By Dawn M Chiossi
During this time of the year, it’s a good time for looking backward. Turning the page to a time of nostalgia where community gathered together just to catch up and celebrate, Pompton Lakes is ringing in the holiday with their annual Pompton Lakes Holiday Stroll.
This event is slated to take place on December 1st with a raindate of December 8th at Wanaque Ave in Pompton Lakes. Decorated and adorned, the road will even be closed for the occasion.
The Pompton Lakes Holiday Stroll is sponsored by the Pompton Lakes Chamber of Commerce and Business Improvement District (BID).
The Pompton Lakes Holiday Stroll is perhaps something akin to It’s A Wonderful Life’s Bedford Falls, in spirit at least. During this event, people gather together to, not only celebrate and kick off the holiday, but to reconnect, relax, and socialize, away from the stress of the everyday. Family, friends, acquaintances, coworkers, no one is immune to the cozy feeling this time of the year, or the magic when people get together.
This event is perfect for Pompton Lakes residents and non-residents alike. Ideal for people of all ages, there will be something for everyone. There’s a holiday parade beginning at 4:30, where everyone is free to walk along, to a tree lighting, to visits with Santa, to so much more!
Many various business and organizations participate, and are excited to do so every year.
For Pompton Lakes, the annual Holiday Stroll is more than just an event, it is a tradition. A tradition that, according to organizer Robert Walker, is actually celebrating its 60th anniversary. Warm and passionate regarding both the Holiday Stroll and his community, it is easy to see that Walker puts his heart into it. “Other towns, other places have tree lighting ceremonies, other holiday events, but this is something special,” he shares. “Ours is a big old fashioned community event.”
And one that the town has embraced wholeheartedly.
Even before the parade, there’s so much to enjoy. There will be choirs, bands, dance troupes, live theater, skits, cartoon characters greeting visitors, and many more delights.
“This is a real show,” Pompton Lakes Mayor Michael Serra, praises, “It’s great.”
It seems that the sprit is contagious; the Pompton Lakes Holiday Stroll is so popular that easily over 15,000 people attend! “In a town where the population is approximately 11,000 people, that’s saying something,” Walker quips. “Folks look forward to this every year. They’ll even show up from other towns.” He mentions that people who have grown up in Kinnelon who have moved away will often come back with their own families to enjoy the tradition. Friends of friends will come, even people from as far away as New York State!
In addition to the parade, there will be a tree lighting ceremony with a special guest to help light it. As to who it might be, “It’s a big surprise,” is all Walker will say, “Folks are going to love it.”
Streets will be aglow with lights, and everyone will sing a rousing “Here Comes Santa Claus” when Santa and Mrs. Claus arrives on the fire truck soon after at 5:15.
Everyone from the library, to the various scouts, to the police, to the restaurants and even Starbucks is taking part in this old fashioned community event. There will be a myriad of food vendors to tempt the appetite. Local business will be staying open late to greet the community, serving hot chocolate, treats, and so much more.
There will be vendors, and lots for the kids to enjoy including bouncy houses, face painting, giant slide, games, performers, cartoon characters, and a photo booth.
And of course, free pics with Santa at the library.
For Walker, the Holiday Stroll is a labor of love. And it’s one that he credits to so many. “There’s a whole host of people involved to make this happen,” Walker praises.
In the midst of this fun and festivity, people are urged to not to forget about the true spirit of the holiday: giving to others. The Pompton Lakes Holiday Stroll is pleased to announce that the Toys for Tots Train is back again! Rain or shine, from 1:05 to 150pm, people are invited to participate in Operation Toy Train. Just drop off new and unwrapped toys at the Pompton Lakes Train Station at One Station Plaza, Wanaque Ave and Lakeside Ave.
According to Organizer, Tom Troast, the event has been going on for approximately 10 years. “The Toys for Tots Train is one of the largest stops and is intensely popular. “The old train stops for approximately 45 minutes,” Troast explains. “People just love it. They are dropping off presents at 10:00 or 11:00 in the morning sometimes way before the event, just to participate in the program.
“It’ a real festive atmosphere,” Troast discloses, “There’s old time DJ’s, music, Girl Scouts are giving out candy canes: All to load up toys, to give to others.”
It’s something that touches us all. Walker adds, “Seeing that large turnout is so moving…Just seeing the generosity of the people gets me every time.”