ELIZABETH, NJ—Its finally arrived, the big night when all of Elizabeth will turn out to watch the Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and this year it will feature a special March of the Wooden Soldiers.

The March of the Wooden Soldiers will be coming to Elizabeth Avenue tonight just in time for the Elizabeth Avenue Partnership’s (EAP) Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at Union Square Plaza.

The tree lighting will take place on Tuesday, November 28 at 5:30 p.m. on Elizabeth Avenue between First Avenue and High Street, the “Square” as it is known will be adorned with 15 Toy Soldiers, made of wood and created by the Edison Tech Wood Shop and Elizabeth Public Schools (EPS) Art Classes, 15 to be exact.

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The Minuteman Statue located at the “Square” embodies the 15 brave soldiers who held off the British in time for George Washington and his Continental Army to march from Springfield to Elizabeth to defeat the British troops during the Revolutionary War Battle of 1780.  These 15 wooden soldiers will be placed around the Minuteman statue.

The partnership between the EAP and EPS is the first of its kind linking students with the business district in the town in which they live and attend school, creating a sense of community pride, according to Dave Strochak, EAP Executive Director. “Elizabeth Avenue comes alive during the holiday season and this year even more so than ever with these colorful wooden soldiers. The art classes at these 15 schools and the Edison Tech Woodshop should be commended, under the direction of Art Director Tracy Monteiro, for an amazing job. We are really excited to be working with the talented students and teachers in our great Elizabeth school system.”

According to Monteiro, the plywood soldiers will stand 6ft. in height and 3 feet in width to adorn Union Square Plaza during the holiday season, bringing the schools artistic talents into the community for display.  “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 schools' presence in Elizabeth and have parents see the pride our students have within the schools, outside of schools grounds,” said Monteiro.

“Mr. Strochak is the lead person in this as well as organizing the beautification and city-wide events and I am currently working with him on other projects as well and is a wonderful and creative person.” Monteiro added, “These toy soldiers will not only represent our schools once painted but will line the streets during the holiday season for all to enjoy when visiting Elizabeth.  Toy Soldiers were chosen as they are not religious figures and each one will be painted differently, but with the same template to keep them uniform while denoting the school in which they came from.”

“The EAP 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. “We are so pleased to be partnering with the Elizabeth School’s Art Departments to bring these amazing Toy Soldiers to our district to enhance our holiday decorations.” We look forward to working with the EPS on future projects,” he said.

Union Square Plaza will be very festive tonight as Santa Claus will arrive via horse-drawn wagon accompanied by Mayor Christian J. Bollwage and a children’s choir from the Boys and Girls Club of Elizabeth. FM Radio Station 102.7 Fresh FM will be broadcasting live on site while a holiday elf will entertain the children with balloon sculptures. Hot chocolate and refreshments will be provided while holiday music will be played before the official Tree Lighting Ceremony at 6 p.m.

The EAP is the District Management Corporation designated by the City of Elizabeth to manage the Elizabeth Avenue Special Improvement District (SID). Since its inception in 1999, the EAP is responsible for the image and appearance, safety, security, parking, street cleaning, events, promotions and quality business development.

The EAP is also charged with attraction and retention of the district, which is steeped in history and ethnic heritage. Known as the oldest commercial corridor in Elizabeth, the Avenue is home to numerous 2nd and 3rd generation old businesses and served as a key Revolutionary War portal during the Battle of 1780.

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


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