NUTLEY, NJ - Nutley residents gathered on Franklin Avenue Sunday evening Dec. 8, not for some special holiday sale, or Santa Claus, he was already inside John H. Walker Middle School, but to see that very tall evergreen tree light up with color. The township held its annual Holiday Christmas Tree and Menorah Lighting with festivities inside John H. Walker Middle School and areas in and around the Nutley Park Oval.  Franklin Avenue was closed between Chestnut and New streets.

A Norway spruce approximately 65 feet tall donated by Nutley residents Anthony Montes and Victoria Trombetta of Bloomfield Avenue, sits in the Nutley Park Oval.

As residents waited for the main event, they were able to take miniature horse and buggy rides, children rode a fire engine train on Franklin Avenue, and pony rides were available on the middle school’s lawn.

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Entertainment in the middle school included the John H. Walker Middle School’s Concert Choir and Jazz Band, Elementary School Choir, the Nutley High School Choralettes, Chamber Singers and Orchestra. Children also were able to have their picture taken with Santa Claus and were welcomed into the school by the Grinch.

The NHS Men’s Choir caroled on Franklin Avenue singing “Away in a Manager and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” The NHS Brass Ensemble concluded the evening’s performances on the middle school steps with a total of 10 songs including “Deck the Halls,” “O Christmas Tree,” "Good King Wenceslas," and “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”

Once again the Nutley Department of Public Works roasted chestnuts on an open fire on top of the lawn of the middle school. Residents grabbed up the free paper lunch bags containing the fresh hot roasted chestnuts.

Scarpelli thanked the DPW and Commissioners and the Board of Education for the use of the Nutley Park Oval as well as the winter concert coinciding with the ceremony. “We work together to put this together,” he said.

“This is capturing a Norman Rockwell kind of feeling,” said Scarpelli as he looked at the crowd standing in front of the middle school.

The Rev. Jill Fenske of Franklin Reformed Church in Nutley read the invocation. “[…] Remind us that is not enough to flick the switch and light the tree, to touch the matches to the menorah’s in our homes, to bring candles into our places of worship, or celebrations of light into community centers. […] we ourselves might be light, to bring rays of hope into another’s darkness,” she said.

Rabbi David Greenstein of Congregation Shomrei Emunah in Montclair could not make his usual attendance and sent a blessing that Scarpelli read. “[…] The world started with the light,” he said.

Scarpelli led the countdown to the tree lighting and flicked the switch lighting the tree. The menorah will begin to be lit from the first night of Hanukkah on Dec. 22. 

Also present for the tree lighting were Commissioners Thomas J. Evans and Alphonse Petracco, Superintendent of Nutley Schools Julie Glazer and Board of Education President Daniel Carnicella.

After the tree lighting Vincent United Methodist Church held is annual living Nativity on the church’s front lawn.

For a second known time baby Jesus was played by a real baby –three-month-old Julian Caro. His parents Marisa and Angel portrayed Mary and Joseph.

The Three Wise Men were Gene Carlson, John Olsen and Bennett Feld, members of VUMC. A rotation of children from Vincent Church Sunday School played the parts of the angel and shepherds. Charlyn Kennedy assembled the cast and her team dress all the characters in their costumes for the performance.

The story of the birth of Jesus was again narrated by John Slattery of VUMC. Slattery assembled the crèche the day after Thanksgiving. According to LeDuc it takes about two hours to put all the pieces together.

There was a donkey, a calf, a goat and sheep set up around the crèche for the portrayal of Jesus’s birth. Soon after the last performance Slattery with help from other members set up the wooden Nativity scene in the crèche for all to see throughout the holiday season. 

The Vincent Church hospitality team provided hot apple cider and cookies in the church’s narthex between performances and at the end of the last one.

“It is a joy for Vincent Church to provide this Living Nativity each year for the community, sharing the real meaning of Christmas in the birth of Jesus Christ,” said LeDuc.


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