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Albertson winter festival offers holiday fun to families

Nicole Cefaloni, 5, of New Hyde Park, her

Nicole Cefaloni, 5, of New Hyde Park, her sister Gia Cefaloni, 3, and their cousins Patrick Marchiselli, 6, of Bayville, and Charlie Marchiselli, 2, watch a miniature train move around the track at the Town of Hempstead's seventh annual “Winter Wonderland” at Clark Botanic Garden in Albertson. (Dec. 15, 2012) Credit: Brittany Wait

Holding a gingerbread cookie to his mouth, 3-year-old Dylan Parochniak took a bite out of a cookie he dressed in icing and marshmallow buttons, a Cheerios smile and jelly gum drop eyes.

“He really came here for the trains, but the cookies distracted him,” said his grandmother Mary Distler, 63, of East Williston. “He loves his trains. He goes to every train exhibit there is.”

Dylan was among the hundreds of people who came out for the Town of North Hempstead’s seventh annual “Winter Wonderland” at Clark Botanic Garden in Albertson on Saturday.

The event featured live holiday music, an electric miniature train display, cookie decorating and a paper snowflake craft. Clark Botanic Garden also accepted donations to replant the nearly 40 trees knocked down by superstorm Sandy on Oct. 29.

Louise Fishman, executive director of the Town of North Hempstead Business & Tourism Development Corporation, said it made her feel a little better to see the children so happy, especially at a time when the country is grieving after 20 children and six adults were fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday.

“It’s a very happy time and with all that’s going on in the world, especially now with what happened at the tragedy at the school, it’s so good to see all these happy faces,” said Fishman, of Great Neck.

Rita Roa held on to her children’s coats, while her daughters danced up and down, frantically shaking plastic red maracas and rocking back and forth to “I Have a Little Dreidel."

“I saw the event in the newspaper three years ago and thought it would be something fun for my kids to do,” said Roa, 39, of Westbury. “This is our third year coming. I wanted to make it a tradition, so that one day my kids bring their kids to this.”

Lillie Lederer, 4, and her sister Laura, 6, and brother Dean, 2, sat at a table among dozens of children cutting paper into snowflakes to be displayed over the weekend.

“It’s a nice holiday event to come to and just in time for Christmas,” said their mother Jessica Lederer, 35, of Levittown. “They absolutely loved the miniature train, making snowflakes out of pieces of paper and running around with the other kids.”

Roa couldn’t stop smiling, watching her daughters run around, play and sing holiday songs.

“It gets them out of the house to do something fun on the weekend,” she said. “It brings them peace, togetherness and friendship, just in time for Christmas.”

Above: Nicole Cefaloni, 5, of New Hyde Park, her sister Gia Cefaloni, 3, and their cousins Patrick Marchiselli, 6, of Bayville, and Charlie Marchiselli, 2, watch a miniature train move around the track at the Town of Hempstead's seventh annual “Winter Wonderland” at Clark Botanic Garden in Albertson. (Dec. 15, 2012)

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