FLEMINGTON, NJ - This year’s Christmas Tree lighting will take place on Friday, Dec. 6 at the Flemington Veterans Memorial on Main Street.
The activities begin at 7 p.m., when Flemington Cub Scout Pack 61 begins the actual tree lighting ceremony followed by Christmas carols.
After the tree lighting ceremony, there will be a visit from Santa Claus, who arrives via a fire truck escort. Santa hands out candy canes and oranges - provided by the Flemington Rotary - to the kids who attend. Flemington Rotary has been handing out the treats since 1923 and has been the backbone for the event ever since.
Originally done by a small group of volunteers, coordination efforts were eventually taken over by the Flemington Children’s Choir and Flemington Rotary. The ceremony is Flemington Rotary’s oldest service project, which got involved just after the club had first formed just a few months before.
After the Children’s Choir ceased its operations in 1965, Cub Scout Pack 61, under Cub Master Doug Niece, took on its tasks.
Mildred Wetzel, a nine-year-old chorister, was the first Flemington resident to pull the switch to light the tree in 1923. Forty-eight years later, Mildred, then Mrs. Cost, returned to the borough for the 1971 ceremony.
Now, the Cub Scout from Pack 61 that sells the most popcorn during its annual fundraiser gets the honor of lighting the Christmas Tree. This year, that Scout is 8-year-old Bear Scout Charlie Boyce.
As in years past, Black Fish Christmas Tree Nursery has donated the tree, and Tamke Tree Service, Samuel Stothoff Company and Rowe Electric have been instrumental with the cutting, transportation, and installation of the tree and decorations. After many years of coordinating this effort for Pack 61, the Hand family has handed the reins over to the Melillo family.
Why the candy canes and oranges? Back in the 1920s, it was very difficult for children to get some candy and fresh fruit to eat. So it was a very big deal for those in attendance to get their huge candy cane and fresh orange. These days, we are blessed to be able to readily purchase these items at our local stores.
The Scouts thank Flemington Rotary, Black Fish Christmas Tree Nursery, Samuel Stothoff Company, Tamke Tree Service, Rowe Electric, Loews, Dan Butt, Carpet One, Countryside Veterinary Hospital, Cornerstone Print & Imaging, the Flemington Fire Department and Flemington Police.