NEWARK, NJ — Families turned out in droves on Friday night for the North Ward’s third annual Holiday Light Parade, where 11 Newark Public Schools showed off their school pride with elaborately themed floats. 

This year’s parade was the largest and most successful yet, according to council member Anibal Ramos, who led the community celebration this year along with State Senator Teresa Ruiz, council members at-large Luis Quintana and Carlos Gonzalez, Camacho & Son Float Service, Newark Public Schools, the Mt. Prospect Partnership, The North Ward Center, Clara Maass Medical Center and ARJ Civic Association. 

The collaboration raised more than $16,000 to fund the floats and stage the event, which Ramos said was well worth the expense. Students, parents and school staff all pitched in to decorate their respective displays. 

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“When you see the floats come down, you realize how much effort and work went into building and decorating the floats. It really highlights unity during the holiday season and gives people in the North Ward an opportunity to participate in an event that’s a little bit different from your traditional holiday tree lighting,” Ramos said. 

The support of local business and property owners through the North Ward’s two improvement districts are a cornerstone of the parade. Clara Maas CEO and Essex County Cops 4 Kids Executive Director Armando Aviles were honored as the godmother and godfather of the parade. 

Ridge Street School took home first place in the float competition for its Legoland Christmas display. Quintana said the parade gives the city and its partners an opportunity to foster a positive relationship with local schools.

“We’ve got to support our young people and our schools. It takes a village and it takes all of us to raise that village,” he said. “What makes a difference is that we can all celebrate the holidays and give back to something, whether it be education or the senior community to make someone’s life a little better in this world.”

Accepting a sponsorship award, North Ward Center CEO Michele Adubato applauded the schools for their creativity. 

"You're all winners tonight. It's an honor to participate in this incredible event," she said.