2021 Tree Lighting

Rahway’s Department of Recreation and Senior Services is constantly working to ensure the community has accessible programming and events to serve all our residents, including programs tailored to the specific needs of our youth, senior citizens, and individuals with disabilities and special needs.

These programs include athletic, art, and exercise programs for residents of all ages as well as additional programs and events for seniors like Bingo, and Senior Transportation.  2022 plans to bring back, and expand upon, programs for individuals with disabilities and special needs that were postponed due to the pandemic.

In recent weeks, the Department of Recreation and Senior Services has been diligently working on the Annual Tree Lighting and Winter Wonderland Series to bring the community together to celebrate the holiday season. This year’s planning process was delayed until September due to uncertain COVID-19 standings. This process involves reaching out to various entertainment vendors, creating, and promoting marketing, reaching out to nonprofits and businesses for partnerships, scheduling performances (such as local church groups, school district band, choir, theater, etc.), and scheduling staffing assignments.  This process also involves a heavy lift from the Department of Public Works building Santa’s sleigh, setting up the stages, adding decorations around the downtown, and collaborating with the Police Department to make sure the roads are closed safely.   The Fire Department also lends a big hand setting up fire pits around City Hall Plaza and working with the Police Department to make sure Santa and his parade arrive at the tree.  The Special Improvement District also contributes heavily to the new holiday decorations around town.

Typically, in the weeks leading up to the Annual Tree Lighting and Winter Wonderland, the Department of Recreation and Senior Services begins creating 1,500 giveaway bags for the festivities. This process begins the day after Halloween to ensure that enough bags are created for the crowds that are expected to Rahway’s traditional events.  As the event approaches, within a week from the event, multiple vans and trailers are loaded up with the appropriate equipment so that set up is seamless. The day of the event, staff drops off and sets up the equipment, tables, giveaways, etc. and organizes the event space into zones with zone leaders to ensure all vendors are accounted for and in the correct locations.

Rahway’s Department of Recreation and Senior Services Director, Anthony Deige Jr. expresses his commitment to the Rahway community and his gratitude for the City of Rahway staff that works tirelessly through the holiday and enthusiastically to ensure these events go off smoothly. “It’s a very encompassing event that’s grown over the years and requires a major team effort.  It starts at the top with Mayor Giacobbe and his administration being devoted to providing an amazing holiday experience to residents.  The Police Department, the Fire Department, Traffic, and the Department of Public Works all pitch in.  We’ve had to systemize the planning of the event to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.  The covid-19 curveball gives us a chance to be creative and expand the once one-day event into a series of events.  We also had to move away from entertainment with touch points (rides, bounce houses, trackless trains) and focus on visual entertainment, so expect some surprises in the form of Stilt Walkers, Live Music, and other festive characters strolling around Rahway through the holiday season.”