Long Branch — The annual Tree Lighting Ceremony was held on Sunday at Pier Village. Only this year it was hosted by the Long Branch Public School District and the City of Long Branch, Greater Long Branch Chamber of Commerce and Pier Village.
The Long Branch Marching Band, Chorus and Flag Twirlers entertained the crowd, a great addition to the ceremony.
Santa arrived earlier than he has in pervious years, and to everyone’s delight this time he rode in on a train waving to the crowd. Santa got off, found his favorite chair by the Christmas tree but the train stayed to offer rides to the young ones around Pier Village.
Holiday Express with Tim McLoone and the Shirleys entertained with a festive array of Christmas carols. There were cartoon characters to have your picture taken with, such as Minions, Rudolph and The Grinch. The one who drew most attention, though was Olaf from the movie “Frozen,” receiving hugs and requests for photos.
Another new attraction was “Big Man in Red” who walked around the crowd on stilts while juggling.
Little kids and some not so little kids sat on Santa’s lap to tell him their Christmas wishes. To end the night McLoone led the countdown as the tree and reindeer lights were lit.
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