Silver Lake kicks off holiday season with drive-up event

Phil Keren
Kent Weeklies
Joel Testa as the Grinch gets a kiss from his daughter Sofia, 2 at Silver Lake Garden Club's traditional Christmas tree lighting on Dec. 6 at Christmas Tree Island along Silver Lake Boulevard. Gift bags for adults and children were handed out to each car as well as an ornament at the annual event. [Mike Cardew/Beacon Journal]
Santa greets a young walk-up visitor during Silver Lake Garden Club's traditional Christmas tree lighting on Dec. 6 at Christmas Tree Island along Silver Lake Boulevard. Gift bags for adults and children were handed out to each car as well as an ornament at the annual event that had a different format due to COVID-19 [Mike Cardew/Beacon Journal].
Christmas ornaments rest on a table at Silver Lake Garden Club's Christmas tree lighting on Dec. 6. Gift bags for adults and children were handed out to each car as well as an ornament at the yearly event which had a different format due to the COVID-19 pandemic [Mike Cardew/Beacon Journal].
Santa smiles at a young visitor in a car at Silver Lake Garden Club's traditional Christmas tree lighting event on Dec. 6 at the median along Silver Lake Boulevard. Gift bags for adults and children were handed out to each car as well as an ornament at the event which had a new approach due to the COVID-19 pandemic [Mike Cardew/Beacon Journal].
Sidney Thomasson, 6 hands out a gift bag at Silver Lake Garden Club's annual Christmas tree lighting on Dec. 6 [Mike Cardew/Beacon Journal].
Santa waves to children in car at the Silver Lake Garden Club's Christmas tree lighting event on Dec. 6. This year's event took place in a drive-through format. Gift bags for adults and children were handed out to each car as well as an ornament at the annual event. [Mike Cardew/Beacon Journal].
Sidney Thomasson, 6 plays with her cousin Sofia Testa at Silver Lake Garden Club's traditional Christmas tree lighting event on Dec. 6 [Mike Cardew/Beacon Journal].
Joel Testa as the Grinch greets a minivan at Silver Lake Garden Club's traditional Christmas tree lighting on Dec. 6 at the median along Silver Lake Boulevard. Due to the pandemic, this year's event was a drive-through program. Gift bags for adults and children were handed out to each car as well as an ornament [Mike Cardew/Beacon Journal].
Joel Testa as the Grinch hams it up with Santa Claus at Silver Lake Garden Club's traditional Christmas tree lighting event on Dec. 6 at the median along Silver Lake Boulevard [Mike Cardew/Beacon Journal].

SILVER LAKE — The COVID-19 pandemic meant the village's annual Christmas tree lighting event had a new look last Sunday afternoon.

In a typical year, attendees gather on the median along Silver Lake Boulevard and listen to the Silver Lake Singers perform carols. Children visit with Santa Claus one-on-one and tell him what they want for Christmas. A countdown then occurs with a community member flipping the magic switch to illuminate the Christmas tree. Attendees then go to the boathouse for hot chocolate and doughnuts.

Due to COVID-19, none of those typical components could happen at the Silver Lake Garden Club's yearly program to kick off the holiday season. On Dec. 6 residents lined up in their cars along Silver Lake Boulevard and drove up to the median where the lit Christmas tree stands. The drivers were greeted by Santa's elves and given both an ornament and a goodie bag for each child and adult in the car.

Both Santa Claus and the Grinch were onhand to spread holiday cheer as seasonal music played over a sound system. 

Kathie Testa, who chaired the event, said there were about 70 cars that drove up to collect goodie bags and ornaments. Testa said her son, Joel, played the Grinch and her grandchildren dressed up as Santa's elves and helpers. Testa also thanked her husband Paul for helping with the event set-up.

Testa added her oldest granddaughter coordinated the distribution of goodie bags and ornaments. Each child and adult in a car received a goodie bag and each family received an ornament.

Though it was a typical chilly December day, Testa said, "the smiles of the children warmed our hearts. It was all worth it."

Testa said each child's goodie bag contained a Santa Claus coloring book, a Christmas treat, a candy cane and a hot chocolate packet. Each adult's goodie bag had the same contents except the coloring book.

"Everyone seemed to enjoy it and have a good time, and thanked us a lot," said Testa.

Mayor Bernie Hovey said the event was "very successful," and added, "There were cars coming by virtually the entire hour…it was well-received by residents."

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at pkeren@thebeaconjournal.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.