HUNTINGTON, NY—Last year, during the height of the pandemic, a local artist was asked to create an interactive winter wonderland in Huntington Village that was also pandemic-friendly. Cass Jones designed the snowflake-covered streets that so many Long Islanders visited for photo opportunities and family fun. This year, the Huntington Holiday Spectacular is dedicated to healthcare workers, and Jones tells Patch the cause had extra special meaning to her this year.
The interactive display, billed as “lights, music and surprises,” is hosted by the Town of Huntington, Huntington Business Improvement District and Huntington Hospital.
Jones explains that the theme is extra meaningful to her, after dealing with her own and her parents’ health issues.
“Every snowflake I painted has a sprinkle of hope, and is to honor the healthcare workers that have put their lives on the line always, but especially during this pandemic.”
Jones explains that when she was designing and creating 2020’s display, she was dealing with mysterious health symptoms of her own, and trying to care for her father while he was in the hospital in the days before vaccinations. Her mother had recently passed away from cancer.
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While Jones was painting the snowflakes on Wall Street, she was also advocating for her father’s care.
“Every day I argued and fought for proper care for him. While on constant phone calls and listening to hold music, the videos of people dancing at the tree of hope, and celebrating with holiday cheer kept me going and brought me such strength,” she remembered.
Soon after, Jones was diagnosed with chronic illness that required regular infusions.
“The nurses gave me such support and comfort. Needless to say, like any treatment, my body struggled at first. Every step of the way, the nurses were there, even when I called. I would not have made it this far without them.”
When the organizers once asked asked her to paint Huntington’s winter wonderland, she explained to her doctor how important it was to her.
“I knew I had to work smarter, not harder. I painted alongside a beautiful display, most of the time at night, and alone. In those times, I thought a lot about every nurse that pushed through being tired, kept that extra ounce of patience, and treated me or my family with care. I took breaks, kept hydrating, and nourishing myself. I utilized every piece of knowledge my doctors and nurses had given me, to keep myself healthy while doing what I love. I realized I was also proving to myself that I could.”
The display is open daily and runs until Jan. 7, 2022 and is designed to be a talisman of hope in hard times.
“In 2020, we faced an unprecedented pandemic and an era of division in our nation. Despite this, our community members came together to find something to unite for, the holidays. The holiday season is filled with a special type of magic that is felt by people of all ages, religions, and beliefs. This 80 foot tree was placed in the center of our town as a symbol of hope and harmony during these trying times. Let it serve as a reminder of the strength of the human spirit and the power of a community united,” the website for the spectacular reads.
Jones agrees that her artistic vision for the display came with the same sense of hope and gratitude.
“This year the display is brighter than ever. Personally, I want to thank every single healthcare worker who has been a part of my journey. You are the keepers of all of our hope, and this year was for you.”