Deck the Halls

City prepares for annual tree lighting ceremony with help from local Girl Scouts, businesses and community members

Westfield Girl Scouts Kaitlyn, from left, Nicole and Tiffany Adams and Tori Vivirito string lights on the Westfield Christmas Tree

The Downtown Westfield Association, its partners and city officials are prepared to kick off the holiday season and literally light up the spirits of the community on Nov. 30. The annual Westfield in Lights tree lighting and community event in downtown Westfield will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Farmer’s Market area.

“It’s a three-block event,” explained Event Chairwoman Wendy Vivirito. “We’re anticipating 1,500 to 2,000 people.”

Viviroto said the event will stretch from Hadley Park north to Christ United Methodist Church and west to City Hall.

“A number of downtown merchants will be open for holiday shopping,” she added.

Even if you aren’t searching for anything specific, Viviroto said residents should peruse Main Street and participate in the Merchant Light Competition sponsored by Westfield in Bloom.

“Who has the best lights display? Our residents will vote on it through Christmas on the Westfield in Bloom Facebook page,” she said.

The annual free community event was previously held at Redman Park before moving to its current location last year. In the final year at Redman Park, approximately 500 people attended the ceremony where a shorter tree was cut down, replanted, and used for the city tree. A 20-foot spruce tree was planted last November and dubbed as the City Tree for all future events.

“We’re trying to identify that as the community gathering space when the community comes together for special events,” explained Anne Poynter, Downtown Westfield Association executive director.

“We outgrew the space and moved it due to safety issues,” added Viviroto. “The new location allows us to house everything in a couple of city blocks and still provide safety for our guests.”

The tree lighting is just one of the events scheduled for the evening. Viviroto said other activities include carriage rides around town with historic stops and presentations from Westfield Playhouse actors, local carolers and dancers, a live nativity scene. Inside buildings adjacent to the Farmer’s Market area will house the Girl Scouts Gingerbread House competition and a Winter Market.

“There’s a wide variety of activities to treat every one of our residents in the community that comes out that night,” said Viviroto. “From visiting with friends at the fire pits to taking a horse carriage ride and learning Westfield’s history, there’s something for everyone at any age to just come out and enjoy the holidays with your neighbors.”

Mr. and Mrs. Claus will also be making their first appearance in Westfield this year that night. The couple will be available to hear children’s Christmas wish lists and to have their photo taken.

“My favorite part is when Santa and Mrs. Claus get up on stage and the kids scream like they were rock stars,” said Poynter. “The kids bring an energy and you can’t be an adult and not feel it.”

Westfield in Lights is the last major event the organization will host this calendar year.

“There’s a lot more people attending then we’re used to at the events,” said Poynter. “The community is beginning to gel and that’s why these events are so successful.”

“The highlight to me is the number of organizations and businesses that come together in one event to make this a good tree lighting,” added Viviroto.

MaxIT Healthcare is the title sponsor for the event with Meyer Najem, Maple Park Village, DWA and the city of Westfield as tree sponsors. Poynter said there are still sponsor titles available and any businesses or individuals interested can contact DWA at 965-3334.

“Many wonderful partnerships and the community’s overall participation will make this another fantastic event for the city,” said Poynter. “The partnership with the Girls Scouts is a huge reason for the event becoming so successful. To get people there you need to get them involved.”

Girl Scouts will be caroling, building Gingerbread Houses and assisting where needed again this year. Some of the older girls will assist as elves at Santa’s House.

“I liked talking to people at the fire pits last year,” said Tori Viviro of Troop 931.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the creations of Gingerbread Houses,” added fellow Girl Scout Tiffany Adams. “I also can’t wait to see all of the little kids faces when they sit on Santa’s lap.”

Tiffany’s younger sisters, Nicole (a Brownie in Troop 1019) and Kaitlyn ( a Daisy in Troop 410), are also looking forward to being a part of the ceremony again this year. Both of the younger Adams girls said they enjoyed caroling on stage last year.

“I caroled with my troop and another one,” said Nicole.

“I liked decorating the Gingerbread Houses because it’s fun,” added Katilyn.

Beginning in the late afternoon, North Union will be closed just north of Penn Street to just south of Catherine Street to accommodate foot traffic safety and carriage rides. For more information, visit www.dwna.org/site/events/westfield-in-lights/.

 

What’s planned

Westfield in Lights will run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 30 in

■ Tree lighting by Westfield Mayor Andy Cook at 7 p.m.

■ Carriage rides with historic stops and presentations. (Cost is $5 per person with a $20 maximum per family)

■ Winter Market with 32 booths inside Christ United Methodist Church

■ Live nativity scene in Hadley Park by Westfield Friends Church

■ Gingerbread House competition by the JoSheWe Girl Scouts inside City Hall

■ Photos and wish list telling with Mr. and Mrs. Claus at the Santa House

■ Merchant Light Competition sponsored by the Westfield In Bloom Committee. Several downtown businesses will remain open for shoppers.

■ Local nonprofit organization sponsored planters on Main Street (Hwy 32)

■ Fire pits

■ Live reindeer

■ Food trucks

■ Carolers and dance performances