BY JOHN SNYDER
OF PASCACK PRESS
WESTWOOD, N.J. —Organizers say plans are set for the Pascack Valley’s biggest parade of the year. And oh, how the hot chocolate will flow!
Home for the Holidays Parade and Tree Lighting, which is expected to draw an estimated 4,000 revelers, is set for Dec. 2. Mark your calendar or follow the crowds.
According to Westwood Gallery owner Mike Fitzsimmons—a former Chamber of Commerce president and a prominent borough booster—visitors can expect costumed characters, clowns, marching bands, dance troupes, floats, and free hot chocolate and glow sticks.
This year’s theme is holiday fairytales.
At the center of it all is the central business district, which is pulling out all the stops for a fun time that locals know traditionally inaugurates the holiday season.
The festivities kick off at approximately 5:30 p.m. with performances at the Veterans Memorial Park bandstand, and with a DJ stationed near Starbucks.
For the second year, snowflakes will illuminate Westwood Avenue, which will be closed to traffic around 4 p.m., and will decorate downtown for the season.
The snowflakes are courtesy of the Borough of Westwood, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Westwood Taxpayers Alliance.
The parade is scheduled to head out at 6 p.m. from Five Corners—Westwood Avenue and Kinderkamack Road—and end at Veterans’ Memorial Park with the arrival of Santa Claus on Westwood Fire Department Engine 14.
There, a Christmas tree and candles will be lit, and hospitality and open houses will warm all along the avenue.
MaryAlice Farella, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said the event is particularly important to merchants this year as Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, when stores are closed by dint of the county’s blue laws.
“It’s a wonderful long-time tradition. We hope it gets people into the holiday spirit,” she said of the event.
According to Mayor John Birkner Jr., Home For the Holidays showcases all that is wonderful about Westwood.
“From the shops and restaurants, the amazing number of volunteers that put it all together, the community organizations that participate, and all of the house parties celebrating good tidings and cheer, Westwood becomes a real-life Bedford Falls,” he said, referring to the idyllic town from “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
He added, “When I’m up on the bandstand getting ready to light our town tree I half expect George Bailey [Jimmy Stewart’s character in the classic Frank Capra film] to weave his way through the crowd to help with the countdown.”