Arts & Entertainment

5,000 Visitors Pack Downtown Somerville for Santa's Arrival

Santa waves to the crowd before lighting the tree Saturday night. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Waiting for Santa and the lighting of tree. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Thousands of bulbs light up the tree on the Division Street pedestrian mall. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Santa is welcomed to Somerville Saturday night by Mayor Brian Gallagher. Credits: Jason Kraska
Visitors pack the Division Street pedestrian mall Saturday night awaiting Santa's arrival and the lighting of the borough's tree. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Hundreds of families with children waited in line for a photo with Santa at United Reformed Church. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Members of the Somerville Rescue Squad pose for a holiday photo with Mayor Brian Gallagher. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Two teams of horses pulled wagons filled with holiday visitors up and down Somerville's Main Street. Credits: Rod Hirsch
A bell choir performed Christmas carols inside United Reformed Church while outside, families stood in line for photos with Santa. Credits: Rod Hirsch
The Division Street pedestrian mall in Somerville was packed from Postal Plaza to Main Street with thousands of visitors Saturday night for the kick off of the borough's holidays' celebration. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Emily McEntee, left and sister Molly McEntee of Peapack-Gladstone enjoy the festivities at Saturday night's Holiday Jubilee in Somerville. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Lisa Gallagher joins her husband, Somerville Mayor Brian Gallagher at Saturday night's lighting of the borough's holiday tree. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Santa's 'elves' entertain visitors at Saturday night's Holiday Jubilee festivities in Somerville. Credits: Rod Hirsch

SOMERVILLE, NJ  - More than 5,000 visitors jammed downtown Somerville Saturday night to await Santa's arrival and the official tree lighting, which kicked off the borough's  annual Holiday Jubilee.

The crowd began to mingle around the tree erected on Division Street several hours prior to Santa and sang popular Christmas carols while awaiting his arrival.

Santa arrived in a convoy of Somerville fire trucks on Main Street, and was escorted through the packed crowd by Somerville police.

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After an official welcome from Mayor Brian Gallagher - who reminded the crowd that Santa makes his first stop in Somerville every year - Santa took the microphone to tell the children in the crowd that they always are high on his holiday list.

Joined by members of the Borough Council on the raised platform in front of the tree, the mayor and Santa lit up the tree,.

With that, families and couples began to slowly disperse to shops on Division Street and Main Street.

Hundreds waited in line for horse-drawn wagon rides up and down Main Street, while others made their way to the United Reform Church, to await Santa once again to pose for pictures. Inside the church, a bell choir played Christmas carols.

Parking was at a premium, with some visitors driving through the borough parking lots several times in search of an open space for upwards of 40 minutes.

Retail stores did a brisk business, with long waits for tables at most of the borough's restaurants; a family of 8 was told there would be a 90-minute wait for a table at Alfonso's Trattoria and Restaurant at 6:30 p.m.


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