SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD, NJ - South Orange and Maplewood have been celebrating the holidays with tree lightings, Santa visits, and more. Here's a recap of last week's SOMA holiday happenings.

POP 'N SHOP GRAND OPENING

At noon on Thursday, Dec. 7, there was a ribbon cutting and opening of the South Orange Village Center Alliance (SOVCA) Pop 'n Shop, which is located in the former Blockbuster space on South Orange Ave. South Orange Village President Sheena Collum and SOVCA Executive Director Bob Zuckerman cut the ribbon for the opening of this year's Pop 'n Shop, which is now in its fourth year.

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Zuckerman shared that South Orange's Pop 'n Shop is the most successful store of its type in New Jersey, which is why it returns each holiday season. Collum stated that there are 40 different artisans, crafters and vendors this year, and encouraged everyone in the two towns to come out and support them and all the local businesses.

LIGHT UP THE HOLIDAYS IN SETON VILLAGE 

On Friday night, Dec. 8, the Seton Village Association hosted a tree lighting event, with entertainment from Class Act, InterAct, and Unaccompanied Minors. Munchies provided an assortment of snacks, and there was both technical and physical support from the South Orange Recreation Department and Seton Hall University students who volunteered their time to work with kids. Santa and the Seton Hall Pirate arrived atop the trunk of a blue convertible, which was driven by South Village President, and Seton Hall alum, Sheena Collum.

Collum gave a few words of welcome and encouragement to shop local and then led the countdown to the lighting of the tree.

SOUTH ORANGE HOMETOWN HOLIDAY 

On Saturday afternoon, Dec. 9, South Orange held its annual Hometown Holiday celebration. Children could visit Santa at the firehouse in South Orange, where Matt Glass, President of South Orange Village Center Alliance, was taking photos of children and their families visiting Santa. Then Santa and the Elf Parade went to 76 South Orange Avenue for the tree lighting. 

DICKENS VILLAGE

In Maplewood, Dickens Village was full of events as well on Saturday, Dec. 9.  The day began with three Breakfast with Santa events, followed by a variety of activities at Dickens Village in the center of Maplewood Village.

SPRINGFIELD AVENUE MULTI-CULTURAL HOLIDAY CELEBRATION

The holiday celebrations continued on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 10, with the Springfield Avenue Alliance holding their annual multi-cultural holiday celebration at the gazebo on Springfield Ave.

The program kicked off with some words of welcome from Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca and music by Bruno Lee’s Bet HaSHEM throughout the afternoon. Shortly after Santa and his elf arrived, riding high on a Maplewood fire engine. Santa set up a receiving spot and was available all afternoon for the kids to visit, as well as some adults, too. 

There was a face painting station, balloon animals, and treats including hot chocolate and free Belgium waffles. Live entertainment included the Seth Boyden chorus and performers from Inspirational Dance. During the afternoon, the Hilton Library had story telling and arts and crafts activities for the kids.

At dusk, Santa and DeLuca led the countdown and the tree was lit. DeLuca told the crowd that starting on the night of Dec. 12, the first candle will be lit for the Hanukah Festival and each night an additional one will be lit until all eight have been lit.  DeLuca also said that on Dec. 26, the Kinara will be lit in honor of the Kwanzaa holiday. A public Hanukah lighting ceremony will be held in Ricalton Park on Monday evening, Dec. 18,, at 6:15 p.m.