story & photos by Alyssa Vera |

Hundreds of volunteers gathered to decorate over 50 christmas trees at the 4th annual “Deck the Halls” event at Islip Town’s historic Brookwood Hall in East Islip Tuesday night. 

Those who were on-hand teamed up to adorn their assigned trees in garland and ornaments, bringing bagfuls of their own decorations as well.

“I love the history and the architecture of this building,” said Islip Town Councilman Steve Flotteron, “and my concern was, ‘How do I refurbish this building when taxpayers can’t afford to pay their taxes to begin with?’”

So four years ago, Flotteron founded Friends of Brookwood Hall — an organization composed of for-profits, nonprofit, and individual residents from Islip Town and beyond.

The group helps maintain the mansion by hosting events like Tuesday night’s, for which community groups, such as Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, and businesses reserve a tree to decorate for $35.

Flotteron told GreaterBayShore any funds raised are being put toward the latest project at the mansion property: a Romanesque garden located behind the home that disappeared over 70 years ago.

“Most people donate their services for the day,” said Lynda Moran, the executive director of the Islip Arts Council, which is based at Brookwood Hall.

Those people included DJ from Top Hits Entertainment. The hot chocolate and cookies were donated, and the Islip High School concert choir engaged the crowd with Christmas carols.

“This is my second year coming and it’s magical,” said Islip resident and Cub Scout cubmaster Liz Goronarone. “It’s nice to give back.”