Santa did not trade in his red suit for Bermuda shorts, but the warm weather certainly brought out the crowds for South Orange’s second annual Hometown Holiday.
The festivities started at 1:30 p.m. with Santa posing for photos at the South Orange Firehouse.
At 5 p.m., Santa climbed aboard his red sleigh — er, firetruck — and led hundreds of happy South Orangers, young and old, in a parade up South Orange Avenue to the town tree at Academy Street and Irvington Avenue. It was a sight that had passing traffic and pedestrians smiling and waving as a brass quartet, Santa and firetruck, and the festive parade of marching tiny tots and remarkably unfrazzled parents followed Santa up the town’s main thoroughfare.
At Irvington Avenue and Academy Street, Santa disembarked from the truck to cheers and was thanked by Matt Glass, Chair of the South Orange Village Center Alliance, which organized the event. Glass said that today’s tree lighting was the most highly attended ever — he speculated that the weather may have been a factor — and that 134 families had posed with Santa at the firehouse.
Then — aided by hundreds of excited voices — Santa and Village President Sheena Collum counted down to light the tree.
After the crowd shouted, “One!” the switch was thrown and the throng hooted and clapped, and oohed and aahed. No-one was in a rush to go home as many lingered to listen to the brass band play holiday tunes, take pictures with Santa, enjoy hot cocoa and cookies, or pose in front of the tree.
Click on any image below to see a slideshow of photos from today’s Hometown Holiday tree lighting: