Annual Tree-Lighting Spectacular returns to Irvington

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IRVINGTON, NJ — The township of Irvington celebrated the season with loved ones as it hosted holiday photos with Santa Claus, followed by a Christmas Tree-Lighting Spectacular at Town Hall on Dec. 8. The event returned with all its bells and whistles after a hiatus last year due to the pandemic.

Hosted by Chris Gatling Recreation Center director Donald Malloy, this year’s Irvington Christmas Tree-Lighting Spectacular was an unforgettable experience for attendees young and old. 

The celebration featured the Florence Avenue Elementary School and the Union Avenue Middle School choirs singing Christmas carols; a firetruck strung with dazzling, bright lights; and a toy giveaway — a staple for the township every year. According to Mayor Tony Vauss, the event was well attended.

“This was our annual tree-lighting ceremony, and we usually have some of our students from Florence Avenue School and Union Avenue School; their choirs sang on the steps of City Hall. They did about two or three songs each, and then we had our Tree-Lighting Spectacular,” Vauss told the Irvington Herald on Dec. 13. “Everyone came, of course, and we gave away close to 1,000 toys, which is the same thing we do every year. We bought 1,000 toys but we had a few left over, which was about 150 toys left over. It was a really nice event.”

According to Vauss, some of the toys were donated and others were bought from Five Below.

Vauss, who is currently traveling out of the country, said comments have been pouring in from people who are delighted by the decorations at Town Hall.

“While I’ve been away, people have been calling me and telling me how beautiful it looks in front of Town Hall because the lights are on every night. They’re still calling about that,” Vauss said. “We had Santa come in on the firetruck with a couple of elves — named Thing 1 and Thing 2. We had the Grinch and all of the characters, including the truck, which was lit with lights. We just wanted to get back to having some sense of normalcy despite COVID.”

In addition to Malloy and the mayor, Superintendent of Schools April Vauss, Irvington police officers and firefighters, and other community members helped make the event one to remember. According to Malloy, partnerships and sponsorships for the event included the Department of Public Safety, MTS Towing, Don’s Diner, IHOP, the Irvington Neighborhood Improvement Corporation, and the Irvington police and fire unions. 

Masks were mandatory and social-distancing safety measures were enforced. 

“We kept people separated. During the toy giveaway, we had the little girls enter from one door and the little boys enter from another door. They came in from opposite doors, we gave them their toys and they exited the building,” the mayor said. “This was a very successful event. I was very proud of the students — the way they performed and the way they behaved. They seemed to have fun and they liked being there. They were able to run around and participate in something finally, since COVID. Seeing a smile on everyone’s faces right before they put the masks on before they came inside the building to get their toys was great to see, and it was a beautiful event. Everyone was happy to see the lights, and they enjoyed seeing Santa coming on the firetruck.”

Mum about something special he’s planning for some lucky youngsters of the township on Christmas Eve, the mayor stressed the importance of kindness this holiday season. 

“I want us to get in the habit of being nicer to one another. Sometimes, it doesn’t always work out that way, but be nicer to one another and respect one another more. Everything can grow from there,” the mayor said.

Photos Courtesy of Tony Vauss