They swayed to the holiday music, gazed at the glittering lights and were ecstatic to see Elsa and the other characters from “Frozen.”
And for the grand finale, they shouted excitedly to a waving Santa Claus.
Thousands of residents celebrated the holiday season from the safety of their own vehicles at the local 2020 Holiday Drive-Through Spectacular at Belleville High School on Wednesday.
This Winter Wonderland of fun and festivities began on Passaic Avenue and wound its way through Buccaneer Way on the high school campus.
Along the route, volunteers from several civic groups, local businesses, municipal departments and the Board of Education used baskets to safely pass small gifts and snacks to children of all ages through the vehicles’ windows. For instance, the Board of Education gave out holiday-themed head bands and oversized sunglasses.
In other spots along the route, people dressed as illuminated snowflakes and dancing penguins and other characters greeted residents. Some of the students from Belleville High School volunteered to be in costume, waving from the sides.
Everyone kept moving to the beat of the holiday music, courtesy of three disc jockeys who played classics such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Feliz Naivdad,” as well as contemporary hits such as “All I Want For Christmas.”
The idea for the Holiday Drive-Through Spectacular was hatched when the off switch was thrown on the annual Township tree lighting because of COVID-19. And because the traditional event was canceled because of safety issues didn’t mean that residents didn’t get to see the tree being lit, however.
Every set of 10 cars pulled up to a corner of Buccaneer Way where a countdown commenced and the lights on the tree were turned on.
“This has been such a difficult year for so many in our township,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Richard Tomko. “To be able to fill this night with joy, laughter and some holiday magic…it was needed this year more than any other.”
“We were so happy to partner with Dr. Tomko, the Board of Education and our great school district for this event,” added Mayor Michael Melham. “So many people put in so much time and effort in the planning and they put on a wonderful show. It was bright and the mood was festive. I feel like the whole town showed up to enjoy this.”
Registration for the Holiday Drive-Through Spectacular was originally limited to 800 cars to allow everyone between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to see the tree lighting, but it was clear in the days leading up to the event that interest had swelled. Some cars that showed up before 6 p.m. were allowed to go down the route in an attempt to accommodate all the residents.
Those attending the event were encouraged to contribute to theTownship’s Holiday Sock Drive. The socks that were collected will be donated to local homeless shelters and community kitchens to be distributed to those in need.
“This has been such a magic night and I am so happy that we were able to put some smiles on some faces tonight,” Board of Education President Christine Lamparello. “We hope everyone has happy holidays and a happy and safe new year.”