The air was chilly, but no one seemed to mind as they waited patiently for the arrival of Santa Claus on Mount Prospect Avenue at the third annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, presented by Mount Prospect Partnership (MPP) and Councilman Anibal Ramos, Jr. and his staff.
More than 200 children from Newark’s North Ward had their photos taken with Santa with a free download available through the Partnership’s website, GoMtProspect.com. Performances by the Newark Boys Choir plus the Jazz Ensemble from Art High School and other student and faculty performers added to the festive streetscape, closed to traffic for the block surrounding the celebration site at 650 Mount Prospect Avenue. Holiday treats, free hot chocolate and a family-friendly community atmosphere had the organizers already thinking of new ways to make next year’s celebration even bigger and better.
“I would like to thank the entire board of the Mt. Prospect Partnership, especially Julia Ferreira, Valerie Murphy, Lissette Morales, Fred Williams, Chris Virginio, the Partnership’s Operations Manager Chris Bernardo and everyone else who participated in this year’s tree lighting event,” stated Frank Petolino, MPP’s Executive Director. “On behalf of the Partnership I would also like to thank the Newark Police and Fire Departments, Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr. and his staff, the Newark Boys Chorus, Arts High School and especially Santa. The hundreds of children who came were completely happy and I know that all had a great time.”
In addition to hundreds of local residents and business owners, community members were joined again this year by Councilman Anibal Ramos, Jr., Councilman Carlos M. Gonzalez, Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, Freeholder Rolando Bobadilla and representatives of both the Newark Fire and Police Departments.
Lizmary Minier was the first person on line to meet Santa, with hundreds of other children patiently waiting behind her in a line that starting forming before 4 PM for Santa’s 4:30 PM arrival. Lizmary lives on Broadway, but her family had seen the colorful posters around the area posted by the Partnership and hopes Santa will bring her a Baby Alive Doll on Christmas Day.
Councilman Anibal Ramos, Jr. led the countdown to the official lighting of the tree, noting the event was a wonderful example of what is possible in Newark when people from communities like the North Ward’s Mount Prospect Avenue come together in a spirit of cooperation and commitment on behalf of the neighborhood where they live, work and invest.
“You would not have seen something this wonderful 5 or 6 years ago,” added Mario Moyano, a local business and property owner who is a member of MPP’s Board of Trustees. “So much has changed for the better and I am excited about the future because things will continue to change in a positive way.”
The day started early for Santa, who visited local schools, community and senior centers, traveling in style with lights flashing and sirens blaring on one of the Newark Fire Department’s finest fire engines.
“Our holiday celebration has grown each time we have presented it, and we expect next year to be bigger and better than ever,” Petolino noted. “The Partnership is pleased to sponsor the event because it brings people together, showcases local businesses and restaurants and highlights the clean, safe and welcoming environment we work hard each day to support on Mount Prospect Avenue. In turn, we encourage everyone to show their support by shopping and dining locally during the holiday season and throughout the year.”