GLEN ROCK, NJ - The borough government has given the nod to Santa after a request to have the jolly old elf appear on borough property on Dec. 7 was initially denied.
Eileen Hillock, one of the chairs of the Holiday Committee and a Board Member of the Glen Rock Chamber of Commerce, said she is "very glad the Council reversed its decision to allow Santa (among other characters) at our inaugural Holiday Market."
The Borough Council denied a Santa appearance on borough property at its Oct. 23 Council work session in which some council members and the mayor said they were surprised by the request.
Mayor Bruce Packer explained the reversal.
"In light of some of the precedents that have been set relating to other events on Borough property, we have decided that Santa will be allowed for the sake of consistency," he said today in an email.
Council President Kristine Morieko concurred. “I agree that a precedent has been set by prior acts...I think this should move forward and [as] their advertising strongly suggests, they state, “Santa will be there,” so any parties who do not want to be a part of such [a] celebration have the chance to decline."
The December 7 event is a collective of activities planned by the Holiday Committee, a free-standing committee run by independent volunteer residents. One of the events planned for that Saturday is the tree lighting, which is scheduled to take place on private property at the Exxon gas station, adjacent to Kilroy's grocery store on Rock Road. Borough Hall, 1 Harding Plaza, is just steps down the street. As part of the "Holiday Market," the Holiday Committee is planning a heated tent for the lawn of Borough Hall which will warm Santa and his fans, along with local businesses prior to the tree lighting at 4:30 p.m.
"We had apprised our Borough liaison and the Glen Rock Police Department of our initial plan weeks ago," Hillock said in an email today. "I've also been in contact with the Mayor and Council regarding the 'Santa' issue since last week's decision. It's just one small component of a much larger event, so I was astonished that it even rose to the level of the Council having to vote on it.
"The initial decision not to allow Santa on Borough property appeared arbitrary and discriminatory given the many other holiday events that currently take place on Borough property (including Santa riding firetrucks all through town, a fabulous Glen Rock tradition that many residents look forward to every year)," Hillock said. "But again, I'm glad it was reversed."
Hillock said more than anything else, it's more about inclusion and celebrating different traditions for the town as a whole.
"Inclusion teaches inclusion. The more we learn about and celebrate our similarities and differences, the richer we all become," she said. "For years, I have been championing the cause to bring the Holiday Spirit back to Glen Rock. And by holiday spirit, I mean ALL holidays ~ life is short, let us celebrate together.
"I’ve always felt that to be a truly inclusive community, we should learn about each other’s traditions and customs. It’s by learning about, sharing and celebrating our similarities and differences, that we grow as individuals and are better able to understand and embrace each other as a community," Hillock said.
"I look forward to moving forward and working in harmony with the Holiday Committee, Borough, the Chamber, our community organizations and vendors to host a wonderful event on December 7th."