FANWOOD, NJ – Despite the 70-degree weather earlier this week, Greg Roser was preparing for the holiday season.
"Fanwood's Famous Christmas House" display at 83 Paterson Rd is evolving and is more than 50% complete. Roser undertakes the annual fundraising effort as memorial to Rosemary "Rosie" Merced, a former co-worker who died from cancer earlier this year. As always the grand lighting will take place on the day after Thanksgiving (Friday, Nov. 27) at dusk. Donations are already coming in for NJ Institute for Disabilities, and the display is not yet lit.
Roser started compiling his glorious light show setup after Labor Day, including 10,000 or so lights on the trees, shrubs and bushes. After Halloween, Roser starts to install the lawn displays.
"There are many new items this year, much of which was donated to help me help others," said Roser, who worked for an electrical wholesaler for 40 years.
Because he changed to LED lights, Roser no longer overloads his circuits.
"Now I'm limitless," he says, "They use only 12% of the energy of incandescent lights."
Santa will visit the Christmas House on Dec. 5, from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. Roser says toy and gift donations are still needed.
"Unwrapped gifts in the $10-$12 range are great. I even accept new and unused gifts that may be collecting in your basement or closets," Roser said. "There is no charge to visit Santa, but donations are accepted for NJ Institute for Disabilities. We are planning a socially distant Santa visit. Children will not be able to sit on Santa's lap. They will be separated by a table. I think at this point, children are used to social distancing."
Using a repair list to prepare for the next year as he takes the display down after each season, Roser said he prioritized a memorial for his former Turtle and Hughes coworker, Rosemary who died earlier this year following a long battle with cancer.
"It was important to get Rosemary’s memorial out there. She was a donor and a very close friend, who battled hard, never complained and went through hell. This is why I do it. She inspired me to go back to doing this after having skipped a few years," said Roser.
Up to last year, the display remained all the same. This year, Roser rearranged everything for the memorial, put donated items on display and some items into temporary retirement. It includes a "Candy Cane Lane," characters from Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer, choirboys, penguins, and a sled that belonged to Roser's wife when she was a child.
Last year, the fundraising effort collected $9,000. This year, already $200 has been collected to date, and the lights haven't turned on yet. Roser said a 6-year-old boy held a painted rock sale to help him raise money for the cause.
"I thought it was amazing that our display inspired a little boy to contribute," he said.
This is the sixth year that Roser will be fundraising with his display, starting in 2015 when he raised $300. That figure shot up to $9,000 last year. Fanwood PBA and Fabio’s Bistro were the single largest donors.
Donations are being accepted in multiple forms as outlined below:
- There is a secure lock box next to the front door at 83 Paterson Rd Fanwood. Checks to "NJID" or cash can be deposited there.
- Checks made to "NJID" can be mailed to 83 Paterson Road
- You can go to www.njid.org and donate through the secure website/Paypal. Right before you click on the final "Donate Now," there is a Notes section. Type "ROSER," and your donation will be credited to this fundraising campaign.
Greg Roser would like to thank the community for its support.
"I want to do everything possible to continue this tradition, Please help me help the disabled children at NJID," Roser said.
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