IRVINGTON, NJ — Irvington’s annual Christmas and Holiday Tree-Lighting Spectacular went off without a hitch on Wednesday, Dec. 7, in a fun-filled ceremony on the steps of the Municipal Building in Civic Square.
“This is our annual tree-Lighting ceremony, where we invite residents out from the town and we treat them so well, from candy to gifts to musical selections from Florence Avenue School and Union Avenue Middle School, which was awesome,” Mayor Tony Vauss said Wednesday, Dec. 7. “We had hundreds and hundreds of kids out and we’re getting late into the evening and we still have hundreds of kids here, so it’s a good feeling.”
According to Irvington Recreation and Cultural Affairs Director Donald Malloy, there were good feelings all around on Wednesday, Dec. 7, but he said that has been the case for years.
“It’s been great, really great; great turnout, as we do every year, but we got a lot of folk that came out this year,” said Malloy on Wednesday, Dec. 7. “When I came on the center stage and really introduced myself and looked out, there were people all the way out in the street and I was like: Oh my God. But it’s good. It’s a joyous time for us.”
The holiday event featured an appearance by Santa Claus and Santa’s helpers, as well as a cast of characters from children’s books, movies and videos, such as Elmo from PBS TV’s “Sesame Street” and Jack Skellington from “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” which have become staples at the yearly ceremony. There were also live performances by the Union Avenue Middle School Music Magnet Chorus and the Florence Avenue Elementary School Chorus.
Children who showed up early for the Tree-Lighting Spectacular had the opportunity to take a free photo with Santa from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Fire Department Headquarters. The Santa photo shoot is sponsored by the Irvington Springfield Avenue Business Improvement District.
“First we had the photos with Santa, then we had the tree lighting, and now we have the toys — presents for kids of all ages under the age of 16,” said Irvington Chamber of Commerce President Sandra Ferguson on Wednesday, Dec. 7. “The chamber, the BID, the township, the fire department, the police department and that’s a good thing, because it brings joy; it brings people together. Holiday season, everybody should have the spirit and, right now, this is what we’re doing.”
The highlight of the event was when Santa made his way into Civic Square, riding atop one of the Irvington Fire Department’s red engines, and his subsequent toy giveaway for children of all ages.
That was definitely the highlight for Yumary Delacruz, 12, a student at Union Avenue School and member of the Music Magnet chorus that performed at the event, and her brother, Ronald Delacruz, 11, who attends the same school.
“I came out because it was fun,” Ronald said Wednesday, Dec. 7. “I mostly just got candy, even though this is Christmas and not Halloween. But I want a cell phone, a Samsung, for Christmas, because I don’t have a phone. If you like candy, you should have come out to this. All my friends like candy, so they would have liked this.”
Yumary also said she wants a cell phone for Christmas, too, but she also said she didn’t mind getting a lot of candy too, even though their mother didn’t necessarily approve.
“I think everyone from my school was here tonight,” Yumary said. “I liked singing and performing tonight, because my mom came and it was really fun and she took pictures and had her gifts, too. I saw Santa Claus, too and even though I don’t believe in him anymore, I like to have fun.”
Dawensha Adolphe, 10, and her relatives, Nikicha Adolphe, 14, and Darryl Adolphe, 11, said they like having fun, too, but what Dawensha really liked was winning one of the three big stockings available, thanks to the Irvington Chamber of Commerce and the Irvington Springfield Avenue Business Improvement District.
“I’m happy that I won the big prize, but I’m also surprised that I won,” Dawensha said. “I’m not going to share. For Christmas, I want an iPad.”
Nikicha said she got a wireless speaker from Santa at the event.
“We saw him and took a picture with him and I got a speaker,” Nikicha said, adding, “I wanted and iPhone SE for Christmas, because I’ve never had an iPhone and I never had a phone before. My dad and my mom weren’t here today, so I would tell her that she missed out a lot and I would tell my dad that always works a lot that I wanted to spend time with him for Christmas, too. I miss him.”