The more the merrier: Roselle Park’s tree lighting

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ROSELLE PARK, NJ — Roselle Park held their annual Christmas tree lighting on Friday night, Dec. 2, but this time the borough did it in spades.

This year, the borough lit not one, but two Christmas trees. The trees, located next to the gazebo at the corner of Chestnut and Grant streets in Michael J. Mauri Park, were planted years ago by the borough’s forebears, said Hokanson. “Our forefathers planted them and they grew,” Hokanson told LocalSource proudly in a phone call.

The two trees are 40 feet tall and were decorated by the borough. A third tree, Hokanson said, was decorated by the girl scouts. “It’s an old tradition that has been going on for years,” said Hokanson of the tree lighting. “It kicks off the holiday season here.”

Besides the tree lighting, Santa and Mrs. Claus also paid the borough a visit, and other festivities included pony rides, face painting and performances by high school students and residents, who sang carols and rang bells to usher in the upcoming holiday.

Standing next to the mayor at the podium was 10-year-old Alex Perez, who was named the event’s grand marshal. Alex was chosen for this honor after his great show of bravery on the Garden State Parkway in September, when he alerted his bus driver that the school bus he and six other students were riding was on fire. Many credit Alex with saving the lives of everyone on board. Because of Alex, the bus driver was able to pull over and get all the students off safely before the bus was engulfed in flames.

Hokanson lauded Director of Roselle Park’s Casano Community Center Rupen Shah for his involvement in the event. “He’s a great man,” said Hokanson of Shah. “He’s done so much for this borough in the two years since he’s been here. He’s like me — he’s a 15-year-old kid who can’t wait to see Santa.”

Hokanson also lauded Roselle Park’s Local PBA 27 for handing out gifts to children at the event.

Hokanson was anticipating a great turnout when LocalSource spoke to him before the event. “We are ready to go and we think mother nature is going to cooperate. I think it’s going to be a great turnout. It’s going to be a magical night.”

And indeed it was, as many borough residents came out to enjoy the festivities.
New this year were the pony rides, a circus, face painting, and pictures with Mickey, Minnie and Santa.

Some of the performers included the Aldene School Chorus, Sherman School Chorus, Roselle Park Middle School Handbell Choir, and Roselle Park High School Concert Choir.

Residents were also treated to free pizza, hot chocolate, doughnuts and cookies, sponsored by the borough’s Local PBA 27, Roselle Park Education Association, Roselle Park Community Center Association and Dunkin Donuts.
Hokanson summed up the evening after the event. “Fantastic,” he said.