With his hand firmly gripping the giant light switch, Council President Rolando Lavarro helped officially usher in the 2016 Christmas season in the Newport section of Jersey City on Dec. 2, the 14th year that business and political leaders gathered to kick off the holiday season and light the Newport Christmas Tree.
With tall buildings towering over the Newport Center park, local officials said this ceremony is part of a two decades-long effort to rebuild the waterfront.
Newport and the LeFrak families have often been credited as pioneers in helping to redevelop an area that was once in near-complete decay.
Victorian carolers sang traditional songs to help get the crowd into the mood, while nearby, Newport’s Morton Williams supermarket supplied hot chocolate and cookies for adults and kids.
Two children from the Stevens Cooperative School helped Lavarro with the lighting. The symbolic switch set off a musical and light show sequence that had many kids ooh and aahing with delight.
But most of the scores of kids really came to meet Santa Claus, who sat under an awning to pose for pictures and listen to the children’s Christmas requests.
“This is an important event in Jersey City.” – Rolando Lavarro.
Lavarro said this was an important occasion for helping to bring the community together in a positive way.
“This is an important event in Jersey City,” Lavarro said.
Traditionally, the mayor flicks the switch, but Mayor Steven Fulop later said he could not get out of an important meeting so Lavarro served in his place.
Although the area is known for its mall and assortment of business buildings, Newport has become defined as a neighborhood in its own right, something that emerged out of the growth of the city’s economic base.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.