PATERSON, NJ – Fiscal problems have wreaked havoc on Paterson’s holiday events this year.

The succession of holiday cancelations stemming from state-imposed restrictions on city finances started with the city’s annual Mother’s Day Breakfast. Then municipal officials had to scrap the Memorial Day Weekend Kick-off celebration, the Great Falls Festival, and the proposed new Autumnfest. Finally, in October, the city couldn’t buy Halloween treats for Paterson youngsters.

But Paterson’s party for its annual Christmas tree-lighting is all systems go for Sat., Nov. 24. “We think it’s going to be a great business opportunity for our merchants and a great family event for Downtown Paterson,’’ said Jamie Dykes, director of the Greater Paterson Chamber of Commerce.

Sign Up for E-News

The tree-lighting at City Hall is being paid for by city businesses and merchants through the Downtown Paterson Special Improvement District (SID).

The state’s spending restrictions have had some impact on the event. As happened last year, the city will not be able to host its holiday parade. But there will be plenty of other stuff, like a visit from Santa Claus, to make it look a lot like Christmas.

The event’s organizers are calling it a celebration of Small Business Saturday, a new “shopping holiday” created by American Express two years ago.

“Small Business Saturday is a day for us to showcase the retail district, and we are doing so in hopes that Paterson and our surrounding neighbors will rally behind us and shop small - all while enjoying the festive day we have planned for them,” said the SID’s executive director Sheri Ferreira.

The events include:

  • Yo Gabba Gabba characters visit Downtown Paterson: 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm
  • Jugglers will roam the retail district: 2-5:30 pm.
  • Dickens-style Christmas carolers will roam the retail district and engage shoppers in sing-a-longs: 3:30-7:00 pm
  • Free face painting at City Hall: 6-8:30 pm
  • Free pictures for families with Santa Claus:  3:30-8:30 pm
  • Holiday ice sculpting demonstration – Time TBA
  • Christmas tree lighting ceremony begins at 6 pm: features the lighting of the ’35-foot spruce Christmas tree by Mayor Jeffery Jones at 7:30 PM, Victorian carolers, acclaimed Rosa Parks Performing Arts High School Choir has been invited to perform.
  • X-Box System giveaway: All Children will be entered for free to win one of three bundled game systems. Raffle tickets will be distributed at City Hall from 5:30pm until 7:30pm. Winning ticket numbers will be called at 8:00 PM. Must be present to win. Only children are eligible to win.

Although the city cannot provide funds for the event, Ferreira said the mayor and public works, police and fire departments have been particularly cooperative in the planning.

For more information, call the SID at 973-881-7300.