin said she has lobbied to change the title because Christmas is a holiday "loaded with meaning and so rich with spirit" that it deserves recognition.

The Mount Sinai Civic Association began the tree lighting in 1996, and Mount Sinai Heritage Trust took it over in 2007, Baldassare said.

The event is intended to be "all inclusive," she has said.

This year's tree lighting is scheduled for Sunday at 5 p.m. at Heritage Park.

The tree lighting has "really taken on a life of its own," Baldassare said. "We're not opposed to changing the name; we just want to make sure it reflects the feelings in the community."

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