SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Store windows decorated with Christmas themes, vendors lining the street, a vast variety of food, games for all ages, performances and Santa Claus mingling with crowds giving out candy canes was the scene in Downtown South Plainfield on Saturday for the Sixth Annual Christmas in July Celebration.  Taking place yearly on South Plainfield Avenue and Old Hamilton Boulevard, the festival has become a summer favorite for residents.

“Christmas in July showcases Downtown South Plainfield,” said Mayor Matthew Anesh.  “It gives us the ability to bring in some of the home-based businesses and smaller businesses that are around the area to gather in one place in town, where people can come for several hours and enjoy themselves.”

As has become a Christmas in July tradition to officially open the event, the South Plainfield High School Marching Band paraded into Downtown South Plainfield leading Santa Claus, Anesh and members of Council through the streets promptly at 10am Saturday morning.  Dressed in his summer attire of a Hawaiian shirt, shorts and a red stocking straw hat, Santa waved to the crowds as he marched through hundreds of attendees with South Plainfield Borough officials.

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“Good morning, everyone!” said Anesh as he welcome those who attended.  “It’s an honor to be here in South Plainfield for the Sixth Annual Christmas in July festival…I appreciate our very family friendly community and a giving business relationship as well.  We want to make South Plainfield a destination for everybody and the destination of Middlesex County.  So Merry Christmas!” 

This year, 75 vendors took part in the event, which was begun six years ago to promote local businesses.  The Cultural Arts Committee sponsored a Window Decorating Contest and participants had the opportunity to paint Christmas scenes on the windows of downtown shops in the days leading up to the event.  Magic 98.3 broadcasted live on location for a majority of the day.  Children were invited to take part in carnival games, a hula hoop contest and balloon toss.  The day unfolded smoothly with ongoing activities and performances.

“This is the biggest Christmas in July that we’ve had,” said Cathy Herman, Christmas in July Committee Member.

Among the long list of vendors who participated in the event were: Investor’s Bank of South Plainfield, 9 Round Fitness, Lisa’s Hand Crafted Gifts & More, Innovate Salon Academy, The South Plainfield Democrat Organization, Said Miller Tarot Card Readings, Wreaths & Trees, Touchstone, Just the Crumb, Start Right Nursery School, Paparazzi, Scentsy, Argan Caravan Beauty Products, Fabric Dog Collars, Leashes & Treats, LuLaRoe, Brennan & Sons sheets and pillows, and many more.

The first 150 adults and 100 children received swag bags filled with coupons and free gifts.

“There were already 250 people through here by noon because all the swag bags were gone by then,” added Herman.  “We also had ten sponsors for the race track, so that gave free racing all day to everybody.”

A large racetrack of remote-control cars entertained event attendees throughout the day, First Baptist Church took pictures in their photo booth and the S.P.H.S Marching Band’s popular Tricky Tray was stocked with a chance to win one or more bountiful baskets donated by local businesses. The South Plainfield Public Library also had a booth promoting summer reading and upcoming library events.

“We had an amazing turn out,” said Debbie Boyle, Christmas in July Committee Member.  “People were here at 10 in the morning to visit the street and the vendors here.  Thank God the sun came out!”

As with any Christmas celebration, there was plenty to eat.  Little Nicky’s Hot Dogs, Antojos Ticos, Mr. Subs and The Empanada Guy Food Truck had full menus to choose from.  The S.P.H.S Marching Band featured their famous fried Oreos.  First Baptist Church brought meatball sandwiches, cotton candy and popcorn.  Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) made healthy bubble tea and vegetarian spring rolls for the occasion to promote a healthy lifestyle.  And Hadley Communication Technologies kept everyone cool with Italian ices and cold water. 

In all, it’s estimated that well over 500 South Plainfield residents attended this year’s Christmas in July and organizers said it was a tremendous success.

“We’re looking forward to doing this festival as many years as we can,” said Anesh. “I want to thank everyone involved - the Christmas in July Committee, the Business Association, our Department of Public Works and the South Plainfield Police Department for the excellent work they do.  It’s a great day and great weather, so you can’t really ask for too much more.”