Occupy Wall Street Protesters Spend Christmas in Zuccotti Park
MANHATTAN — It was a very Zuccotti Christmas.
Occupiers belted out carols, danced to Irish fiddle tunes and even took communion during a festive Dec. 25 reunion at the former Occupy Wall Street campsite in Lower Manhattan.
"This is my home, so what better way to celebrate Christmas than with the family?" said Esmeralda, 17, who joined the movement in October and brought her friends down from Spanish Harlem to participate in the day's festivities. "That we continue to be here together when it counts, it means something."
It wouldn't be Christmas without a plate heaped high with holiday treats — but it just wouldn't be Occupy without an altercation with police, who caused a brief stir when they stopped volunteers with bags full of cookies and pies for a planned 3 p.m. Christmas potluck meal from entering the fenced-off square.
But the holiday spirit prevailed. Prevented from distributing food in the park, hungry protesters lined up along the sidewalk for hot pasta and cold sandwiches, apple crumb cake, rugalach, and an colorful variety of Christmas cookies.
An NYPD spokeswoman could not immediately comment on why food was blocked from the park.
After eating their fill at the potluck, revelers joined in a spirited rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine," "Joy to the World," and a few Christmas favorites ever-so-slightly tweaked to better conform to the group's message, including "Occupy Homes for the Holidays," in place of "I'll Be Home For Christmas."
A protester tuned his fiddle and the park briefly filled with dancers, their cheeks flushed as they whirled and high-stepped past police barricades.
The Nativity, too, was repurposed for the protest.
"The Virgin Mary was homeless too — should she go to jail?" asked protester Jason, 32, who has been sleeping in churches since proteters were cleared from the park in November.
But the movement's old believers weren't the only ones occupying Christmas on Sunday — there were also some of the youngest up-and-coming generations as well.
Five-year-old mini-occupier Aidan Ortiz of the Bronx charmed fellow protesters with his plastic trumpet, while brother Ethan, 3, clapped in time.
"They love it," said mom Kimberly Ortiz, 27. "We usually come every weekend."
Aidan wasn't alone. Cosmo Gyuro, 5, of Hudson, convinced dad Rabs, 31, mom Marly Hornik, 38, and little sister Luna Clara Lubell, 2, to brave the cold so he could spend Christmas at Zuccotti Park.
Like many, Hornik said OWS represnted the true spirit of the holiday season, which she claimed is often lost in the consumerist rush of the season.
"At Occupy Wall Street, we don't spend money to show our love—we give and receive freely," said occupier Eric Richardson, 29, of Newark. "The spirit of Christmas is the same. It should be Christmas every day."