For 40 years, many residents in New Providence have always considered the official start to the holiday season to be the day after Thanksgiving. While you may be thinking this is because of all the Black Friday deals at local shops and malls, think again. It's truly because of a townwide tradition that residents hold near and dear to their hearts — the annual New Providence Christmas Walk.
With downtown New Providence decked out in holiday decor, this much anticipated event always brings holiday cheer to residents with a little help from carolers, live animals and a nativity scene, sweets and treats from more than 40 participating businesses, fun activities, and a visit from Santa himself.
"It's a great time to see the NPHS band perform. The whole town comes out and the downtown is crowded with residents all excited for the start of the holday season," said Michelle Brugger, President of the New Providence Business & Professional Assocation. "The kids are smiling from ear to ear, excited to see Santa and Mrs. Claus. It's a wonderful time for everyone, young and old, to come together to kick off the holidays!"
Festivities will kickoff at 5:30 p.m. with the live nativity scene and live animals at The Presbyterian Church at New Providence. But make sure you get your spot in front of The Provident Bank on South Street by 6 p.m., as Santa will magically appear on the rooftop of the Bank in traditional fashion, Brugger said. Alongside the New Providence High School Marching Band, (which took home first place awards at recent State and National Championships), the New Providence Fire Department will parade Santa up South Street, onto Springfield Avenue and into the Village Shopping Center.
But that's just the beginning of this festive evening.
Besides the NPHS Marching Band, live music will fill the air from the Hickory Tree Chorus and High School carolers who will be walking all throughout the walk, said Joe Steiner, owner of Organization Resources and a consultant for the NPBPA. Santa and Mrs. Claus can be found throughout the downtown area, while the NPHS Marching Band Parents will be selling hot pretzels to raise money for the band.
Other activities, events, and offers not miss at the Christmas Walk include: a roving Stilt Walker; complimentary roses at New Providence Florist; a sand art station in front of Kidding Around Childrenswear; a raffle drawing at Timony Agency; a clown and balloons at Colonial Appliance; and a chili tasting at Old Glory Restaurant, among many others.
With Small Business Saturday being the day after the Christmas Walk, Steiner said many downtown businesses will be offering specials on their holiday merchandise.
"Traditionally, this started out as the showcase for the fall season merchandise and in the beginning, no one was even allowed to have their cash register open," Steiner explained. "It was a showcase and everyone saw what was going on and came back to buy the following week. Nowadays, it’s up and ready, and available now."
There will be other local organizations represented at the walk, including the Downtown Beautification Committee, the New Providence Rescue Squad and the New Providence Police Department.
Sponsors of this walk are the New Providence Downtown Improvement District, the New Providence Fire Department, and the New Providence High School Band.
"I'd like to thank the residents of New Providence for their continued support of the businesses in New Providence," Bruggeer said. "I'd like to thank the local businesses for always giving back to the community and the residents of New Providence by hosting fun and exciting events like these. I'd like to wish everyone a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season!"