Arts & Entertainment

Little Joey Johnson Turns On The Christmas Tree Lights At Stanhope's Annual Tree Lighting; Santa Claus And Rizzo's Reptile Discovery Joins Festivities

Children of Valley Road School in Stanhope perform holiday music before the lighting of the tree. Credits: Alley Shubert
Children of Valley Road School in Stanhope perform holiday music before the lighting of the tree. Credits: Alley Shubert
Two young boys hug Frosty the Snowman. Credits: Alley Shubert
Children run toward Santa Claus as he gets off of the fire truck. Credits: Alley Shubert
Tyler of Rizzo's Reptile Discovery puts baby snakes on his ears. Credits: Alley Shubert
Little Joey Johnson, 3-year-old diagnosed with cancer, lights up the Christmas tree with the help of his family. Credits: Alley Shubert
The lighting of the Christmas tree in front of Stanhope Borough Hall. Credits: Alley Shubert
Tyler of Rizzo's Reptile Discovery shows the children his favorite snake. Credits: Alley Shubert


STANHOPE BOROUGH, NJ --- December 2 marked a special day for the residents of Stanhope Borough.
Around 5 p.m., residents of the borough started walking to the borough hall, while cars started filling up the parking lot.
Stanhope Recreation Members, Marie Jozowski, Tammy Araujo, Patty Zdichocki, Maria Grizzetti, and Charlotte Zawacki, all helped set up the event for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting.

The children of Ms. Marshall’s class at Valley Road School all attended to spread holiday cheer to the guests in the town.They had six holiday favorites which included: "Dreidel," "Frosty the Snowman," "Here Comes Santa Claus," "Up on the House Top," "Rudolph, The Red-Noised Reindeer," and "Jingle Bells."
Zdichocki dressed up as Frosty, and danced and played with the children as they sang.
Half way through the children singing their rendition of Jingle Bells, loud sirens started going off as a fire truck made its way around the bend with Santa Claus on it, waving and saying “Ho! Ho! Ho!” 
All of the children ran to the sidewalk to approach Santa, who was portrayed by councilman George Graham.
A young girl who was holding her son was heard saying, “I believe in Santa again!”
Santa then approached little Joey Johnson, whose father is a Patrolman for the Stanhope Police Department.
Joey is a three-year-old boy who has been diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer, and has been receiving treatment at New York University’s Langone Medical Center.
Over the past couple of months, an outstanding amount of people have donated money to support Joey and his family in a time of need to help cover the cost of his medical expenses.
Joey’s body often gets weak due to his illness but one thing is for certain, he was a star that night. His family helped him pull the electronic candy cane which lit up the beautiful Christmas tree in front of all to see outside of borough hall.
Immediately following the tree lighting, guests were instructed to walk a short distance to the First Presbyterian Church for hot cocoa, cookies, and a show put on by Rizzo’s Reptiles Discovery.
Tyler for Rizzo’s Reptiles Discovery  put on a show for the children and showed them certain “creepy” creatures like a leopard gecko, millipede, a blue tongue lizard, and an alligator snapping turtle.
Tyler taught the children important information about the reptiles they were looking at such as, “It’s tail only looks like its head so if a bird or snake bites it, it pops right off and they can get away,” in regard to the two-headed leopard gecko. “They have long tongues that can lick their eyeballs and can shed their skin and eat it.”
Several children exclaimed, “ew!”, while others said, “cool!”
The event was sponsored by: Stanhope Recreation Commission and the Stanhope Hose Company #1. With refreshments by: Lakeview Heights Community Club, and Stanhope Senior Citizens Group.
Continue to follow The Alternative Press for Sussex County news, as well as news and community information on The Alternative Press of Sussex County’s Facebook Page.

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