It is hard to imagine a better setting for a holiday “Winter Wonderland” event than a spacious community location with hundreds of locals gathered under glistening snowfall with hot food, caroling, dancing, a guest appearance by Santa Claus and a tree lighting, as the sun gives way to the night sky. Granted, the snow was missing, but that did not stop Wantagh community members from enjoying everything else that the Wantagh Preservation Society’s Winter Wonderland had to offer.
Nearly three dozen of Wantagh’s small businesses and local vendors set up shop at the Wantagh Preservation Society on Wantagh Avenue as residents from all across southeast Nassau County waded through the crowd to buy food and goods.
Pies-On Wheels, a local small business that cooks pizza on site in an oven that has been built into the back of a truck, brought a modified haul to the Preservation Society. Elizabeth Greco, the owner of the mobile pizza making company, was present at the Winter Wonderland, spinning her delectable dough in the air and serving up some piping hot pizza in the cold weather.
“This is what we love to do for the community of Wantagh,” Greco said. “Everyone I’ve spoken to today has said that [the Winter Wonderland] is great for the community to come together.”
On Railroad Avenue, next to Mulcahy’s, sits Little Kitchen, a small restaurant with great personality and flavorful food. It’s owners, Carlo Stanisci and Lina DeFalco, set up their tent at the Winter Wonderland and served up hot soup and meatballs to a hungry crowd.
“Well, we sold out of meatballs, pretty quick,” Stanisici said of his steaming hot treats that were a hit at the holiday event. “We are just super-excited to be here. It is great to be a part of such a big community and see all of the neighborhood’s small businesses come together at an event like this.”
The Wantagh Preservation Society’s museum was a high point for those interested in the town’s long history. For those seeking refuge from the cold, the vintage train car on the society’s premises was a huge hit with families lining up for a chance to tour the train and take a picture with Santa.
Lifelong Wantagh resident Thomas Brennan, who had attended the Winter Wonderland with his young niece Maggie Schwartz, of New Jersey, waited on line to get his niece a photo with Santa.
“(This event) is great for Wantagh,” Brennan said. Then, after asking Schwartz what her favorite part of the event had been, she agreed it was the old train on the Wantagh Preservation Society’s premises.
Members from the Wantagh High School lacrosse team set up a stand to sell candy, snacks and refreshments and 2019 Miss Wantagh contestants were also in attendance. The Wantagh Chamber of Commerce’s Judy Cunningham, State Legislator Steve Rhoads, donning a green Santa hat, and Town Councilman-elect Christopher Carini were in attendance as well.
Just as nightfall had struck, the Wantagh Preservation Society lit up its Christmas tree. As patrons began to file out and vendors started to close down shop and pack their cars to head back home after a long day in the chilly Wantagh air, the tree’s brightly lit star could still be seen in the rearview mirror driving down Wantagh Avenue.