NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - With Christmas a few weeks away, children in New Providence were able to see Santa Claus a little early as the New Providence Fire Department welcomed him to town Saturday afternoon.

The annual event has taken place for close to 70 years and it is always well attended, said department President Michael Allocco. The children have the opportunity to meet Santa and take pictures with him. Refreshments were served as well.

“Everyone enjoys it,” Allocco said. “It’s like a family day.”

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Newcomer to the event was Christine Pitarresi and her three children Allie, Kira and John. She said she heard from friends it was a fun time and more importantly the kids could see Santa.

Lilly Cifarelli, who recently moved to New Providence from Hoboken, said it’s very different, but she loves the small community. She received an email from the Salt Brook School about the event and knew it’d be perfect for the kids, she said.

Her sons Ethan and Luke were filled with excitement after meeting Santa and read him their wish lists as well. With their birthdays in December and being half Jewish, there are going to be a lot of presents, she said.

“We love it. The kids are having a great time,” Cifarelli said.

Stacy Maisch, who came with her three kids Robbie, Scotty and Allie said they try to come every year and it’s always fun. Maisch said it’s a great community event where the families and friends can see each other.

Her children all brought lists of presents they want and after reading them to Santa, they put them in his mailbox outside.

“We came to support the local fire department and because Santa’s just awesome,” she said. “The kids had a great time.”