On a chilly December night, Harford Chabad made Bel Air's Shamrock Park just a little warmer.
Chabad's Rabbi Kushi Schusterman oversaw the town's fifth annual Hanukkah celebration Sunday, ushering in the sixth day of the eight-day Jewish holiday by lighting a large menorah.
About 40 people gathered on the bandshell stage to watch the menorah lighting, eating traditional oil-fried foods such as latkes and jelly doughnuts while Hebrew songs played from a stereo.
"It's a wonderful idea and it's better attended than I thought it would be," Margie Sherman, of Bel Air, said. She came to the lighting for the first time with her husband, Roger, and her dog, Amy, a golden retriever mix.
Sherman said they usually just light candles and have a special meal for Hanukkah.
"I am really happy they have this to educate everyone about the holiday," she added.
Schusterman handed out glowing menorah necklaces and personal candles to those in attendance before the main event of the menorah lighting.
Each person held a glowing candle as Lisa Fuller lit the "shamash," or helper candle, used to light the others on the menorah.
The attendees then recited traditional Hanukkah blessings, praising God for commanding the menorah lighting and for performing miracles, as Lisa Feulner lit the rest of the candles.
Attendees were glad to be around family and friends for the holiday, known as the "Festival of Lights," which marks the rededication of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem and a miracle in which a small cruse of oil for the temple menorah lasted eight days.
Newly-elected County Executive Barry Glassman was invited to the lighting, but was unable to make it. Glassman did attend Harford County's other public menorah lighting, held at Temple Adas Shalom in Havre de Grace the previous evening.
"It's a happy season. It's light, it's celebrating," Andrew Brisker, of Brooklyn, noted.
He was at the lighting with his mother, Duyen Brisker, who said: "My husband is Jewish, so we light the candles."
Andrew Brisker added it was nice of Schusterman to bring people out to the park.
"He does a wonderful job of bringing the Jewish community here," he said of Schusterman. "Now that he's brought his presence, it has definitely awakened a lot of people."