Irvington Christmas tree-lighting ceremony goes above and beyond

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IRVINGTON, NJ — The Christmas tree-lighting event in Irvington on Wednesday, Dec. 7, brought residents together to kick off the holiday season. Hosted by Mayor Tony Vauss, the event included an inflatable snowman bounce house, an ice skating rink, a train ride for children, food, and toy giveaways accompanied by a picture with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Speakers included state Sen. Renee Burgess, Council President Jamillah Beasley and Councilwoman October Hudley.

The mayor also invited the Florence Avenue Elementary School and Union Avenue Middle School choirs to perform at this year’s event.

“We always invite our local middle or elementary schools to have students perform and showcase their talents at the annual tree lighting,” Vauss told the Irvington Herald.

This marks the eighth year that Vauss has hosted this ceremony to promote holiday spirit in the township.

“My biggest goal, year after year, is to bring people together,” Vauss said. “I just want what’s best for the community.”

Vauss, who is in his third term as mayor, said he is consistently looking for new ways to bring holiday spirit to Irvington.

“The ice skating rink is new; this is the first time that we’re providing that for the residents,” Vauss said. “We’re still trying to make new ways to spread the holiday spirit.”

During the event, the Irvington High School JROTC gave a flag salute and pledged allegiance to the flag. Guest DJ Lil Taj and his father, DJ Antoine Qua, provided upbeat music throughout the night. And children were able to enjoy the performance of a local juggler on stilts.

“We are looking to add events and participants to our Christmas tree lighting every year,” Vauss said. “If residents or anyone has a recommendation for who to add to the tree lighting, come to town hall and let your voice be heard.”

Burgess and Irvington Township Council members then addressed the crowd, wishing everyone a merry Christmas.

“Thank you for coming out to this tree lighting to celebrate togetherness and holiday spirit in these uncertain times,” Burgess said. “From my family to yours, we are happy that you are here and able to celebrate the holiday season. Please, continue to be merry and spread Christmas spirit. May we see all of you in the new year. Stay safe and God bless.”

During the event, Irvington offered two food lines for residents who may be facing food insecurity, as well as residents hungry at the event.

“There are some residents who do not have enough to eat at home or forget to go shopping for groceries. Whatever the reason, we have committed to feeding those who are hungry and come out to this tree lighting, because we are investing in our community,” Vauss said.

According to organizers, this year’s event saw the biggest crowd since before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Thank you for coming. Remember to look out for each other, stay safe and be merry this holiday season,” DJ Lil Taj said at the event.

Photos by Javon Ross