Hundreds of Colonia kiddies flocked to the Evergreen Center on Inman Avenue Thursday night to catch an early glimpse of the “big man” himself. Santa Claus, in all his jolly, arrived promptly at 6:30 to take pictures with believers and to help light the Colonia Christmas tree. For seven years, this citywide tradition has brought joy to many youngster’s hearts. This year, the yuletide affair took on a greater charitable meaning.
Straightaway, the Colonia Girl Scout choir caroled famous songs, Let It Snow, and Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town, to begin the night. Donning their best festive hats and red and green attire, noticeable anticipation was in the air. As news of Mr. Claus’s arrival spread, their singing became adorably filled with jitters. At one point in the performance, the Girl Scout conductor had to refocus the young lady’s attention amidst Santa’s arrival on fire truck.
Just behind the choir lay a magnificent scene. Animals of the nativity scene harmoniously frolicked together as they waited to be greeted by awestruck boys and girls. A real- life camel very cutely received petting and took pictures with his many fans. Equally, goats and sheep were also on display, but naturally received less attention.
Finally, St. Nick’s grand arrival-the moment everyone had been waiting for- was marked by a humorous hiccough. As Father Christmas ascended to the peak of the still dim Christmas tree, his bucket lift temporarily stalled. As a spectator pointed out, the jolly ol’ guy, well… prefers chimneys. Nonetheless, after some chuckles from the crowd, Santa continued on his way- and in no time the countdown to Christmas in Colonia had begun.
Kids and adults alike loudly and zealously tallied down from ten. With the help of some magic Christmas dust, the beautiful twinkling evergreen came to life. Later, Santa waved ferociously from above the timber, and just about everyone clapped and cheered. Of course, this year’s tree was ornamented with large multicolored bulbs and topped with a shimmering white star.
“The lighting of the Christmas tree was really a magical moment… with the children’s choir in the background,” recalled Bryan Barros, a Colonia High School student who witnessed the ceremony for the first time.
Additionally, both a food drive and a Toys For Tots gift collection took place this year, adding purpose to a nigh of fun. Children attending were able to understand the true meaning of Christmas- giving. As a result, event organizers were able to collect an unprecedented amount of non-perishable food for the needy during the course of the night.
Compiled immediately after Santa’s arrival, were a massive amount of donations. Soon, the crowd followed him into the Evergreen Center where collectors gathered an unprecedented number of items. Concurrently, happy volunteers handed out hot chocolate and popcorn inside. Christmas carols boomed through the very large crowd.
Debbie Meehan, Woodbridge Township councilwoman for the 5th Ward remarked, “We’ve had probably the best turnout we’ve ever had… It is an awesome community event, and hopefully this will build children’s memories for the rest of their lives!”
Undeniably, the tree-lighting festivities helped bring joy to the Colonia community. The smile on each child’s face said it all. In a time of great division, Thursday night’s events served as a reminder of the importance of generosity. As the gathering concluded, the town left with a greater appreciation for of Christmas giving. Assuredly, this beloved Colonia tradition will live on for generations- bringing joy to children year after year.