For the 6th consecutive year, a 30-foot tall, traditional Christmas tree stands in the Parque Las Nereidas, across the street from La Concha Renaissance Resort, to usher in the holiday season, gifted by Renace Condado, a nonprofit, nonpartisan community action group dedicated to beautifying and improving the high-tourist zone, and co-sponsored by the Ashford Presbyterian Community Hospital.
Now an iconic symbol of Christmas in Condado, the tree was mounted and lit earlier this week to the sounds of the Puerto Rico Police band, with about 100 people present to watch as the tree was blessed and lit. Renace Condado President José Feliciano was on hand to lead the festivity.
“This tree symbolizes the community of Condado; not a party or a government, but the community in action, working together to make our Condado a better place for residents, business owners and tourists,” said Renace Condado former President John Fucile, speaking with pride about the fir.
“In the past seven years, Renace Condado has completed more than 25 major projects in the area, including cleaning parks, installing and repairing fountains, painting over graffiti, planting trees, providing help to the Police, and so much more,” he said. “But I must say that this tree is closest to my heart. It is the most visible example of what a community can do, working together with government agencies, to improve our environment.”
“Condado is the Fifth Avenue or the Champs Elysee of Puerto Rico, how could we not have this magnificent tree in the heart of the zone?” Fucile said.
In 2006, Renace Condado petitioned various government agencies for permission to take care of the once overgrown and dark park. With the multi-million dollar renovation and reopening of La Concha Hotel across the street, the park had been neglected and was home to vagrants, pigeons and trash.
Renace Condado, with the cooperation of various agencies, cleaned the park, painted and repaired the benches and the wall and began installing the tree each Christmas, a tradition that has now become a much anticipated annual event in the Condado.
“While we need and welcome the support and approval of these government agencies they also must know that Renace Condado is not a fly-by-night operation: We are serious about our Condado and will do whatever we need to do to keep it beautiful and a place for residents and tourists alike to be proud of and enjoy, especially at this magical time of the year,” Fucile added.
Meanwhile, Pedro González, CEO of the Ashford Presbyterian — and a major sponsor of the tree — said the community hospital feels that by working with Renace Condado it generates a significant return-on-investment for the hospital and the entire community. However, he could not specify in dollars what that result is.
“It’s hard to put a dollar figure on it,” González said. “But I know when people stop me and ask ‘So, Pedro, when is the tree going up?’ that’s the best ROI we can have.”
A second tree will be erected and lit this weekend at the other end of Condado, in Parque de La Liberdad, across from the hospital and Antonio’s Restaurant.
Author María Procaccino is a Condado resident and co-founder of the Renace Condado community group.