CALDWELL-WEST CALDWELL AREA, NJ — The holiday season kicked off this week in the Caldwell-West Caldwell area with Christmas tree and Menorah lighting ceremonies in each of the respective towns

Festivities began in West Caldwell on Friday with a tree lighting ceremony hosted by the West Caldwell-Caldwell Recreation Department and the West Caldwell Volunteer Fire Department at the Crane Park Gazebo.

Members of the fire department escorted Santa Clause to the gazebo, where entertainment was provided by DJ Joe Garamella, Detective Paul Mazzeo, the James Caldwell High School chorus and more. Once the tree was lit, Santa returned to the West Caldwell Civic Center for photo opportunities and refreshments.

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A similar ceremony was held the following night in Caldwell, sponsored again by the shared recreation department and the Caldwell Volunteer Fire Department. A holiday tricky tray was held for the benefit of the fire department, and a holiday parade delighted the crowd.

"The Caldwell Holiday Tree Lighting on Dec. 1 was very well attended,” said Caldwell Mayor Ann Dassing. “I'd like to thank the Caldwell Volunteer Fire Department and the Caldwell DPW (department of public works) for helping to make this such a memorable event for our families.

“The Menorah Lighting on Dec. 4 was also very well attended, and we all enjoyed listening to the fifth grade class of Agudath Israel sing songs to celebrate the light that shines and brings families together in this season.”

Rabbi Silverstein of Agudath Israel joined West Caldwell Mayor Joseph Tempesta in lighting the Menorah outside the Civic Center, where a small Hanukkah Party was held. Children enjoyed cookies and hot chocolate while playing with dreidels and decorating paper dreidels.

Educational Director Susan Werk of Congregation Agudath Israel lit the Menorah in Caldwell as Rabbi Ari Lucas and fifth graders from Congregation Agudath Israel said prayers and sang songs. Other notables in attendance were Caldwell Councilwoman-Elect Christine Schmidt, Caldwell Director of Public Works Mario BiFalco, Caldwell Police Chief James Bongiorno and Caldwell Councilman Pasquale Capozzoli.

All of the photos above were provided by Janet Markman of Janet Markman Photography.