“Are we gonna come back tomorrow?” asked Ashely Ordillo as she dashed around the North Bergen Children’s Christmas Party on Saturday, Dec. 1. Her mother, Sandra Ortega, could not be happier.
The town did its part to make Christmas a memorable one for the 500 children who attended. Kids got 525 gifts such as iPods and bicycles. John F Kennedy School’s chorus sang Christmas carols, and cartoon characters came out to greet their adoring audience. Normally the party takes place at Schuetzen Park, but this year it was held at the Recreation Center.
“I enjoy seeing my daughter enjoy it,” said Ortega.
Michelle Lenczuk, who has been attending since she was a child, has now continued attending with her niece, 9-year-old Julianna, and nephew, 5-year-old Joseph Muniz. Joseph was unfortunately sick this year and could not attend. Julianna did and enjoyed the atmosphere along with the iPod Shuffle she won.
“My family has had this yearly tradition since I was a little girl,” said Lenczuk. “It gives us a chance to spend quality time during the holidays. Seeing all the smiles of the children’s faces really brings the Christmas spirit to your heart.”
“Making children happy is one of the surest ways to enjoy the Holidays.” – Mayor Nicholas Sacco
Attendees get snacks from Rose’s Deli along with juice that has been donated by Shop-Rite for 10 years, as well as a photo taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
“It’s a really nice way to kick off the holiday season,” said Police Chief Robert Dowd. “It’s just another great example of everything North Bergen Recreation does.”
Township officials understand that economic times are still hard on families.
“In these hard times many families are struggling financially,” said Commissioner Hugo Cabrera. “The quality of gifts surely made a merrier Christmas for many children.
Some of the many 525 gifts that were given out to the children were 24 bicycles, skateboards, scooters, 80 iPods, 15 headphones games, and assorted gifts for all age groups.
According to Recreation Supervisor John Cellini, the township raised over $30,000 for the gifts that were provided to the children on Saturday, Dec. 1.
Local businesses also play a role in the event as PC Richard and James Vincent Bikes discount their merchandise to make it easier for the town to afford larger quantities of gifts for the children. The toys were obtained from Tons of Toys and Toys “R” Us
“Seeing hundreds of local children get so excited as they receive their gifts and seeing the joy and anticipation in their eyes is always a wonderful experience,” said Mayor Nicholas Sacco.
There were 120 gifts for the children that were unable to attend the party at the Recreation Department on Monday morning.
Sacco began the Christmas Party in 1985 as a means to bring the community together for the holidays.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org