by BWW News Desk 

At a recent event, held at Settepani Restaurant on Malcolm X Blvd., the president and CEO of the 125th Street Business Improvement District, Barbara Askins, officially kicked-off the countdown to the 26th annual Harlem Holiday Lights 2019 celebration. This year the highly anticipated holiday event, which is held in partnership with Manhattan Community Board #9 and #10, and dubbed, Harlem Light It Up 2019, will take place on November 20th (rain date/Nov. 25th), with activities planned throughout the day, leading up to the highlight - the Parade of Lights that will herald the lighting of the legendary 125th St. corridor beginning at Morningside Avenue and 125th St. and covering a 10-block stretch.


Over the years, the event has become a prominent part of the city's key holiday celebrations, attracting both public and media attention. Ms. Askins, who has been responsible for organizing and helping to make this event an annual tradition says, "We want to make it bigger and better every year. We want this holiday event in our community, to be something that everyone in the city will want to be a part of."

This year's three distinguished Grand Marshals are:


Laiona Michelle, an actor/singer/writer who made her Broadway debut in the 2015 hit musical Amazing Grace and recently broke box-office records at the George Street Playhouse with her performance as Nina Simone, in Little Girl Blue, a musical that she both wrote and headlined. Ms. Michelle is now the book writer on a new musical headed for Broadway in 2020, based on the life of Nelson Mandela.


Korey Wise, one of the Central Park Five, a public speaker and social justice activist, who has risen to prominence since the Five were acquitted and released from prison for a crime they did not commit. His story has been a key factor in the public and critical acclaim that the Netflix miniseries, directed by Ava DuVernay, "When They See Us," has received.


Leah Abrahamis an Ethiopian-American entrepreneur who brings a dynamic multicultural foundation to everything she does, and who has elegantly traversed work-life balance to establish a successful business in the community. This amazing woman has found numerous ways to give back to the Harlem community through her passionate commitment to the business she has helped establish, Settepani Restaurant.



Included among the numerous planned activities surrounding the Harlem Holiday Lights 2019 event, is the return participation of Disney's Marvel Superheroes; this year, Spiderman and Black Panther will be on hand for meet and greets, photo opportunities, and special appearances at various planned activities throughout the day. They will also be part of the big countdown to the Parade of Lights signaling the lighting of the 125th Street corridor.


Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, a big supporter of this event, will host her annual VIP Reception. Manhattan Community Board #9's Children's District will honor the 100th-anniversary celebration of the Harlem Renaissance with featured guest, the Swing Dance Society, in addition, there will be face painting, an appearance by the Snow Queen, and much more for the children. The Health & Fitness District, sponsored by Emblem Health, Blink Fitness, Ryan Health and Zwanger Perisi will once again set up free health screenings and will provide access to important information promoting a healthier lifestyle for the entire family. Blink Fitness will be hosting an invigorating early morning workout, and Zwanger, a premier radiology company that has joined the 125thStreet BID District, will host an open house reception and tour of their newest uptown facility.

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