LIVINGSTON, NJ — Instrumental members of the Camuso Collection Preservation Committee had the honor of officially lighting the Camuso display at the Livingston Memorial Oval on Saturday, where hundreds of residents attended a ceremony to kick off the holiday season.
Throughout the event, guests donated funds to the Burn Center at Saint Barnabas Medical Center (SBMC), which helped the Camuso family immensely many years ago when the late Ernie Camuso was in the center’s care. A check in the amount of $2480, representing the funds raised from last year’s event, was presented to Lou LaSalle and other representatives of SBMC during the event as residents and local dignitaries, including the mayor and council, looked on.
“In the seven years we’ve been doing this, we’ve raised over $15,000 for the Saint Barnabas Burn Center and they’re very supportive of us,” said Steve Santola, chair of the Camuso Committee.
In addition to raising money for the SBMC Burn Center, members of the Camuso Committee sold wooden snowmen in order to raise funds to ensure the future of the display. The hand-painted snowmen made by the Camuso “Elves” will have the donors’ names written on them to be placed around the display and given back to the donors once it is taken down on Jan. 1.
Since February, the elves have been hard at work repairing 46 broken figures in time for the 2017 display. The effort resulted in a successful first night, where many residents enjoyed new scenes that included a firehouse display complete with firemen and a firedog.
“It was a busy year,” said Chief Elf Thomas Cooney. “We were able to fix all of [the figures] and we have about 115 characters, so we it wasn’t easy but we go it done in time and the turnout was fantastic. The firehouse was a pretty big hit and hopefully everyone will come out—the more people that come out, the better.”
The lighting is the culmination of all the hard work that dozens of volunteers do to make the display possible each year. From now through New Years Day, the Camuso display will be lit each evening at dusk—weather permitting.
Saturday’s well-attended event was highlighted by a performance from the Livingston Starliners Dance Group and a train ride for kids. The 26-foot rotating tree that serves as the centerpiece of the display was also a highlight once again after its recent restoration.
The elves encourage residents to continue to attend the upcoming events, including Santa’s arrival on Dec. 9, the Menorah-lighting ceremony on Dec. 16 and more.
“If the community didn’t support us, we wouldn’t be able to do it and if they didn’t come out to see it, we wouldn’t want to do it,” said Cooney. “We have events coming up now every Saturday, so hopefully there will be plenty of people there next weekend too. It’s a lot of fun.”
On Saturday, Santa will make an appearance via fire truck while guests enjoy Clydesdale carriage rides, a petting zoo and pony rides.
On Dec. 14, the township will host its annual Menorah lighting at the display and on Dec. 16, local children are invited to come decorate ornaments with members of the Livingston Fire Department and First Aid Squad.