From the Press
 

Christmas Has Arrived!
By Caren Caterina

SPRING LAKE — Snow did not have to blanket the ground for the seaside borough to be transformed yet once again into a magical, winter wonderland on Saturday night.

Spring Lake Recreation kicked off the spirit of the Christmas season with its annual tree lighting ceremony and celebration.

In addition to Spring Lake Recreation, Saturday’s festivities were brought to fruition through the help and dedication of a myriad community related organizations, including the Spring Lake Community House [SLCH], the Greater Spring Lake Chamber of Commerce and the borough’s Business Improvement District [BID], as well as many local businesses.

Saturday’s annual tree lighting ceremony kicked off promptly at 6 p.m. at the clock on Morris and Third avenues. In the past, the festivities have been held near the flagpole at the corner of Passaic and Third avenues.

The Christmas celebration this year was moved to the Morris Avenue location — and featured a new tree.

The new tree, according to the BID, is 17-feet tall, with a 10 and one-half foot diameter at the base, and is adorned with a three-foot star at the top.

The evening event, to the crowds’ delight, also included live music by St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, based in Spring Lake, performances by members of the SLCH, hayrides, and of course, Santa and his elves.

A highlight for the local children, as well as many of the adults themselves, was seeing Santa Claus once again greet patrons with his jovial laughter on his fire truck.

The tree lighting festivities also included SLCH’s company dancers, who are considered by community house officials to be the best in their company dance program.

There was also a production number from “Scrooge,” called “Thank you very much,” starring cast members.

The production of “Scrooge” runs through December at the community house.

“It was incredible,” said BID Chairman Richard Clayton, of Saturday evening.

“It [the event] was so well-planned out by all the different organizations,” he said.

Many of the local businesses lining up either side of Third Avenue enjoyed handing out cookies, cupcakes, cider and hot chocolate to passersby, he said, in light of the Christmas celebration.

“They were all giving that out to people as they were walking around,” said Mr. Clayton.

“The area for the tree lighting was incredible,” Mr. Clayton continued. “The tree fits the space very nicely and was well-lit.”

According to Mr. Clayton, there are 5,180 LED lights on it.

“It is a terrific-looking tree,” he said.

Free hayrides around the lake were also available following the tree lighting.

“The hayride did several loops around the lake,” said Mr. Clayton.

The annual kickoff featured the famous Spring Lake train display set up at Clayton Livery and Limousine Service, 1207 Third Ave., which runs through December.

This is the 15th year of opening the offices to the public to see the German-made LGB [Lehmann Gross Bahn] train display.

Mr. Clayton said his office drew in about 700 visitors throughout the course of the day for the annual train display.

Another beloved tradition of the evening included visiting the SLCH, just down the block from the tree lighting ceremony.

There, families were able to enjoy meeting with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, as well as enjoy refreshments and treats such as balloons and candy canes.

Children were also able to have their photos taken with Santa and tell him what they wanted for Christmas.

Mr. Clayton said the community house was crowded, showing that the excitement of the Christmas kickoff did not end at the clock.

“That is the idea of having the kickoff in town,” said Mr. Clayton, to bring the community together. “That was nice to see and I was glad to be a part of it.

“It was well-choreographed and well-arranged,” added Mr. Clayton. “Everyone involved did a great job.”