sb-train-4-120512Tree lightings, such as the annual ceremony in Sea Bright, bring light therapy to the Green this weekend. Below, an archived favorite shot from the 2008 Westside tree lighting in Red Bank.

westside-tree-2008Tree lightings! We’ve got ’em, and in such quantities this weekend that you’d think they grew on trees.

Fair Haven kicks things off Friday evening with something old-school traditional — the 5:30 pm arrival of Santa Claus by firetruck, at Memorial Park (across River Road from Borough Hall), followed at 6 pm by the turn-on of the official tree, accompanied by live music from The Band of the Two Rivers. There’s also something new — a Holiday Stroll promotion in which “stores and businesses will be offering shopping, free food and beverages, attractions, and fun for kids throughout the River Road East business district” between the hours of 5 pm and 7:30.

At 7 pm, Sea Bright lights its tree downtown, with caroling in front of the Ocean Avenue firehouse, plus hot beverages and the always-welcome visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Then on Saturday at 4 pm, Red Bank Parks and Recreation, the West Side Community Group, and the borough-based nonprofit Lunch Break present the annual West Side Tree Lighting ceremony (at the “pocket park” corner of Shrewsbury Avenue and Drs. James Parker Boulevard). Santa and spouse will be making the scene here as well, and there will be hot cocoa, snacks, and carols performed by the students of The West Side Christian Academy.

Veteran Middletowners remember when the township’s official “tree” was a rather stark affair — more of a Festivus Pole, really, rigged with strands of lights in the suggested shape of a conical evergreen. These days, however, the Middletown Tree Lighting is part of an honest-to-goodness Holiday Extravaganza, the fifth annual edition of which returns Sunday to the Middletown Arts Center, adjacent to the train station on 36 Church Street, with acts from the MAC’s recent Winter Wonderland Variety Show, plus Santa photo ops, raffles, refreshments, carols — and of course, the exclusive New Jersey manifestation of TubaChristmas, all commencing at 5 pm.

Also on Sunday, Rumson lights up the trad tree in Victory Park, with a 5 pm ceremony that once again features music by Tim McLoone and the Shirleys, joined by the Tower Singers of Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, and the Deane-Porter Third Grade Chorus.