EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Hot chocolate, warm cookies, Anna and Elsa in "Frozen," prayers by a rabbi, letters to Santa, candy canes, a bonfire, happy music, and a visitor from the North Pole - what's not to like about starting the holiday season here in East Brunswick?

The township's holiday opener was held last night at the municipal center, meeting all needs for spirituality and sentimentality.  Families gathered on the lawn to cuddle up and watch the ice world of "Frozen" while sipping on warm cocoa and cider.  The air smelled of fresh-baked cookies and the flames rising from a bonfire. 

The East Brunswick Youth Council and the EB Education Association passed out goodies and smiles to about 200 township residents who attended the big event: the menorah was lit, the tree burst into color, and Santa Claus came to town.

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The full program and movie started around 4:30, with families getting comfortable for the show and township workers and volunteers attending to the details.

Following opening comments by Mayor Brad Cohen, Rabbi Eisenkramer of Temple B'nai Shalom gave an invocation to start the ceremony that included a sing-along.  Phoebe Struminger sang a beautiful rendition of "Hallelujah" and then the joined the East Brunswick Girl Scouts in "Frosty the Snowman" and "Let it Snow."

The Girl Scouts then assisted the Mayor, who placed the topper on the tree last week with some help from the East Brunswick Department of Public Works, to light the tree and the menorah.

Reverend Erica Munoz of Aldersgate United Methodist Church, home of the Crisis Room and Food Pantry, led a benediction that concluded the official proceedings.

But there was till something (someone?) missing.

As summoned by the crowd in a sing-along, Santa Claus came to town last night.  No reindeer.  No sled.  Just a big, bright red wagon driven by eight tiny (?) members of the East Brunswick Fire Department.

It's official.  The holiday season has come to East Brunswick with lights, good cheer, and a sense of community.