NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - It was quite chilly outside Friday night, but the atmosphere in Centennial Park at the Night of a 1000 Stars warmed up all those who attended the second annual Community Tree Lighting hosted by the New Providence Diversity Committee. The scene at Centennial Park looked more like a Currier and Ives lithograph as over 500 residents strolled the grounds, chatting, laughing and drinking hot cocoa while listening to Al Elefante singing carols and waiting for the countdown to the Community Tree lighting.

The Community Service Association (CSA) had a table collecting gift cards and donations for their organization. Lisa McKnight, President of the CSA, said “Where else, but in New Providence, could you have an organization whose mission statement is to help it’s residents in need.” 

There was a concert by Al Elefante leading up to the tree lighting singing holiday music. Attendees were treated to free hot cocoa served up by the New Providence Lions Club and donated by the Prestige Diner. Joe Savino of Adam’s Fine Clothing was giving out free gift bags courtesy of NP Business Community as well. 

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Mayor Al Morgan took to the stage and thanked Bernadette Cuccarro and the Community Activities and Recreation Department, the CSA, the Diversity Committee, the Lions Club who served the hot cocoa, the Prestige Diner, the Business Association, the Fire Department, Rescue Squad and Police Department and Jimmy Johnston and the DPW who made this all possible. He also thanked his wife, Christine, who chaired the event.  

Sunil Abrol, the chairman of the New Providence Diversity Committee added, “My wish for the people of New Providence is to become a wonderful example of the goodness of Americans. To be prejudice free, to welcome people regardless of their color, or nationality. Healing the wounds and building a society in which people of diverse backgrounds live as members of one family is one of the most pressing issues confronting America today.” 

Lisa McKnight and Dianne Palmieri thanked all that attended donated gift cards and said that a new arm has been added to the CSA, called CSA Youth. “It is the brainchild of Atacan Zeran, who came up with a great idea, the mission is to engage the high school students to provide assistance to residents in need such as shoveling snow, raking or yard work.” 

The crowd then started the countdown with Mayor Morgan and the community tree was lit. The Chatham Brass Quintet then performed holiday music and the NPMS boys and girls ensembles sang carols for the hundreds of residents gathered around the illuminated gazebo under the direction of Catherine Flynn. The Community Tree Lighting and Night of 1000 Stars, in only its second year, is quickly becoming a New Providence tradition.

The CSA was established in 1954, its primary purpose is to offer financial assistance to New Providence residents in their time of need. To learn more about the CSA and CSA Youth visit their website at:  http://www.csanewprovidence.org/