CAMDEN, NJ— Just when Roosevelt Plaza couldn’t be filled with any more Holiday cheer on Wednesday night, a fire siren sounded in the distance. Those gathered out front of Camden City Hall looked toward Market Street, and two fire trucks appeared. As the trucks made a left down 5th Street, la large man wearing red and donning and large white beard could be seen hanging off the back of the truck, waving to the crowd — St. Nick had arrived.

Santa Claus was there to help Camden Mayor Frank Moran light the nearly 40-foot Christmas tree outside of city hall, and kick-off the holiday season in Camden — and, of course, to spread Christmas cheer.

“This is the time in the season for giving. This is the time of the season to celebrate the wonders of who we are. This is the time of the season to celebrate love, family and unity as a city, and look at those that are less fortunate than us and extend a helping hand,” Moran said, backed by the Camden City Council, and other city, county and state officials and surrounded by the crowd.

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Those who came out on a frigid night were rewarded with free hot chocolate and cookies served from the Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services Truck, and treated to Christmas such as “Jingle Bells” and “Feliz Navidad” performed by a Salvation Army Brass Band.

The Catholic Partnership Schools Choir was also on hand to sing, including a stirring rendition of “Hallelujah.”

Children had the chance to take pictures with Santa Claus, and ride on Elvis, a New Jersey State Police Horse.

“If you are fortunate, pay it forward. Let’s help someone who is in need,” said state Sen. Nilsa Cruz Perez. “This is a great city, with great people, with great leadership.”

Next Friday and Saturday, Roosevelt Plaza will undergo even further holiday transformation for the 2018 Teddy’s Toys at Winter Wonderland. From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 14, and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15, Roosevelt Plaza will become a winter wonderland for Camden children ages 1 to 13. There will be rides, carriage rides, Santa Claus, refreshments and a toy giveaway [one per child].

Registration is required at The deadline to register is Tuesday, Dec. 11.