BARNEGAT, NJ – In years past, Barnegat residents looked forward to the tree lighting at the Township’s Municipal Hall. While holiday traditions certainly have their place, there’s always room for improvement. In this case, it was a matter of preparing for what seemed to be inevitable.

“Mayor Al Cirulli and I thought that construction would be underway on our new building,” explained Committeeman Al Bille. “We needed to find an alternative that would still brighten up the town.”

It didn’t take long to settle on the right place to highlight the greetings of the season. Gazebo Park became the ideal choice – situated in the middle of the downtown area and adjacent to the roadway. While it wasn't the first time the Township decorated the gazebo, it seemed a novel idea to conduct the tree lighting there.

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Setting up the holiday fare became a collaborative effort. “The Garden Market, which is located in Barnegat, donated a live Christmas tree and bows for the gazebo,” Bille shared. “The Township also received discounted rates for wreaths and garland.”

Santa’s elves appeared in different forms for the tree lighting and to decorate other parts of the Township. Kathy Herring of the Recreation Department coordinated the efforts.

First, the Barnegat Garden Club took on the amazing task of trimming the flower barrels and adorning them for the holidays.

Jay and Bob from the Department of Public Works strung up the white lights in the park. That said, DPW workers posing as elves did something even more amazing.

“The power company wanted $500 each to get our street decorations working,” said Bille. “Our guys got them operational with the help of a truck they borrowed from Stafford.”

December 5th marked the first time Barnegat lit the tree in Gazebo Park. Miraculously, the rain held off that evening until after the mayor flipped the switch. And, then, that’s when Barnegat’s own magic continued with some slight pitter-patter.

As the bright lights went on, it shouldn’t be hard to guess who appeared to all the wondering eyes. Twas Barnegat’s Santa and Mrs. Santa there to welcome all to the start of the season. Soon after, they were off to visit the streets of children of all ages.

“The location of Gazebo Park stands prominently in the center of many of our local businesses,” Bille concluded. “We plan to do the tree lighting there every year from now on, as well as other similar Township events.”

Stephanie A. Faughnan is a local journalist and Director of Writefully Inspired, a professional writing and resume service. Feel free to contact her at