9-Year-Old Lights West Hartford Christmas Tree For Sister Battling Cancer

Older sister steps in to light Christmas tree for younger sister battling cancer at CCMC

WEST HARTFORD — When Allie Sullivan tapped the Christmas tree in Blue Back Square with her pink wand Thursday, the lights — and her face — lit up.

"It was awesome. I've never done anything like that before," Allie said.

Allie, 9, and her parents, James and Emily, reveled in the cheering crowd that included Santa and Mrs. Claus and their elves. But one family member was missing from the tree-lighting: Allie's sister Kiley, 5, who is battling cancer at Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford.

Kiley could not leave the hospital for the event, so Allie stepped in for her.

"It's nice for her to feel special, too, and to feel important," said Allie's mom.

Her father said he appreciated Blue Back Square's willingness to let her be part of the tree-lighting, and thanked Carol Goodyear, manager at the Lucy active wear store, for making the arrangements.

Goodyear said she first met the Sullivans when she organized a fundraiser with Imagine Yoga in September to raise money for pediatric cancer research and they have stayed in touch.

The tree-lighting was, "very amazing, very moving," Goodyear said. "And it's a reminder that Christmas is not about the gifts; Christmas is about the spirit."

The annual Holiday Stroll included horse-drawn carriage rides, gingerbread houses, Hannukah celebrations, and performances.

Robert Lipiner, 19, a leader of Boy Scout Troop 44, was helping to usher visitors on and off the carriage rides. During breaks, Robert rode his unicycle around Blue Back Square.

"I get a lot of looks," he said, but "it's a lot quicker than walking."

Lipiner said he's been coming to the Holiday Stroll for years. "It's just a lot of fun, all the events going on," he said.

Matthew Guerrera, 18, a senior at the Kingswood Oxford school, founded the Holly Jollies carolers two years ago with help from Narineh Torosyan, 16. Seven of the 11 group members sang for Holiday Stroll visitors Thursday.

Torosyan said the group chooses traditional songs "everybody knows" so the crowd could sing along and get into the spirit.

"It's so much fun, this is the highlight of my holiday season," Guerrera said.

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