Springfield’s 2023 Tree Lighting Festival lights up the township

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SPRINGFIELD, NJ — The weather outside wasn’t too frightful, but Springfield’s 2023 Tree Lighting Festival was certainly delightful! Nearly one thousand people came out for the event, which was on Tuesday, Dec. 5, outside Town Hall and the First Aid Squad, Springfield.

Most of the excitement happened earlier in the evening — with live performances from Taye McQueen, a singer and actress who graduated as part of the Jonathan Dayton High School Class of 2011; and students of Front & Center for Performing Arts of Springfield. Boy Scouts of America Troop 73 directed the crowd with the Pledge of Allegiance. Mayor Christopher Capodice led the countdown to the tree lighting. At his side were Deputy Mayor Alexander Keiser, Committeeman Richard Huber, Director of Recreation Adam Lieb and Assistant Director of Recreation Brendan O’Reilly.

An array of other holiday festivities continued until slightly after 8 p.m.

The Springfield Firemen’s Mutual Benevolent Association Local 57 passed out doughnuts and hot chocolate. Firefighter Justin French said he loved the family event for “bringing the community together.”

The Springfield Recreation Department gave out hot pretzels, the Springfield Business Improvement District distributed local coupon books and the First Aid Squad gave out hand warmers and glow necklaces.

Township officials in attendance included Linda Donnelly, municipal clerk; Police Chief John Cook; Fire Administrative Captain Michael Mastroeni; First Aid Squad Chief Apu Mullick; Office of Emergency Management Deputy Coordinator Frank Applegate; Registrar of Vital Statistics Tamara Vega; Department of Public Works, Buildings and Grounds technician Robert Sabol; and Springfield Patriot Chamber of Commerce Co-Chairperson Mike Scalera.

Christine Palma, of Springfield, was there with her twin girls. She said, “It’s so nice, family oriented and very festive.”

The Rev. Roberto Fois of First Presbyterian Church, Springfield, said the event “brings community, wonderful diversity coming together and celebrating the holiday — no matter what holiday you celebrate.” Throughout the evening, the church was collecting grocery gift cards from local attendees to donate to Springfield families in need.

Daughters of the American Revolution, Church and Cannon Chapter, had an information table with literature on Wreaths Across America.
Deonna Dellasala, of Springfield said, “As a community, it’s a fun activity.”

Her 6-year-old daughter Sadie added that she loved Santa, with whom she had just posed for a photo.

Gina Santangelo, of Springfield, said, “It’s a great way for the community to come together and celebrate the holiday.” She was gathered with her family, who were tossing snowballs in the Snow Throw inflatable.

Woody Duncan, who was entertaining the crowd dressed as a toy soldier and walking on stilts, said, “I came a long way!” He lives in Port Republic, just north of Atlantic City.

DJ Drew of Summit Soundz played Christmas hits such as “Santa Baby” and “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” in honor of the Grinch character, who was gleefully creeping around and posing for photos with children. DJ Drew later switched it up from Christmas classics to pop tunes such as “Firework,” by Katy Perry.

“This is my fourth year,” he said excitedly.

Photos by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta