By Olivia Yepez
Picture a chilly December night in New Jersey. Everyone is bundled up in the heart of Morristown, buzzing with anticipation for the holiday magic to come.
Of course, we’re talking about Santa’s arrival, and the Lighting of the Green ceremony that will start the Christmas Festival at the Morristown Green. It all happens this Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, at 5 p.m.
“It’s such a nostalgic thing for so many people in the area,” said Karen Roettger, who is helping Executive Director Jennifer Wehring and her team at the Morristown Partnership present the annual festivities.
The downtown business organization pays attention to tradition, Roettger said, to preserve the holiday spirit that keeps people coming back year after year. This marks the 106th Lighting of the Green, and 19 years since the Partnership began organizing the Festival in 2000.
Just as in past years, Santa will descend from the Century 21 department store roof at North Park Place and lead revelers in a countdown to the holiday illumination of the historic Green.
The festive lights will stay lit through mid-January.
After the ceremony, Santa settle into his cozy house to take kids’ gift requests and pose for pictures . The photos cost $10, but everything else will be free.
This is the only affair each year that the Partnership hosts at a deficit, to ensure community members can access the festivities for free, Roettger said.
Participants can sip hot chocolate and munch on cookies donated by the Hyatt Regency Morristown.
Look for free mini-train rides and ice sculpture demonstrations during the Festival, which runs through Dec. 22. Goryeb Children’s Hospital will sponsor a session where kids can make holiday cards for children in hospitals, and for their families.
Because of its popularity in past years, gingerbread house-making will be featured twice this season. Another crowd-pleaser, A Merry Tuba Christmas, is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 21, at 3 pm.
But Santa always is the star of this show.
“Nothing beats Santa coming down from that rooftop and seeing everyone,” said Roettger, who is director of development for the Partnership.
“I’ve been doing this so many years, I tend to be looking straight ahead (at the crowd) when everyone else is looking straight up (at Santa).”
That moment of wonder warms her heart–whatever the weather–and captures the holiday spirit perfectly, she said.
The Christmas Festival at the Morristown Green runs from 3 pm to 8 p.m. on Fridays, and from noon to 7 p.m.on Saturdays and Sundays.
A full schedule will be released by the Partnership over the next few days.
MorristownGreen.com correspondent Olivia Yepez is an honors student at Drew University (’22), where she is an editor of The Acorn.