It’s not just a flip of the switch to light up Toms River Christmas Tree, but a whole event that for the first time this year will also help kick off a holiday festival downtown.
The annual tree-lighting event will take place at 5 p.m. Friday Dec. 3. at Toms River Town Hall, 33 Washington Street. Live entertainment begins at 5 p.m. and Santa arrives on the fire truck at 7 p.m. to light the tree. Photos with Santa will follow the tree lighting. Hot Chocolate & cookies will be for sale to benefit Volunteer Toms River Fire Co. #1. Downtown restaurants and businesses will be open. No pets are permitted at the tree lighting.
The performances scheduled as part of the tree lighting: Donovan Catholic Chorus, Applaud Our Kids, Exit 82 Theater, Toms River High School South Choir, and finishing up with a reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” before Santa arrives.
That itinerary is similar to previous years, but all weekend thereafter the downtown will host a Winter Wonderland festival. Saturday, Dec. 4 and Sunday, Dec. 5 the courtyard at Town Hall will be transformed into a winter village with craft vendors, kids activities, holiday music and more. Free admission to the event. No pets are permitted in the winter village.
Each day, the event will take place from 1 to 7 p.m. Kid’s activities include a S’mores station, Letters to Santa, Dreidel craft, and reindeer food. Face painting and balloon artist are scheduled. Hot chocolate, kettle corn, food trucks are also planned. Downtown businesses will be open.
The downtown Business Improvement District has been promoting the Winter Wonderland and winter village, but a Candy Cane Scavenger Hunt is also scheduled. Patrons can hunt throughout the downtown business from Dec. 4 to 20 to find hidden candy canes. Visit downtowntomsriver.com for more details.
Additionally, on Sunday Dec. 5, the Jingle Bells Run will return for a charitable 5k and 1 mile race. This year’s is the 22nd Jingle Bells Run. Hosted by the Toms River Police Foundation, the proceeds from the run registrations will benefit the foundation, which has named A Need We Feed as this year’s spotlight charity. The kiddie dash takes off first, at 2:45 p.m., followed by the 1-mile fun run. The 5k steps off at 3:30 p.m.
The courses are relatively flat street terrain of downtown Toms River. Only online registration is available for the event, for more information, to register or donate, visit the Toms River Police Foundation’s website.
For a complete listing of events downtown, visit the TRBID’s website.