BELMAR, NJ — Pyanoe Plaza glistened under the glow of thousands of tiny white lights for Belmar’s traditional tree lighting last night — a welcoming beacon for the hundreds who gathered for the festivities just as the skies turned dark.

While the Belmar Elementary School chorus sang lighthearted tunes of the season under the canopy of twinkling luminescence, the growing crowd waited for the lighting of the towering holiday tree and the arrival of Santa Claus on December 1.

And once the switch was turned on and Santa took his place on a bench in front of the tree, with a helper at his side, young children patiently standing in line joined him. One by one, they came to tell him what’s on their Christmas lists, as parents snapped photos to capture these precious moments.

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At the same time, older children scurried to the awaiting Belmar Fire Department truck on Main Street and climbed aboard for rides around the neighborhood. With sirens blaring and lights flashing, the truck traveled around several blocks, its guests laughing and waving from the chilly top perch.

However, Santa’s work in Belmar isn't over. The borough’s Department of Public Works will be helping him deliver wrapped holiday gifts to Belmar children on Wednesday, December 13, beginning at 4 p.m.

Parents can drop off their wrapped and clearly labeled toy for Santa to deliver with the child’s name and the delivery address (Belmar addresses only) to the Belmar Public Works Department, 805 13thAvenue, between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. The last day to drop off a wrapped and labeled toy is Monday, December 11.

For more information, call Michael Campbell, director of public works, at 732-681-0452.