A pine time! Downtown rings in the season with MetroTech Center tree lighting

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Holiday duo: Santa Claus took a moment to pose with developer Bruce Ratner, who has presided over the tree lighting for 29 years.
Sing song: Kids from Brooklyn Music School regaled a Downtown audience with some holiday tunes.
Chance of rein: A couple of reindeer graced the Christmas-tree lighting.

It’s a beloved holiday tradition — gone wrong!

Hundreds of revelers on Tuesday gathered outside this newspaper’s Downtown offices at MetroTech Center for the neighborhood’s annual tree lighting — which for the first time in nearly three decades almost didn’t happen, because the bulbs strung around the 60-foot plant failed to light on cue.

The snafu momentarily stupefied Old Saint Nick, who flew in from the North Pole for the occasion, and sat stunned atop a cherry picker waiting for the lights to turn on.

“What do we do now?” asked Santa Claus, as nearby snow machines clicked on anti-climactically, blowing fake white stuff in front of the unlit tree.

The jolly old elf then turned to developer Bruce Ratner — who built the commercial center, and stages the annual lighting of what he claims is the borough’s largest Christmas tree — but the real-estate bigwig didn’t have a quick answer, saying only that “this hasn’t happened in 29 years,” and leaving Father Christmas to work the crowd.

And work the audience Santa did, telling everyone watching they were very good this year, and getting attendees to shout “Merry Christmas” in unison at the exact moment that the tree miraculously lit up.

The rest of the event went off with out a hitch, delighting locals with free treats from MetroTech–based eateries La Defense, Korilla BBQ, and Starbucks, and performances by musicians from Brooklyn Music School and dancers from the Brooklyn Ballet.

But the biggest thrill, of course, was the return of live reindeer, which made their first appearance at the lighting in 2016.

This year, horned damsels Clarice and Ginger hoofed it to Brooklyn all the way from Pennsylvania to make the occasion unforgettable for kids — and adults, according to the animals’ owner.

“You’d be surprised at how many adults have never seen a reindeer, and don’t know that reindeer are real,” said David Hoover. “But for a kid, their face just lights up when they see a real reindeer.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 8:53 am, December 6, 2018
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