Long Branch: Santa was on his way as hundreds waited anxiously for his annual visit to light the Christmas Tree at Festival Plaza in Pier Village.
The plaza was decked out in holiday finery in red and green, bright lights, the stage set for Tim Mc Loone's Band featuring the Shirleys singers. The skating pond was busy and eateries were open to serve appetites, as were merchants with clothes and other items for shoppers.
The "show" started at 4:00 as planned with visitors arriving early with youngsters excited and eyes taking it all in. Weather was seasonal. Friends were busy greeting friends. Miles of smiles, and season greetings abounded.
Santa was due about 5-ish, and McLoone was adding music to the scene, with help from dancers and adding their voices to the familiar songs.
At 5:07 the fire engines echoed into the air, signaling the man in the red suit was moments off, The crowd gathered at the circle and cheering as Santa arrived,
"Ho, Ho, Ho" was heard loud and clear as he climbed down and moved to the tree, shaking hands; large and small, as he sat to welcome the youngsters for any last minute wishes as each visited him, about 100 or more were in line.
City Council members were at the event, and words from Mayor John Pallone extended best wishes for the visitors and townspeople.
Adding to the season's celebrations, the annual Menorah Lighting is on December 1 between City Hall and the Library from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. All are invited.