Despite below freezing temperatures, North Bergen parents brought their children to James J. Braddock Park yesterday to participate in the third annual holiday tree lighting ceremony.
The crowd on hand was able to keep warm thanks to the free hot chocolate provided by a local merchant: Rose’s Italian Deli.
Everyone then gathered in front of the approximately 20-foot spruce tree at the intersection of Palisade and Woodland Avenues, and with the Franklin School Chorus playing their musical instruments, they sang Christmas carols such as Walking in a Winter Wonderland.
Some of the children took advantage of Monday’s snowstorm to playfully throw snowballs at one another.
And then a very special guest arrived.
Santa Claus appeared on the back of a North Bergen SUV police cruiser before disembarking to shake hands first with Mayor Nick Sacco, as well as Commissioners Hugo Cabrera, Frank Gargiulo, Julio Marenco and Allen Pascual.
He then spoke with the children, while many of their parents were snapping photos with their smartphones.
And then the moment that everyone was anticipating arrived.
Anthony Vainieri, chairman of the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders, led the countdown to the official tree lighting and he was enthusiastically joined by everyone in attendance.
The spruce tree brightened up with blue, yellow, green and red lights that generated joyful applause.
Vainieri was responsible for organizing the event, which he said was easy thanks to the hard work of his staff. He noted that these type of events help to bring the community together and closer.
“That’s exactly what we are doing. Keeping North Bergen strong, and keeping Hudson County strong,” the freeholder chair noted.