BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The most magical time of the year will soon be here -- and for the fifth year, the Berkeley Heights Winter Walk ignited excitement and joy on Saturday to kickoff the holiday season. There’s truly no better way for the community to get into the holiday spirit than to bundle up and head downtown to enjoy the Winter Walk festivities, entertainment and attractions presented by the Berkeley Heights Business Community.

This year's Winter Walk drew a larger than ever crowd and has been deemed by many the "biggest event" of the year.  And with the new 3 to 6 p.m. timeframe, the crowd was a multi-generational mix that included more young families and grandparents. 

"The 2019 Winter Walk was, once again, a fantastic event for all those who attended and had the opportunity to experience the true spirit of Berkeley Heights," said Councilman Peter Bavoso. "Neighbors out and about together, walking through our downtown and interacting with our businesses with a fun and festive spirit of the season!"

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What started as a grassroots campaign to draw the community downtown has exploded into a do-not-miss memory making tradition. You can't help but get in the holiday spirit with the street abuzz with Clydesdale horse-drawn carriage rides, children ice skating, an ice sculptor with his chainsaw, and sounds of holiday music heard throughout -- not to mention photo ops with Santa and Mrs. Claus and the stilted Snow Flakes. 

Springfield Avenue was transformed into a winter wonderland  of attractions that kept kids, parents, grandparents and "empty nesters" entertained thanks to the generous support of presenting sponsors The Connell Company, Embassy Suites and Grain and Cane; gold sponsors Peak Medical and Atlantic Health; and the silver and bronze business sponsors and participants. Click here for a full list of sponsors and participants.  

Click here to view slideshow.

The Gov. Livingston band was the last to perform at the Winter Walk and played holiday songs by Peppertown Park in anticipation of Santa's arrival on the fire truck and the lighting of the tree. 

Santa made it through the excitable crowd to the stage and joined Mayor Angie Devanney and members of the Township Council. Santa asked the crowd to do something special. --  "I have been coming to this town for many many many years. -- In this town, there is one person that I want to thank tonight -- he has been behind the curtain for so long -- making events like this happen. His name is Tom [Barton]. When I count to three, can everyone yell, 'Thank You Tommy B'." And the crowd did what Santa asked and screamed a well deserved "Thank You Tommy B" for his many years as Recreation Director responsible for planning and facilitating the tree lighting, as well as the Summer Concerts in the Park series and many other community events. 

The crowd then pointed to the tree and counted down for the lighting of the tree and firework show donated by Garden State Fireworks.

"The Winter Walk would not be possible without the support, sponsorship and participation of the Berkeley Heights Business Community and organizations that funded and put on such a great family event," said Winter Walk co-chair Hilary Boothby of Anything Floral.  Boothby, along with co-chairs Cheri Pertesis and Bobbie Peer, recognize it takes a village to pull off events such as this. "We want to send a very special thank you to our amazing volunteers, the police, fire, EMTs, DPW, local landlords, the mayor, town administrator, Berkeley Heights Communication Committee, Recreation Department  and extra, extra love to Tom Barton, who helps us make this all possible. You all helped make the magic happen," said Boothby. "Remember to keep your business local so that we can continue such a great Berkeley Heights tradition!"