NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - A large crowd celebrated the New Providence Diversity Committee's lighting of a Community Tree and Night of 1000 Stars at Centennial Park Friday night. There was a bit of a chill in the air and a picturesque setting that included entertainment, visit from Santa, as well as the lighting of the tree filled with Stars purchased in support of the work of the CSA.

"This started a few years ago to help the people in New Providence who are in need. What we did to start off the holiday season, you can go over to the table -- if you make a small donation, you can put your name on the star and decorate it a little and hang it on the tree," said Mayor Al Morgan. 

Mayor Al Morgan started the evening and thanked the many people involved in putting this event together. "It takes a lot of work to get something like this together," he said. 

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"It was a magical night. Thank you to our Diversity Committee for hosting and to my wife Christine Morgan, our CSA for participating and helping our local families in need, our Veterans for participating and promoting the upcoming annual Cookie Walk (Saturday, December 14), which helps our local Veterans, our New Providence Lions for always stepping up and helping at every community event with good service, to Prestige Diner for donating hot chocolate and for always being such generous community partners, our DPW, Police, EMS, and our Volunteer Fire Department who attend, support, and contribute to all of our community events and help keep us all safe," he said.

"We are especially grateful to our Diversity Committee Chairman Sunil Abrol for his good work in our community fostering an environment of inclusivity. Also, thank you to Santa, who inspired us all and filled us with holiday cheer," said Mayor Al.

Sunil Abrol, the chairman of the New Providence Diversity Committee recognized the tree is a symbol for many people in our town. For some it's a Christmas tree, for others it's the tree of Life, a symbol of our deep connections to family and to the earth and to all of nature; for me it's the tree of Unity, he had said. "I want to ask each of you to celebrate this holiday with an open heart, accept that we are all members of the human family, like this tree, each leaf, each branch has infinite potential, value and purpose. Let all see that New Providence promotes forbearance, mercy, and loving kindness towards all people."

Al Elefante and the students of Elefante Music School kicked off the entertainment portion of the evening with Deck the Halls. Also entertaining the crowd were Susan Kirkland and the NPHS Select Choir, the Edelweiss Children's Holiday Choir, LaBefana performed by Emma Peterson, and new special guest this year, St.Lucia performed by Katherin Ertman.

At the end of the evening, Mayor Al invited all the children and Santa to come up by the tree and the countdown began and the tree was lit. LaBefana and St. Lucia handed out treats for all the children.

"This event would not have been possible without the good work of Susan Peterson who puts together the entire PA and audio system, no small undertaking, Bernadette Sullivan Cuccaro and our Community Activities Department, and our New Providence Borough Council who are so supportive of our efforts. We are all so appreciative. New Providence is a very special place and events like these bring our community together and build lifelong family memories," said Mayor Al.

If you missed this event but would like to contribute to the Community Service Association (CSA) of New Providence to help local families in need, you may send a donation of any amount to (Check made out to CSA): CSA, 360 Elkwood Avenue, New Providence, NJ 07974. 

For more information about the CSA or if you are in need or know of someone in need of assistance, please contact CSA Help Line at (908)665-8254. 

To learn more about CSA or if you would like to join or help, please visit their website at csanewprovidence.org.