ROXBURY, NJ – It wasn’t such a good idea to include the annual township Christmas tree lighting as part of the Home for the Holidays street festival, so Roxbury officials are returning the ceremony to a day and place of its own.

Even though the township’s website says the tree lighting will happen at the Dec. 2 Home for the Holidays celebration on Main Street in Succasunna, it actually will take place Dec. 8 at 5 p.m. outside the Roxbury Recreation Department headquarters at Horseshoe Lake Park.

The tree lighting at Horseshoe Lake began in 1980 but was moved to Home for the Holidays on Main Street in 2015. Town officials decided to make the switch because the idea seemed to make sense; they figured there would be lots of people gathered on Main Street for the street festival and they thought those people would stick around for the tree lighting.

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That didn’t happen. Instead of staying at Home for the Holidays, many people headed for home for the night, said Roxbury Recreation Director Keith Knudsen.

“When Home for the Holidays finished, the vendors packed up,” Knudsen said. “People saw the vendors going home … and most people tended to leave.” He noted the vendor exodus started about an hour before it got dark enough for the tree lighting, leaving few folks in attendance when the switch was flicked.

In addition to moving the tree lighting back to Horseshoe Lake, the township also decided to get a new tree for the purpose. Knudsen said a 15-foot-tall evergreen is being planted between the sand parking lot and the paved parking lot in front of the township Recreation Center.

“They used to decorate one on the corner of the building but that tree’s been cut down,” Knudsen said. He noted the new one will be closer to Eyland Avenue and therefore be more visible.

The tree lights will be installed by the township Parks Department. Immediately after the lights go on, there will be some festivities for kids including hot cocoa and photos with Santa, who will arrive - with much fanfare - on a fire truck.

Additionally, the winners of the annual Roxbury Holiday Lighting and Decorating Contest will be announced, Knudsen noted.

Those interested in entering the contest must submit an entry form available pdfhere or at the recreation department.

Entry is free and open to Roxbury residents only for houses in the township. The deadline to enter is Dec. 1.

Entries will be judged for most traditional, most lights, most flashy, most extravagant, kid fun, best presentation with sound and most creative. There will be one “Best in Town” grand prize winner.