"Eddie was really looking forward to seeing Santa," said Milly Cruz, Edwin's mother. "He was a good boy all week, just waiting to see Santa. When I told him that it was canceled, he was worried that Santa wouldn't get a chance to get his Christmas list."
Although the snowstorm postponed Winterfest on Thursday, it didn't stop the fun day from proceeding.
"We've never canceled it before," Mayor Nicholas Sacco said. "We weren't about to start now. So we went for the postponement. We notified everyone in schools and told them that the event would be held on Friday." Things were just fine a day later. On Friday evening, approximately 2,200 residents, young and old, showed up for the fine array of holiday fun.
An 11-block stretch of Bergenline Avenue was cornered off so the youngsters could enjoy the parade, the rides and the activities. The North Bergen High School Key Club volunteered its services and was dressed as popular children's cartoon characters like Pikachu, Blue's Clues, and Scooby Doo.
The North Bergen High School Marching Band performed. There were Christmas carols everywhere.
And little Eddie Cruz got his chance to see Santa after all.
"I was happy to see him," Edwin Cruz said. "I waited two days to see him."
Apparently, Eddie wasn't alone.
"There was a long line of kids who waited to have their pictures taken with Santa," said Mayor Sacco, who had to leave the festivities early because of the fatal fire at the Cullum Apartment complex. "I didn't know how it would turn out with the postponement, but it really turned out to be a great day after all. I thought attendance would drop off considerably, but it didn't."
Sacco said that the event was a success, thanks to the countless businesses along Bergenline Avenue that cooperated fully with the event.
"We had all different kinds of people chipping in," Sacco said. "The business community really came through."
Winterfest has become a staple of the North Bergen Recreation annual program for the last five years. It has grown in size and number over the years and has become more and more popular.
Even Mother Nature couldn't stop it this year.
"The people I talked to all had a very good time," Sacco said. "It was cold and there was a lot of snow on the ground, but they had fun. It was like a winter wonderland. I'm glad that we were able to hold it after all."