Flatiron Hot! Q&A: Madison Square Park Christmas Tree Lighting

Flatiron Hot! had a chance to chat with Bertie Downs, one of the organizers of Madison Square Park‘s 10th annual Christmas tree lighting, just in time for the holiday season. It required more intense planning than one might think. While you’re at it, check out our video footage of the event, courtesy of Craig Fletcher.

Flatiron Hot: What is the Madison Square Park Conservancy?

Well, we are the 501c3 organization dedicated to keeping historic Madison Square Park clean and safe and we coordinate all of the free public programs in the park: Mad. Sq. Art, Mad. Sq. Music, Mad. Sq. Kids and Mad. Sq. Eat.

Flatiron Hot: Where did you get the tree and who decorated it?

The tree is a balsam fir from Vermont. Madison Square Park Conservancy staff designed the overall décor of the tree and New York City Parks and Recreation came out for 5 days to install the tree, string the lights and hang the ornaments. It was a major effort on all parts!

Flatiron Hot: Does Madison Square Park have a tree lighting event every year? Why was this year’s so special?

Yes, we do! This was our 10th tree lighting ceremony since the Madison Square Park Conservancy was established in 2002. However, 2012 marked the centennial anniversary of the nation’s first public tree lighting which took place in Madison Square Park in 1912. Madison Square Park is pleased to continue this tradition of bringing community together to celebrate the season and we hope you and yours will continue to celebrate with us!

Flatiron Hot: Can you talk about the planning process?

It was a real group effort and required months of planning. Everyone on our staff played a part from designing the décor and planning the logistics to coordinating staff. We also had great sponsors this year who helped us realize our dream. Our 2012 sponsors included Walgreens, Marimekko, the 23rd Street Partnership and Hill Country Barbecue Market.

Flatiron Hot: Was the turnout in line with what you were expecting?

We usually attract about 1,000 people each year. I don’t have an exact count this year but I could tell that more members of the community came out to see the centennial tree lighting than ever before!

Flatiron Hot: A large gathering of small children (and sometimes parents) in close quarters can get chaotic. Was the crowd on good behavior?

We had a great crowd last night! Everyone was really in the holiday spirit!

Flatiron Hot: What are some future events in the area that folks in the neighborhood can look forward to?

Right now we have our 2012 winter art installation (brought to you by Mad. Sq. Art, one of our free public programs), Buckyball, by Leo Villareal, on display. The public will be able to drop by the park and view this until February 1.

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