WEST ORANGE, NJ — The Christmas tree-lighting event in West Orange on Saturday, Dec. 3, brought residents together to kick off the holiday season. Hosted by Mayor Robert D. Parisi, the event included a petting zoo; a bouncy castle; vocal performances by the West Orange High School glee choir, led by director John Hellyer; and a station for parents and children to meet and take pictures with Santa.
This year’s festivities marked the first time that the WOHS glee choir has performed at this event.
“Usually, we would invite the Seton Hall music group to come down and perform, but my administration decided to partner with the West Orange High School to perform and showcase their talents this year,” Parisi told the West Orange Chronicle.
Earlier in the day, the Downtown West Orange Alliance held an open house at Washington Elementary School, which included a trolley tour throughout the township, pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and a stuffed animal workshop at the public library.
“We are always excited to bring people out and celebrate the town and all of its history,” DWOA Executive Director Megan Brill told the West Orange Chronicle. “Anything we and the mayor can do to bring people downtown and appreciate this town, we’ll do it.”
Residents and visitors learned about the town’s history during the guided trolley tour, which featured information about famous Llewellyn Park residents, downtown development and esteemed township resident Thomas A. Edison. The tour was led by various West Orange officials throughout the day.
This tree lighting marked one of the last town events to be hosted by Parisi, as he is retiring from the position at the end of December after three terms in office.
“I’m excited; I’ve held the office for 12 years and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. Now is the time for me to enjoy being with my wife and children,” Parisi said. “I will always be available to serve my town.”
West Orange Township Council President Susan McCartney is the current mayor-elect of West Orange.
“I’m really excited and ready to serve my town with the same passion and dedication as former Mayor Parisi did,” McCartney told the West Orange Chronicle.
Due to the rain, the Unique Performance Arts Center dancers could not perform at the tree lighting.
Photos by Javon Ross