LIVINGSTON, NJ — The air of anticipation was palpable on Saturday evening, Dec. 5, as hundreds of area residents assembled on the Oval to enjoy the opening night of the annual Camuso Holiday Lights display. Locals gathered again on Tuesday evening for Chanukah prayer as the town Menorah was lit in honor of the holiday.

What has grown into a small village of flashing and moving lights, and even some animated figures, took nearly 12 months of work, according to the dozens of “elves” that prepare, maintain, expand and improve the display each year. Children enjoyed a train ride sponsored by the Dinar family and took pictures with a Minion and the Grinch as they enjoyed free hot chocolate, cookies provided by Kings and a performance from Livingston’s Starliners dance troop.

“This is special: for years the Camuso family had a tremendous display on its front yard and then donated it to the town,” said Silverman. “Our elves have worked tirelessly rebuilding and renovating the tree and the characters and this is just Livingston at it’s finest.”

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According to the Camuso Holiday Decorations Committee, which has been meeting to raise funds for the display throughout the year, all proceeds will benefit the Saint Barnabas Medical Center Burn Center this year. Saint Barnabas Medical Center, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, and Mattew Berger, the Camuso Committee’s “Littlest Elf” had the honor of lighting the display at Saturday’s ceremony.

On Tuesday, Rabbi Greg Litcofsky and the Choir from Temple Emanuel led the Menorah lighting with songs and a prayer. Rabbi Litcofsky said his Chanukah wish is for the community at large to bring as much love, light, justice into the world as possible during the holidays and every day in between.

 “Two messages resonate with me personally about Chanukah—first is the idea of light: God knows the world needs as much love and as much light as possible,” said Rabbi Litcofsky. “The second theme that resonates perhaps more powerfully this year is the theme of freedom: How amazing and blessed are we to live in a country where we can celebrate our religion, no matter what religion that is, openly and freely.”

Litcofsky also spoke of his love for Livingston, and how lucky he felt to be able to stand together in harmony to celebrate the miracle of lights. The Choir from Temple Emanuel filled the air with music as families enjoyed the animated, interactive Camuso display.

On Friday, Dec. 11, Livingston Unico will once again sponsor Santa and his elf at the Gazebo, which will be accompanied by a horse and carriage ride. Steve Santola, the Chair of the Camuso Committee said it is a community event that the committee hopes the entire community will attend and enjoy. 

All photos were taken by W L Bill Allen and Danielle Santola