Orphan Tree Lighting

Connetquot Elementary School’s choral group, the Connetquot Chords, provided melodious musical accompaniment to the second annual Orphan Tree Lighting at the Islip Art Museum’s Brookwood Hall on December 7.

Presented by the Islip Arts Council and East Islip Historical Society, the tree lighting celebrates East Islip’s history, and commemorates the 1942-1965 era when Brookwood Hall served as the town’s orphanage. The Neo-Georgian style mansion at 50 Irish Lane in East Islip was built in 1902 by the architectural firm of Delano and Aldrich, and today is the home of both the Islip Art Museum and Islip Arts Council.

At the tree lighting ceremony, a beautifully decorated replica of the orphans’ Christmas tree was placed in the window of the museum’s office, just as it was over 50 years ago, and a former orphanage resident gave a speech recalling fond childhood memories of Brookwood Hall.

Directed by music teacher Eileen Egbert, Connetquot’s caroling children sang holiday favorites such as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," " Silent Night" and "We Wish You a Merry, Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Wonderful Kwanzaa." “The students' strong and melodious voices filled the halls of this grand mansion,” enthused Principal Deborah Smith. The standing-room-only crowd was served hot apple cider and cocoa, “for continued warm thoughts throughout the season,” as Smith aptly put it.

The Connetquot Chords also perform this Saturday morning at Radio City Music Hall, singing prior to the 9 a.m. Radio City Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes show.