TubaXmasAbove, Tuba Christmas toots exclusively at Middletown Arts Center on  the evening of December 7 — while below, Santa (seen in a past appearance at Red Bank’s West Side Tree Lighting ceremony) will be making the scene all over the Green in weeks to come.

Santa LindnerThe first official sightings are expected to start filtering in tonight, when the Santa Express rolls out of station stop Little Silver on its way to Red Bank — but even if you miss Santa and Mrs. Claus at the annual Holiday Express Concert and Town Lighting ceremony, there are numerous other opportunities for an audience with The Big Red One in and around the greater Green, beginning as early as Saturday afternoon, November 29.

Parking himself at The Galleria every weekend from now through the holiday shopping season, Kris Kringle will host Pictures With Santa between the hours of noon and 4 pm, Saturdays and Sundays through December 21. Co-sponsored by TSS Photography, the favorite feature offers picture packages for purchase — in addition to a special bonus session on Thursday, December 11, during Red Bank’s townwide Holiday Open House event. Before picture time, he’ll be hosting a series of Breakfast With Santa events at the Galleria building’s Danish Café, between 9 and 11:45 am on the mornings of December 6, 13, 20 and 21.

This Saturday will also find Santa present and accounted for in Shrewsbury, where the borough hosts its annual Tree Lighting ceremony at the gazebo outside Borough Hall (419 Sycamore Avenue), beginning at 4 pm. The guest of honor returns on the morning of Sunday, December 7, for a Pancake Breakfast with Santa hosted by the Shrewsbury Hose Company (783 Broad Street) and Ladies Auxiliary. The flapjacks start flapping at 9 am, with admission $7 (kids under 2 free) and photo ops plus ornaments available for an additional donation.

In the meantime of course, Santa will be making the rounds of many more local tree lightings, with details right around the corner.

Fair Haven kicks things off at 5 pm on Friday, December 5, with the arrival of Santa Claus by fire truck at Memorial Park (across River Road from Borough Hall). It’s followed at 6 pm by the turn-on of the official tree, accented by the return of a promotion that made its debut last year — a Holiday Stroll 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” until 7:30 pm.

Also on December 5, Sea Bright lights its tree downtown, with caroling in front of the Ocean Avenue firehouse beginning at 7 pm — plus hot beverages, cookies, and a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus inside the nearby United Methodist Church.

Then on Saturday, December 6 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.

At 4 pm on Sunday, December 7, Little Silver plugs in for the Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony, outside Borough Hall (480 Prospect Avenue).

December 7 also sees Rumson light up the tree in Victory Park, with a 5 pm ceremony that once again features music by Tim McLoone and the Shirleys, joined by “select members of Holiday Express,” as well as by the Tower Singers of Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, and the Deane-Porter Third Grade Chorus.

Santa — who’s starting to really enjoy traveling by fire truck — makes the scene on December 7 at station stop Middletown, where the sixth annual Tree Lighting and Holiday Extravaganza festivities commence inside and outside the Middletown Arts Center (adjacent to the train station on 36 Church Street). Featured along with the Santa photo ops are caroling and tree lighting ceremony, a winter art exhibit in the MAC gallery, holiday crafts for the kids, and a Christmas Variety show starring dancers from Miss Deena’s Dance. It all commences at 5 pm, and it represents the local manifestation of TubaChristmas, in which tuba and euphonium players of all ages and skill levels are invited to participate in a unique Yuletide observance that’s both hyper-local and gloriously global. There’s still time to toot your horn in the Middletown event; call Joseph Lawlor at (732)787-4067 for details.

Of course, the Jolly Old Elf has the delightful habit of being just about everywhere at once this time of year; witness December 6, when in addition to all of the above he’ll be on premises between 9:30 am and 2:30 pm for the annual Christmas Bazaar at The Presbyterian Church at Shrewsbury — even as he stops in at the Holiday Shopping Extravaganza hosted from 10 to 3 at Bayshore Middle School in the Leonardo section of Middletown.

Keeping it in Leonardo, Saint Nick makes an appearance at the Community Fire Company Station 4 Craft and Vendor Show on Sunday, December 7 from 11 am to 3 pm. And finally — not to be outdone in the photo ops department — the four-legged family members get their turn, when K9 Resorts Pet Hotel and Doggie Daycare in Middletown hosts a Pet Photos with Santa session on the afternoon of Saturday, December 13.

Got an additional inkling as to where Santa and/or Mrs. Claus will be appearing next in the weeks to come? Contact