Little North Pole Lights Up Again
The Little North Pole is officially lit for the season, bringing cheer once again to all who pay a visit. The Neponsit home, which is transformed into a winter wonderland every year, was lit for the first time this winter in a grand ceremony on Saturday, December 7th.
Large crowds showed up to 144-03 Neponsit Avenue to watch the North Pole come to life once again. After a countdown, Tony Sirico aka Paulie Walnuts of The Sopranos pushed the button which lit up the house. The crowd cheered and smiled as hundreds of thousands of lights beamed and animated figures danced and moved all around the decorated home owned by Joe Mure.
To keep guests warm and well-fed, there was free food available throughout the evening. Everything was complimentary thanks to generous businesses that donated food and time including Vetro, Ragtime and Lenny’s Clam Bar in Howard Beach, and local establishments like Pico, Boardwalk Bagel, Jameson’s, Dalton’s and Beach Bagels. “We had major participation from people that came out and helped and made the event a huge success,” Mure said.
Before the countdown for the lighting, guests were treated to performances by dancers from the Steps Ahead Dance Studio and plenty of singers, including tenor Christopher Macchio and Amanda, who started the evening with “The Prayer.” Performances continued throughout the night by stars like Lucas Prata, Reina, disco queen Carol Douglas and much more. The entire presentation was hosted by Goumba Johnny of WKTU and Joe Causi of WCBS 101.
A very important guest also made an appearance. Following a parade of police cars and fire engines, Santa Claus arrived with his elves on the back of a flatbed truck at the end of the event. He sat on the stage with Mrs. Claus at his side and every child at the event was given a toy.
After Sandy, the Little North Pole was scaled down in 2012. Instead of the extravagant display, Mure decorated his home with 26 lit trees for the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct., and held a much smaller ceremony. Mure says that some of the decorations that were in his garage were destroyed in the storm, but most of it had been in storage off the peninsula and survived. Mure is still trying to repair his basement, but with the help of nearly 100 volunteers, he started decorating the house in early November to bring back the Little North Pole in full force this year.
“It was important for the kids. It was important for some of the adults,” Mure said for why he decided to bring the Little North Pole back. “I think for a long time, people that live in Rockaway have been having a difficult time with things. We need more happy moments. People need to be able to smile and live with more joy even though they’re still having issues.”
Mure has turned his home into the Little North Pole for 18 years. Besides bringing joy to the community, he also does it to raise funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Since his own son has diabetes, Mure is personally impacted by the disease and tries to help the foundation work towards finding improved treatments and hopefully a cure. Between a fundraising cocktail party before the lighting and the lighting itself, Mure says he’s raised more than $100,000 so far and he expects to raise close to $200,000 throughout the season. At the event, a raffle for a two-year lease on a Mercedes was held to raise money and the Howard Beach Kiwanis Queens West Division presented an $8,000 donation. A donation box is also set up outside the house for anyone willing to make a contribution. All of the money goes to the foundation. Any expenses for the event or the upkeep of the Little North Pole comes out of Mure’s pocket.
Despite having to spend a lot of time and money to organize the annual lighting ceremony, Mure says it’s all worth it. “There’s no question in my mind that if you have a child, and you’re out there and watching the show, and you watch Santa Claus as he pulls up and gets out in front of the crowd as every performer is singing Santa Claus is coming to town, you have a memory of Christmas that will last the rest of their life in that kid’s mind,” Mure said. “Imagining the impression left in that kid’s head is a good thing. What’s important is that the children are happy.”