North Bergen kicked off the holiday season on December 1 with the return of its annual Winterfest celebration, which saw thousands in attendance. The festivities began as usual with a parade down Bergenline Avenue and featured family-friendly music, activities, games, food and, of course, Santa.
“This event is one of the really special highlights of the year for our children and families at the start of the holiday season,” said North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco. “Thank you to all of the police officers, Township staff including members of the DPW, and other volunteers who helped to provide joy and get folks into the spirit, and who make this wonderful event possible every year. I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday and a happy new year.”
Sacco was joined by Commissioners Frank Gargiulo, Allen Pascual, Hugo Cabrera and Julio Marenco and County Commissioner Anthony Vainieri, as well as Santa and Mrs. Claus and a plethora of other characters including Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Elmo, Minnie Mouse and Spider-Man.
Winterfest takes place on Bergenline Avenue between 76th Street and 85th Street and has grown in size each year since its inception in 1994. Among other things, this year’s event featured a multitude of activities for children and families including a small ice rink at the corner of Broadway and 79th Street, pony rides and a horse-drawn carriage in Braddock Park, trackless trains, bounce houses and a rock climbing wall.
This event is supported by the township, the Nicholas J. Sacco Foundation, local businesses and countless volunteers. Following Winterfest on Dec. 2, infants through 9-year-olds had a blast at North Bergen Recreation’s Christmas Party on Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Recreation Center at 6300 Meadowview Ave.
After that, annual Winterfest festivities will take place at locations in midtown and downtown on Tuesday, Dec. 6. There will be more entertainment including free rides, games, face painting, refreshments, goody bag giveaways and choruses from Franklin, McKinley and Kennedy schools. Plus, there will be free photos with Santa.
Festivities take place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Nutrition Center and the new Downtown Recreation Center and Library. The Nutrition Center is located at 1441 45th St. and the Downtown Recreation Center and Library is located at 1231 Kennedy Blvd.
After all the celebrations, the township will also light its Holiday Tree. The Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony has been rescheduled to Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 5 p.m. in Braddock Park.
Originally scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 30, the event was postponed due to inclement weather. The tree lighting will be held at the park entrance near the intersection of Palisade Avenue and Woodcliff Avenue.
Following that, Sacco and the Board of Commissioners will also present North Bergen’s first Holiday Vendor Fair on Saturday, Dec. 10, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Recreation Center at 6300 Meadowview Ave.
Many local vendors and small businesses will be there, offering crafts, toys, gifts, food treats and much more. The event will also feature free photos with Santa from noon to 3 p.m. For those interested in becoming a vendor, call Aimee Focaraccio at 201-923-8815.
Holiday toy drive
In addition to the celebrations, the township is collecting toys for children in need for the holidays.
Sacco and the Board of Commissioners announced the 2022 Toy Drive benefiting local children in need. The drive has been ongoing since Monday, Nov. 28, and will run to Friday, Dec. 16.
Collection points are located at multiple locations throughout North Bergen. Bring new, unwrapped toys to the North Bergen Health Department at 1116 43rd St. on the second floor; the North Bergen Town Hall at 4233 Kennedy Blvd. in the municipal chambers; the North Bergen Police Department at 4233 Kennedy Blvd., on the second floor; the North Bergen Parking Authority at 4225 Bergen Turnpike; the North Bergen Public Library main branch, at 8411 Bergenline Ave.; the Recreation Center and Library at 1231 Kennedy Blvd.; and all North Bergen schools.
The giveaway will be held on Monday, Dec. 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the North Bergen Recreation Center, 6300 Meadowview Ave. Proof of residency and child’s report card are required to participate.
For any family in need of a meal or toys for the holiday, call Aimee Focaraccio at 201-392-0229 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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