ELIZABETH, NJ—The kick-off to the holiday season began Tuesday night in Union Square Plaza as Mayor Christian J Bollwage and the big guy in the red suit arrived by horse-drawn wagon.

The Square was brightly lit with holiday lights and festive music as residents gathered to celebrate the official tree lighting ceremony and the beginning of the holiday shopping season.

15 Toy Soldiers, made of wood were created by the Edison Tech Wood Shop and Elizabeth Public Schools (EPS) Art Classes encircled the Minuteman statue.as visitors crowded the square to partake in hot chocolate and cookies. Children were entertained with balloon sculptures and the anticipation of the moment when Santa would arrive.

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“These toy soldiers will not only represent our schools but will line the streets during the holiday season for all to enjoy when visiting Elizabeth," Art Director Tracy Monteiro, said.  

“These soldiers were chosen as a non-religious figure to represent all cultural backgrounds celebrating the winter season. This is a great event to help create a feeling of the school's presence in Elizabeth and have parents see the pride our students have within the schools, outside of schools grounds,” Monteiro added.

“The Elizabeth Avenue Partnership Tree-Lighting Ceremony is always a great success and marks the official start of the holiday shopping season on Elizabeth Avenue,” EAP Chairman, Angel L. Rodriguez of State Farm Insurance said.

David Strochak, EAP Executive Director welcomed the crowd and introduced some of the many dignitaries attending the event and then introduced the mayor. 

Mayor Bollwage thanked the crowd and wished them a Merry Christmas. "This is all about Christmas, all about the holidays and all about fellowship," Bollwage said. He then led the assembled crowd in a rendition of the traditional holiday tune, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and then began the countdown to the lighting of the tree.

The EAP will be holding more holiday events on December 2, from 12-3p.m.  Visitors can take free horse-drawn wagon rides around the neighborhood, on December 9, from 12-3 p.m. and on December 16, from 12-3 p.m.

Santa will be available at all the events for photos.

For more information about events or the EAP call the office at 908-590-2600 or log onto the website at www.elizabethavenue.org and follow us on Facebook at Elizabeth Avenue-The Market.

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