NUTLEY, NJ - The bitter cold temperature did not stop children from waiting for the jolly old elf Friday afternoon. Santa and Mrs. Claus kept the Nutley tradition and flew into town by whirlybird. Over 3,000 Nutleyites lined up outside the Nutley Park Oval fence on Nov. 23 for the 57th annual event, organized by the Nutley Chamber of Commerce.
“All the reindeer are resting up. In four weeks they have a big trip and a lot of work to do,” announced Robert Frannicola of Ultimate Entertainment, explaining why Santa visits Nutley on a helicopter and not by his flying reindeer.
Mayor Joseph P. Scarpelli reminisced about his childhood years. “I remember when I was a little kid coming here and seeing Santa arrive by helicopter,” he said in an interview.
Scarpelli handed out 500 packets, each containing four letters for children to write their wishes to Santa. A special red mailbox is located outside the Oval entrance on Chestnut Street for children to send those letters directly to the North Pole.
The children cheered as the helicopter appeared and Santa and Mrs. Claus made a safe landing inside the Oval. The classics “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and “Frosty the Snowman” played adding to the excitement. Frannicola counted “one…two…three” and the children yelled “Hi Santa” as he emerged from the chopper.
None of the children seemed to be bothered by the blistery weather. Brendan DelTufo, 6, said he didn’t care it was freezing cold, as seemed to be the feeling of every child waiting in line. All were bundled up, some covered in blankets, drinking the free hot cocoa, doing their best to keep warm. Friday’s high was near 32 degrees in Nutley compared to last year when it was above 50 degrees.
As the children waited for a photo with the Clauses, they relayed what they wanted this year. One of Santa’s youngest fans Sabrina Palmer, 1, wants Elmo and Mickey Mouse dolls.
Thomas Strumolo Jr., 9, son of Nutley Police Chief Thomas Strumolo, wants a puppy. His siblings Vincenza and Natalia, both age 6, agreed asking for only one thing as well, a dog. Tommy Jr. said, “You know why? Our two dogs died.”
Samantha Scaperrotta, 6, wants a television and an American Girl doll while Maya Morillo, 9, is asking for the Barbie Ultimate Kitchen, and Anthony Huaranga, 9, is requesting a cellphone. His sister Guiliana, 7, wishes for a unicorn game. Constantino Morillo, Maya’s brother, wants Transformers and Mario Kart toys.
Sophia Fede, 7, has a message for Santa. “I love you Santa,” she said. She is requesting Simmer and Shine horses from him. Her sister Gabrielle, 9, wants a new iPod case and she wishes Santa a “Merry Christmas.” Friend Giovanna Fata, 6, wants putty.
Nutley Chamber of Commerce President Dan Leon thanked the Board of Education for use of the Nutley Park Oval and acknowledged the Board of Commissioners and chamber sponsors for supporting the annual event. As he controlled the crowd and kept them behind the yellow caution tape, he spoke of the event in an interview. “Not too many towns do this. It’s a long time tradition. It showcases the tradition and the closeness of the town,” he said.
Other entertainment included the Nutley Raiders Varsity C Cheerleaders, Nutley School of Music and Ellis Dance Studio’s Jr. Tap, Company 1 Performing Company and Company II Show Stars.
The township of Nutley will be holding their annual Holiday Christmas Tree and Menorah Lighting from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2. Activities kick-off inside John Walker Middle School and around the Nutley Park Oval. Franklin Avenue will be closed between Chestnut and New streets.
Following the tree lighting Vincent United Methodist Church will host their annual presentation of the Living Nativity every 20 minutes, from 7 to 8 p.m. The free presentation consists of an Angel, shepherds, the three Wise Men, Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, and live animals – including sheep, goats and donkeys. Refreshments will be served at both locations.
Additional TAPinto Nutley coverage of Santa's Arrival:
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