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Fort Lee Lights Up For The Holidays

Fort Lee’s third annual tree lighting celebration

Hundreds of people gathered at the Thursday evening for the borough’s third annual holiday tree lighting celebration.

The event was complete with a DJ, hot chocolate and other treats, fake snow, a visit from Santa and, of course, the lighting of Fort Lee’s roughly 25-foot holiday tree.

“Every time we do something like this, there’s a lot of volunteers, and there’s a lot of people that help us,” Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich said, addressing the many children and families gathered in front of the stage built to look like a sleigh. “And without volunteers, and without people helping the community, a lot of this is not possible.”

The tree was donated by Robert and David Caffaso of and purchased from , which provided it at a reduced rate, according to Fort Lee attorney and event organizer Marc Macri.

Sokolich said Macri, who happens to be the mayor’s law partner, “is like a brother and a best friend to me.”

“And I’m going to tell you that every day for the last month, he’s been working on making sure this night is special for you,” Sokolich said, going on to thank the members of the Borough Council, who joined him onstage, “for letting us do these crazy things every once in a while.”

Then with the help of some local kids, Sokolich started a countdown, which culminated in a chain reaction-like lighting that started at the community center building and ended with the illumination of the tree.

Macri plans the annual event with a small group that also includes Mike Maresca of the Fort Lee DPW, who built the special stage and set up the tree; Cheryl Weston of the community center; Borough Administrator Peggy Thomas and borough technician Sam Ghali, who handled some pretty sophisticated lighting.

After Sokolich’s remarks and the lighting of the community center and tree, a drum line and color guard from marched down a portion of Anderson Avenue accompanying a fire truck carrying Santa. Kids then had a chance to have their picture taken with the “Jolly Old Elf” for free; parents just have to come back to pick up the pictures Monday.

The Caffaso family not only donated the tree, they also served hot chocolate, donuts and cookies—as has also become a tradition—bringing their employees at their own cost to serve the many Fort Lee holiday revelers.

Tracy December 10, 2011 at 01:51 AM
It was a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season! A big thank you for all the people who made it happen!
Donna Brennan December 10, 2011 at 02:47 AM
Exactly Tracy. Thanks to the Mayor and Council, and all the volunteers that made the "magic" happen. What I loved about the program is it was all inclusive and represented a multi cultural holiday celebration. This party was for "all" the town's residents. All I can say is Fort Lee put on one fabulous show. It was a great night......
Arya F. Jenkins December 10, 2011 at 04:38 AM
Thanks Donna. You make greed look good. That photo of Santa is priceless. And the slo mo grabby hands made me smile. Thank god there were no gifts, there might have been a stampede with people hurt and the ambulance having to come to the rescue. LOL. I guess that's Christmas for you.
carol simon December 10, 2011 at 05:57 PM
Spectacular!

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