All three Downbeach towns celebrated the holiday season Friday with events that included tree and menorah lightings, festivities and gift-giving.
Ventnor started off the evening with a brief but meaningful lighting of the menorah on the second day of Hanukkah for a small group of residents who turned out for the event at City Hall.
Mayor Lance Landgraf was joined by Commissioners Tim Kriebel and Maria Mento, along with Chabad at the Shore Rabbi Avrohom Rapoport. Landgraf flipped the switch to light the candles on the electronic menorah on the Sacramento Avenue side of City Hall.
In Longport, a large crowd gathered in the park behind Borough Hall to see the St. Nicholas Aurora Carolers dressed in Victorian garb sing Christmas carols. Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived aboard the Longport Volunteer Fire Company’s ladder truck to light the holiday tree and menorah set up inside one of the bayfront gazebos. Hot chocolate was served to warm everyone up, although it was a pleasantly mild evening.
Afterward, the crowd proceeded to Council Chambers where students of the William H. Ross Elementary School performed readings of poems and sang Christmas carols. Their younger siblings lined up at the back of the room to give Santa their holiday wish list in hopes they are on his “nice” list.
Meanwhile, at the Sigmund Rimm athletic facility in Margate, hundreds of families entered the park from Huntington Avenue carrying bags filled with toys to stuff into one of three police cruisers.
The Winter Wonderland Toy Drive, now in its eight year, is sponsored by the Ventnor, Margate and Longport Police and Fire Departments to help children who may not have many gifts under their tree enjoy the holidays. The toys are distributed to children who need them by the Atlantic County Toys for Kids program. Supporting organizations include the Margate Business Association, Margate City Public Works and Recreation departments, Margate Education Foundation and Margate Mothers Association.
It was a festive affair with dozens of children expending all of their unspent energy in a snowball fight with foam snowballs. Dancers from Leslie’s Dance Studio performed several numbers during the evening delighting their parents and spectators. The night included costumed characters, train rides around the park, games, crafts, lots of food offerings and pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus.