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Collingswood Prepares to Celebrate Decades of its Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony


As Halloween wraps up, people’s attention quickly begins to turn to Christmas. And in Collingswood, the preparations for Santa to usher in the sea- son are already well underway. Continuing a tradition that has existed in the town since the ‘80s, the day after Thanksgiving will be celebrated with the official tree lighting ceremony, where Santa himself will make his grand entrance for the holidays.

The event is sponsored by the borough, and Lindsey Ferguson, Collingswood’s Director of Community and Business Development, is the one who coordinates events for the borough. Though she is new to the role, having just started in September, Ferguson is well-acquainted with the beloved tradition and is excited to help make the first tree lighting she works on, in this position, a success. According to Ferguson, the itinerary for the big night is already laid out.

“All of our residents and neighbors gather around Borough Hall,” said Ferguson as she explained the atmosphere from past years. “Everybody gathers on Haddon Avenue. Everybody gets all excited. There are local choral groups, carolers, some of our local school choruses, so there is holiday music beforehand. People are doing hot chocolate, stuff like that. It’s really a family friendly event.”

And, of course, the big highlight of the night is getting to see the Christmas tree lit up. To complete the atmosphere of the winter time vibes, the event also guarantees a “first snow” regardless of what the weather looks like in November. A snow machine is used to create flurries and blanket Haddon Avenue. It creates the perfect backdrop for when Santa arrives to do the honors of making the tree shine.

“Right as it gets dark out,” said Ferguson, “we have a fire truck that pulls up, and Santa comes out on top of Borough Hall and then comes down the ladder and then they light the tree.” But the fun does not end there. Santa will be around afterwards for anyone looking to say hi and meet him in person. The event actually marks the first night of Santa being around Collingswood for the whole season. After the tree lighting on Nov. 25, the people of Collingswood will have many more opportunities to catch Santa, as he is hosted at a variety of local businesses on subsequent nights, such as at the toy shop ExtraordinaryED where he will be available for pictures.

However, there are still more festivities on the night of the tree lighting itself. The cer- emony starts at 7 p.m., but after the 35-foot tree is fully illuminated, there will also be a live ice carving demonstration from Sculpted Ice Works starting at 7:30. Mayor Jim Maley will also be on hand to usher in the fun with a season’s greetings. And after the spectacles, attendees can also get a jumpstart on their holiday shopping in the downtown area of Collingswood.

Residents should also return the next day, because Nov. 26 is the town’s holiday parade starting at 10:00 a.m. “We always have a couple Mummers groups,” Ferguson said, explaining what attendees can expect. “We generally have marching bands from the sur- rounding schools, from Collingswood, from Camden, Haddon Pike, Pennsauken. Lots of local businesses will participate as well, some sponsors. Boy scout troops, girl scout troops, holiday characters, sports mascots. Always a good time. It was voted the best Main Street experience in the last couple years as well.” The parade starts at Zane and Haddon avenues.

The whole event has plenty to offer for everyone and usually sees hundreds in atten- dance for the whole thing. For those who can’t make it out, there is ample opportunity to admire the twinkling holiday lights, with the Christmas tree staying up until the end of January. But the town is expecting as big a turnout as ever, especially with this being the big return to form after the health restric- tions of the last two years.

“I think this is the first full year of partial normalcy,” said Ferguson. “So we’re even more excited for this year. It’s tradition, it’s very family friendly, but it also really helps support our downtown businesses which have done so much to survive these last couple years and worked so hard. So we’re also just really happy to bring more people downtown to see what there is to offer here, because there’s a lot.”

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