BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - It's unanimous, or almost unanimous -- Saturday's daytime Winter Walk was a huge success and the right decision was made to move the event -- a great time was had by all that attended this year's winter wonderland of fun!

A tough decision was made by the event organizers, in conjunction with the Recreation Department, Township and County authorities, to shift the usual nighttime event to the daytime due to the looming rain storm Mother Nature was sending our way. The businesses, police officers, DPW, vendors, organizations, entertainment and volunteers all made adjustments to shift the start time of the popular event that has become a must attend tradition in Berkeley Heights to kick off the holidays. 

Although you lost some of the nighttime ambiance with the lighted store fronts, the holiday magic continued for the children and adults, alike. You couldn't help but feel the Berkeley Heights pride. Families and friends enjoyed their time at the Winter Walk with a multitude of memory making photo ops with Santa and Mrs. Claus, the Grinch, Cindy Lou Who, Olaf, and with the snowflake stilt walkers, and the balloon snowman. Lines quickly formed for the ice skating rink, horse and carriage rides, life-size snow globe, cotton candy and for a visit and photo with Princess Elsa and snowman craft at Berkeley Hardware and Paint. 

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The Connell Company, Embassy Suites and Grain and Cane restaurant were the presenting sponsor for the third consecutive year. The success of the event is due to the level of participation by the local  businesses and organizations. Many businesses hosted entertainment at their stores including an acoustic guitar player, a brass quartet, face painting, balloon and caricature  artists to name a few. Click here to visit the event website for a full list of sponsors and participants. 

The Gov. Livingston Concert Band kicked off the entertainment stage with a song list of favorite Christmas Carols. The children's entertainment stole the show with the Pure Movement tribe of 60 dancers that drew a crowd while dancing to a medley of holiday pop songs, followed by Laura's Dance Studio that continued to spread the holiday spirit with their talented performances, and Abby Mustacchi took the stage and sang "All I want for Christmas is You." Jim Skidmore emceed and closed out with his band Missing Pieces.

As the Winter Walk was ending, hundreds of kids lined the street to await the rock star arrival of Santa in the bucket of BHFD Tower 1 to light the Township's tree. Mayor Bob Woodruff and Santa had the crowd count down and as soon as the tree was lit, the fireworks went off to cap off the event. 

It may have been Santa's magic, but the rain miraculously held off and started to come down within minutes after the event was over as many attendees filed into the restaurants to enjoy a nice evening out in downtown Berkeley Heights. 

A common sentiment of this year's time change was that the new time provided a more family friendly atmosphere which attracted more grandparents and young children. Many expressed that this daytime change should be considered for years to come.  

For event organizers Cheri Pertesis and Hilary Boothby of Anything Floral and Bobbie Peer of TAPinto Berkeley Heights -- since the inception of the Winter Walk four years ago, the event has been about bringing the community downtown to enjoy an event sponsored by the businesses and organizations that participate. Because of the generosity of sponsors and participating businesses, the event keeps getting better each year. They appreciate the cooperation and help of Police Chief John DiPasquale, DPW, Recreation Director Tom Barton, the businesses and volunteers that were affected by the necessary changes made for the enjoyment of the community. 

Continue to spread the holiday cheer and remember to shop local during the holidays and all year round.

Check back in with TAPinto Berkeley Heights for slide show of photos from the day.