Secaucus officially kicks off the holiday season with the first full-day holiday bazaar on Dec. 3 that will feature vendors, food, music, contests, face painting, crafts, and raffles, followed by music and entertainment, and the annual Christmas parade and tree lighting.
Located at Plaza Center, the bazaar is scheduled to take place from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. It’s meant to get residents in the spirit of giving with opportunities to purchase candles, toys, gift baskets, holiday crafts, and jewelry, among other items.
Music will begin at 5:30 and the parade will kick off at 7 p.m, followed by the tree lighting.
People can expect to see Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus.
A full day of festivities
“We decided to make it a whole day event,” said Micki Halpin, planning committee co-chair. Halpin said planning for the festivities begins immediately after the preceding year’s holiday activities. This year, the committee came up with a number of new ideas. The committee includes a mix of community volunteers including co-chair Paulette Halpin, Donna Przychodzki, Fran Petrizzo, and Susan Flanagan and town representatives including the mayor, Regina Bator, Vinnie Massaro, and others.
“It is a lot of fun,” said Halpin about why she enjoys volunteering each year to organize town events like the holiday festivities. “It has been a long time since we’ve had these types of events. So it is fun to be part of the planning.”
Toy drive and gift wrapping
People to People International GIFT student chapter and Wrap 4 A Smile Foundation are hosting a gift wrapping contest and a toy drive from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the bazaar. Contributors can compete in a gift wrapping contest for a $50 gift card. Prizes will be given out in three categories: children 12 and under, teenagers, and adults.
After the bazaar, music and entertainment begins at 5:30 p.m. that includes Filipino Christmas carolers, a one-man band, and the Secaucus High School choir.
Parade of surprises
“We have a lot of surprises,” said Gonnelli. While the town wants to keep residents guessing about special appearances in the parade, people can expect to see Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus – and in place of reindeer they’ve brought with them Clydesdale horses. Various town officials and groups will march in the parade including the Secaucus High School Marching Band, the Girl and Boy Scouts, recreation teams, and a pink fire truck. Families are invited to walk in the parade and dress children and baby carriages festively.
In its second year after a long hiatus, the parade begins at 7 p.m. at Huber Street School and ends at Plaza Center. The town will shut down four streets for the parade: Paterson Plank Road from Huber Street School to the center of town, Humboldt and Golden streets, and part of Front Street. Vendors will set up by the new gazebo in the center of town.
Special Christmas banners are on display throughout town that were created with funds from the Animal Shelter and will feature a cat on one side and a dog on the other with “Seasons Greetings” and “Happy Holidays.”
The town hopes to encourage pet adoptions and will open a satellite space of the shelter that day at the community center located at 145 Front St. that gives individuals the opportunity to get to know the cats and dogs available for adoption. Chris Conti, local animal activist, was asked to coordinate the effort and has enlisted the support of John Shey and Rick Pomer, who happens to be a creative director for Macy’s in Herald Square. The group will redesign the ground floor space in a holiday pet theme. The space will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the day of the bazaar.
Also at the community center, the mayor and council will open the town’s first new Tot center with a special Christmas party for 3- and 4-year-olds accompanied by adults from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on that day. The second floor space, formally a basketball court, was converted to a toddler-friendly room with murals painted by local artist Kendal Garvin and plenty of toys and games.
Traditional tree lighting
After the parade, the town will gather in the town center for the 16th annual tree lighting. The original tree that stood in the center of town was cut down earlier this year, which caused a bit of controversy as expressed in a web blog by former resident Richard Damato, one of the family members that donated the original tree on behalf of his parents and the DeGennaro family. He said that his family felt disrespected and should have been notified.
“[The tree] was too wide at the base [and] that is why it died,” said Gonnelli. He said the town planted a new tree in its place three weeks ago, which will be decorated with LED lights by Home Depot. “It is going to take time to grow. We really want it to take root…This one should survive.”
He said the town will place two plaques by the base of the tree in recognition of the Damato and DeGennaro families.
The town will have a total of three Christmas trees including the one by the gazebo. A 22-foot artificial tree with a four foot star will stand in front of Marra Drugs and a resident donated a 30-foot blue spruce that will be decorated and placed by Shetik Field.
Residents can enjoy hot pretzels, cocoa and coffee throughout the evening.
The rain date is scheduled for Dec. 4. The town is still accepting volunteers to support the holiday events. For more information, call (201) 330-2000.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at email@example.com.