LONG BRANCH: Things warmed up in time to welcome visitors to Pier Village on Nov. 30 to open the holiday season.
The decorations on the lawn at Festival Plaza - the reindeer formed from fir tree branches, the 30 foot Christmas tree, the open sleigh looking as if jumped from the pages of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" - were ready for the 21st Annual Holiday Greetings event.
The Rock and Roll Chorus from Howell High School was on the promenade stage and was received warmly by the crowd familiar with the musical delights they bring to the city each year. They started the program with "Winter Wonderland" and closed with "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," a reminder to the excited children that Santa would arrive soon.
The Holiday Express with Tim McLoone and the Shirleys followed the R&R Chorus with a complete musical collection of season melodies accompanied by the gleeful crowd of celebrants.
The holidays had arrived in "Fun City" when Santa arrived by fire truck and hugged and greeted the little ones, some a little nervous until he called his magical "Ho Ho Ho."
The happy tension mounted as the Councilwoman Mary Jane Celli and Santa counted down the seconds to the lighting of the tree, "Ten; nine; eight ....." All turned and counted along for the magic moment when they shouted a grand cheer as the tree lit up the plaza.