LONG BRANCH: Santa arrived seated in his private train this year at the Tree Lighting ceremony at Pier Village where hundreds of locals from 6 months to 66 years gathered to welcome him.
The Long Branch Schools set a welcoming marching band, twirlers and a chorus of Yule Tide singers who delighted the crowd.
The Holiday Express Holiday Show with Tim McLoone and The Shirleys songstress trio gave their great season performance with the audience dancing, prancing and joining I the melodies.
The 9-foot tall high stepping man in red had the children helping with his fun play, helping him recover the juggling tools he occasionally dropped, right at their feet so they could toss them back for the next child to take a helping turn.
It was a cold night, but most kept warm moving about. For those who needed a hand warming, most of the shops at the Pier Village Plaza were open, food and beverage as well as gift stores.
The traditional hot chocolate was missed this year. In the past the chocolate treat kept visitors on the concourse.
At the right moment the music paused as Tim gave the countdown - one, two, three - and the tree lit up to hundreds of Merry Christmas cheers.