MONTCLAIR, NJ - Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go. Such was the case, as over an estimated 1300 residents and friends of the Township of Montclair gathered for the annual tree lighting ceremony on Friday.

After the tree lighting, attendees were encouraged to watch the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

Joann Smalls of Montclair Center Bid said, "Its about community and the local businesses that are here and the importance of bringing it altogether in letting people know what is offered and going on and available to township residents.  

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This year's event was coordinated by Pat Brechka from the Township of Montclair in partnership with Montclair Center Bid, pulled out all stops in making sure that the evening's festivities went off without a hitch.

An evening of family friendly activities set the mood in invoking the holiday spirit, even to the point of  providing the flurries of snow that graced church street as folks waited for the tree lighting.

Attendees entering into to Church Street were greeted by the Montclair Community Band playing an assortment traditional Christmas music, which served as the soundtrack as all in attendance strolled the area  sipping on hot chocolate provided by Manny's Dinner and eating apple cider donuts and smores from Applegate Farms. 

Children were encouraged to make homemade cards, while some where making goop and others posing in front of the giant snow globe and hula hooping.

The Montclair Center Bid provided ice sculptures, further setting the mood.

Heading west on Church Street, one came to the fire pits where s'mores were provided for roasting, as attendants passed costumed soldiers, reminiscent of the classic 'March of the Wooden Soldiers.'  

Fairies and elves ending with the Fezziwig Carolers, sang Christmas carols to a very attentive crowd that joined in singing such classics as Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.  Performing on the main stage and introducing her new song "That Time of The Year, was Victoria Skie.

"Its a thrill for me to come out and be a part of this wonderful evening and to have the opportunity to sing my new song as we all prepare to celebrate," said Skie. 

Joining the Community Band on stage, Mrs. Claus welcomed all that came out. Deputy Mayor Robin Schlager also thanked all in attendance for coming out and to all that made the evening possible and free to the community, as she prepared to do the honors of counting down to the lighting of the tree.

"Its an honor to be asked to do the count down, as its important to events like this that bring out the community in the spirit of Christmas," said Schlager.

Mayor Robert Jackson said, "Its the holiday season and it's great to look out and see families out enjoying the celebration and seeing the smiles on the kids faces and reflecting back over the year "

Councilwoman Renee Baskerville echoed the sentiment saying, "It's about community, in providing an evening and bringing everybody out to meet and greet and enjoy as we prepare to celebrate Christmas."

At 6:30 pm, Schlager began the count down for the Tree Lighting. After the lighting of the tree, who should appear on top of the Clairidge building, but jolly ole Saint Nick himself aka Santa Claus.

With the lighting of the tree and Santa's arrival, the festivities were moved to the lobby of the Clairidge Building  where families and children lined up to have a photo opportunity with Mr.& Mrs. Claus to remember the evening.

Attending the nights festivities with her son, Frienshette Chin shared her comment. "It's the start of the Christmas season in bringing the community  together where we can gather and see old friends make new friends and see who are some of the people in our neighborhoods."