WATCHUNG, NJ - No, it’s not December. The Captain and President of the Watchung Rescue Squad along with the Mayor of Watchung held a short virtual ceremony for residents through Facebook live on Wednesday night relighting the tree on the Village Green to honor frontline and essential workers and to remember those lost to COVID-19.
The Rescue Squad said:
Welcome to a spring Tree of Lights ceremony, I’m Lysandra Plotkin President of the Watchung Rescue Squad. This is an unprecedented event for an unprecedented time. Today I stand before an empty Village Green, there is no DJ beside me, children aren’t running around, and adults aren’t rushing for the hot chili. Even though the festivities have changed to follow stay at home guidelines, the purpose is still the same. 30 years ago the Tree of Lights began as a tribute and honor to Pearl Harbor Day and has since evolved into a community wide celebration to honor individuals and organizations within Watchung and to provide remembrance for loved ones who have passed. For as long as we live under a state of emergency due to the spread of the coronavirus, the tree behind me will stay lit to honor frontline and essential workers and remember those we’ve lost to COVID-19. Across the nation we have seen people stand on their balconies and lean out of their windows applauding health professionals during shift change in a movement called “Clap because we care”. We have seen parades of residents driving in their cars holding up signs and first responder vehicles flashing lights around our local hospitals. From today until Governor Murphy ends our state of emergency, the Tree of Lights will illuminate the Village Green to show appreciation for the heroes of the coronavirus pandemic, to those who go out and risk their health to keep us safe. To the doctors, nurses, hospital workers and caregivers. To public transit workers and the postal service. From supermarket employees stocking shelves to our first responders, EMS, Police and Fire. This is for you. And for our loved ones who have passed away due to COVID-19, this tree shines brighter because of you. You’re in our thoughts and prayers. Within the last month, we have been introduced to a new normal, our living rooms are our movie theaters, our schools are our homes, and restaurant tables are now our kitchen tables, and even though it is not easy members of the Rescue Squad are here to cheer you on. Although we are isolated, we are not alone.
I’m Jeiner, Captain of the Watchung Rescue Squad and as a frontline worker myself a lot has changed for me in the past few weeks. It has affected my role as Captain at the Rescue Squad and my role at home with my family. With that said I’d like to thank all Watchung residents who continue to practice social distancing and stay at home guidelines. Thank you to Mayor Keith Balla for your support and being here tonight. Thank you to members of the Watchung Borough Council and administration. Thank you to the Watchung Police department, Fire Department and DPW. Thank you to Carolyn Solon from Watchung OEM. Thank you to the Watchung Cert team. Thank you all watchung residents for you continued support. And to all the Watchung residents who are essential workers and those on the frontline, thank you!