Christmas Village's _The Present_ (1) (1).jpg

'The Present' is the latest addition to the Christmas Village, complete with 27 feet of red and white LED lights.

The Christmas Village at the newly renovated Love Park opened on Thanksgiving, but the authentic German market tied a bow around its final touches on Nov. 26 with the lighting of "The Present."

As the latest addition to the beloved holiday attraction of European eats and seasonal wares, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and Fairmount Park Conservancy have partnered to erect the 27-foot-tall, walk-through holiday gift box. In the downpour, Mayor Jim Kenney, other political figures, sponsors and nonprofits officiated the lighting of the interactive attraction’s 100,000 bulbs.

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Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney talks about those less fortunate this holiday season, including the migrants currently being tear gassed at the border under the Trump administration’s orders.

Even in the bright lights of the holiday season, Kenney was quick to remind those about the migrant caravans, filled with children, that are being tear-gassed at the border.

“This time of year can be stressful and hectic, and sometime you lose track about what it’s all about in the first place,” said Kennery. “Keep people in mind who are less fortunate, support people at the border who are being tear gassed and all that stuff that is going on in our country.”

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Even in the freezing rain, officials and locals came out to celebrate the lighting of 'The Present' and remember those without this holiday season. |Image: Andrea Cantor

Continuing the event’s theme of remembering those without was Sister Mary Scullion, president and executive director of the nonprofit Project HOME that fights against homelessness.  

“Homelessness is a devastating experience that is impacting the lives of many Philadelphians and just has been exacerbated lately due to the opioid crisis,” said Sister Scullion to Philadelphia Weekly. “During this holy season, it just inspires us to retain that hope that is going to defy all odds, because somehow with the power within all of us, we can end and prevent homelessness in our city and in our world.”

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President and Executive Director of Project HOME Sister Mary Scullion reminds those about the people without homes during the holidays.

In the midst of the freezing rain, leaving many unsheltered defenseless to the elements, Sister Scullion continued about what the everyday citizen can do to help.

“People can help in multiple ways. One thing people can do is be an agent of change in our political system, that we use our resources as a community and as a nation to invest in affordable housing and the education of our kids and health care and jobs at livable wages,” said Sister Scullion. “That’s something we can all do. Get involved. [In the words of Mahatma Gandhi], ‘Be the change you want to see.’”

The Present | Giving Tuesday, Nov. 27 -  Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. 11am-10pm. LOVE Park, 1500 Arch St. philachristmas.com/

GIVING BACK

Officially opened on Giving Tuesday, the Present is a free attraction that also provides a channel for people to donate to causes. People are able to make a $5 gift donation to one of three causes via text, and Bank of America will match it. Visitors can also sign a gift tag after making their donation to hang on the present. 

To contribute your $5, text to one of these causes:

1) Philly’s Parks: Text PARKS to 501501 to donate to Fairmount Park Conservancy. | myphillypark.org

2) Children’s books: Text BOOK to 20222 to donate to Welcome America’s holiday book campaign for Philadelphia Parks & Recreation youth programs. Every $5 donation will total four purchased books. | phillyholidayfestival.com.

3) The homeless: Text HOME to 80100 to donate to Project HOME. Donations from The Present will go toward food and supplies for the Hub of Hope in Suburban Station. | projecthome.org.

TWITTER: @ANDREAJCANTOR

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