Annual tree lighting brightens South Orange


Photo via Facebook/SetonVillageSO

Seton Hall University isn’t the only place hosting a tree lighting ceremony this holiday season.

The South Orange Seton Village Committee is bringing back “Light Up the Holidays in Seton Village!” to the community for the third year from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 3 in and around the pocket park at Irvington and West Fairview Avenues in South Orange.

“The event started the first year that the Seton Village Committee existed,” said Doug Zacker, Seton Village Committee Chair. That was in 2014.

Zacker said the purpose of the event is to celebrate everything that is going on in Seton Village and to bring the community together during this time of year.

“The holidays are a great time to celebrate because they are so joyous and festive,” Zacker said.

“Light Up the Holidays in Seton Village!” is produced by the Seton Village Committee in conjunction with the Village of South Orange, the South Orange Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs and the South Orange Department of Public Works, with support from Seton Hall University and Work & Play of South Orange.

“SHU has been a great partner of Seton Village,” Zacker said. “Every year students have come to volunteer with the kids activities. Anyone who wants to volunteer should get in touch with the Student Government Association (SGA).”

This year Santa will be arriving by convertible where he will then light the tree and take pictures with attendees. The event will feature various activities, such as musical entertainment from SHU’s a cappella group Gentlemen of the Hall and children’s activities provided by Work & Play of South Orange.

Deborah Engel, founder of Work & Play, said they will be offering activity stations that will allow children to use their imagination and play in a creative way.

Refreshments will be provided, Seton Village t-shirts will be available for purchase and local restaurants will feature special offers and discounts.

Zacker said that his favorite memory from putting on this event for the last two years is doing the photos with Santa because he gets to see all the different reactions that kids and parents have.

“There are kids that won’t get off Santa’s lap and bring a list of things to ask for,” he said. “There are kids who cry as they get near Santa. Some parents of the crying kids ignore the kids and have the picture taken anyway, while some parents forego the picture altogether. It’s a wonderful reminder of all of the different characters that exist out there. This year, for the first time, the SHU Pirate will be in attendance in his blue Santa gear.”

Freshman Gabriella Goldwarm, a diplomacy and international relations major, has never been to a tree lighting before and is considering attending this event.

“I think it’s a great event because it gets people into the holiday spirit and makes the anticipation better,” Goldwarm said.
Jack Einstein, a freshman diplomacy and international relations major, agreed that it’s a nice event because it brings the community together.

Besides the Gentlemen of the Hall, there will also be other entertainment provided. InterACT Theatre Productions will perform music from an upcoming children’s show and the Columbia High School a cappella group will perform right before them.

Rebecca White can be reached at
Justine Strzepek can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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