Holidays to offer many activities

IRVINGTON, NJ — Elected officials and others in town say there are plenty more holiday events scheduled to take place in Irvington in coming weeks, now that the holiday season officially opened with the annual Holiday Tree-Lighting Ceremony in Civic Square on Thursday, Dec. 3.

Mayor Tony Vauss is scheduled to have another toy giveaway on Sunday, Dec. 20, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the New Irvington Manor, across the street from the town’s Bus Terminal on Springfield Avenue. But before that happens, Omar Bilal and the members of the Most Worshipful Garden State Grand Lodge on Sanford Avenue will be having an annual Holiday Toy Giveaway from 1 to 5 p.m. at Mt. Vernon Avenue Elementary School, in conjunction with the Friends of Irvington Park, South Ward Councilwoman Sandy Jones, the Eric Dixon Civic Association and the Garden of Paradise Grand Chapter of the Order of Eastern Stars.

Bilal said the event would feature refreshments, music, activities and more. He also said it would be hosted by him and Jones, thanks to support from MTS Towing, Club Marlos, Irvington IHOP and Papa John’s Pizza.

“As always, you know we tried to provide a service for the kids and the seniors of the community,” said Bilal on Monday, Dec. 7. “This is our second year and it’s getting bigger and bigger. As you can see, we moved it to Mt. Vernon School gymnasium. We are looking to make this a bigger and more successful event every year.”

However, Bilal said, regardless of how big the annual giveaway eventually becomes, it will never stray too far from its grassroots. He said it wouldn’t be able to do it without Jones and a lot of help from a lot of other people in Irvington and that is a good thing.

“It’s with the help of community leaders, community groups and just ordinary people that will make this event a success,” said Bilal. “We’re asking that everyone come; bring your kids. We are going to be at the gym and are going to have some fun on Saturday, Dec. 12, from 1 to 5 p.m.”

Jones said she knows she will be there. And she said she hopes everyone else in the South Ward will come out and support the holiday event taking place “in their backyard,” either by bringing a child or donating a gift to the cause.

“We can use everything that we get,” Jones said on Tuesday, Dec. 8. “It never hurts to have as much of everything — food, drink, candy, toys — as possible. And we plan to give ‘til it hurts or at least until we run out of everything, the same way that we do every year.”

Bilal said anyone interested in making a donation to the annual Holiday Toy Giveaway on Saturday, Dec. 12, can call Jones at 973-951-3520 or him at 973-641-4990. He said they can also call Claude Davis at 973-757-3492.

Vauss said he hopes the toy giveaway on Sunday, Dec. 20, at the New Irvington Manor would draw as many people as the venue can handle safely. He said, even though they only plan to give away 100 toys to select children and families, that doesn’t mean the event is not open to everyone in town who wants to come out and participate.

“There’s so many events happening around town,” Vauss said at the Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony in Civic Square on Thursday, Dec. 3. “I’m just happy to be in support of many of them, especially the special one that’s coming up, our yearly Christmas event we’ll be having. It’s just ready to set the stage for 2016 and we kick everything off.”