NEWTON, NJ—The Newton Medical Center Foundation, partnered with C. Edward McCracken, kicked off the holiday season this year, with the 26 Annual Festival of Lights event on Saturday, November 11.

This year’s event was a little different than in years past because it stuck to a futuristic theme, in which the employees at the hospital were honored and the importance of what they do behind the scenes was highlighted.

Also included in this years’ event, unlike in the past, was a place for kids to come in from the cold. They were able to choose from getting their faces painted, getting a balloon animal blown up for them, or saying hello to Santa Claus, who dropped by for the special occasion.

Sign Up for E-News

The event began at 4:30 p.m. inside for the children who attended and snacks such as popcorn and hot dogs were available all night.

At around 5:20 p.m. Pope John High School Choir sang a set of old time Christmas songs, from Silent Night to Joy to the World.

Rounding out the evening right before the tree-lighting ceremony began, was the Newton High School Choir students, who sang not only traditional Christmas songs, but also Hanukah songs and many others.

Reverend Randy Parks started the ceremony off by saying a few words about the event itself, as well as delivering the invocation.

“At this 26 anniversary, we are looking forward to what lies ahead," Parks said. "We are blessed with another year which gives us opportunity to look up into the present with new dreams, new possibilities and a new hope.”

Over 1,200 people were recognized that night, committed men and women who are employees of the Newton Medical Center.

“If you’re an employee here tonight, we want to say thank you for what you do for this community, you’re a point of light that points us into the future,” Joseph DiPaolo, President of Newton Medical Center said. 

DiPaolo then welcomed everyone to the special event and thanked the veterans since the event fell on Veteran’s Day this year, along with the first responders.

Jo-Ellen McCracken Hazen, daughter of the late C. Edward McCracken, co-chair of the Festival of Lights committee, and a legacy member, took to the podium next.

“The mission of the festival of lights, founded 26 years ago was to have a community based hospital holiday event for all to enjoy," McCracken Hazen said. "Throughout the years we have worked diligently to stick to that mission. Many small things have resulted in many great things happening here at Newton Medical Center.”

As the speech ended, McCracken Hazan, accompanied by her family and the grandchildren of the family, led everyone outside to the magical candy cane light switch.

The grandchildren of McCracken gathered around the switch as the community gathered around the trees despite the chilly weather. As the countdown reached one, the grandchildren pulled down on the switch, lighting all the trees around the hospital.

With Christmas music playing on the speakers in the background, the grand ceremony of the Festival of Lights ended with an array of fireworks courtesy of Emergency Providers of NMC-EMA.

The evening was capped off with the fireworks lighting the sky,. Bundled against the cold the community enjoyed the show and the holiday season in Newton began.