BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Thousands of families from Berkeley Heights and surrounding communities gathered downtown on Saturday night for the third annual Winter Walk.

The night started with the tree lighting in Peppertown Park, led by Santa Claus who arrived with his elves atop a fire truck. A fireworks display followed the tree lighting.

Once the tree was lit, people could walk along a closed Springfield Avenue where various local business created a winter wonderland of fun for the community to enjoy.

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A popular attraction for young children was the artificial ice rink set up in the Peak Medical parking lot. Kids could borrow a pair of ice skates and skate around the rink with current members of the Governor Livingston ice hockey team. There were also hockey nets set up for kids to work on their slap shot.

“I was surprised to see a real ice rink here,” said Charlie Vlass, 11, who was at the Winter Walk with his family. “But I was also really excited because it was a lot of fun.”

A stage was set up in front of the old Berkeley Cinema and held performances throughout the night. Performances included the GL band, choir and guitar club, dancers from the Pure Movement Dance Studio, and Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts. D junk, a band comprised of local students, rocked the stage and Missing Pieces closed out the night.

Jason Procaccini, a senior at GL, plays the baritone in the GL band and stuck around the Winter Walk after the band was done playing.

“This is a really great thing that the community does and I’m really happy to be a part of it,” Procaccini said. “And it’s great to see so many high school kids here too, because this is something that’s just as much for them as anyone else in the community.”

Other attractions at the Winter Walk included two game trucks, a petting zoo, a life size snow globe, a bounce house, a Grain and Cane food truck, a mini train and a horse and carriage ride to name a few. Santa and Mrs. Claus were even spotted roaming the street and taking pictures with children who were eager to pass along their Christmas wish list.

The third annual Winter Walk was organized by the Berkeley Heights Business Community and presented by the Connell Company, Embassy Suites by Hilton Berkeley Heights and Grain and Cane along with many contributing sponsors that are listed on the Berkeley Heights Winter Walk website. 

"The Winter Walk has turned into a tradition in Berkeley Heights that we hope will continue for years to come," said Cheri Pertesis of Anything Floral and one of the Winter Walk organizers. "When you see the downtown crowded with families of all ages enjoying the night, it makes all the hard work that goes into the planning of the Winter Walk worthwhile."

The Recreation Special Events committee's tree lighting and firework show and the Winter Walk is an effort that takes months of preparation and collaboration with the over 75 participating businesses, Union County, Berkeley Heights Township, Berkeley Heights Police Department, Berkeley Heights Department of Public Works, Berkeley Heights Fire Department and the many volunteers. 

Stay tuned to TAPinto Berkeley Heights to view the Berkeley Heights Communication Committee's 2017 Tree Lighting and Winter Walk video highlights.

Related article: Santa Claus Arrives by Horse-drawn Wagon in Berkeley Heights