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Santa in Campbell to kick-start holiday

Correspondent photos / Sean Barron Lizzelle Foster, 3, of Campbell, enjoys quality time with St. Nick, who visited the third annual Christmas celebration at Roosevelt Park in Campbell.

CAMPBELL — Several years ago, Elizabeth Foster and her family moved from their home in Edison, New Jersey, to Campbell, in part because of the close-knit and quieter, serene sense of community.

Part of Foster’s Sunday, however, was anything but quiet, but she offered no objections.

“I’ve been coming to this event since we moved here,” Foster said, referring to the fun-filled Christmas gathering and tree-lighting ceremony, which was Sunday afternoon in and next to the Roosevelt Park Community Center.

Hundreds of children and adults came to the festive, family-friendly and holiday-themed gathering, in its third year, to officially usher in the holiday season in the city of nearly 8,000.

Foster, who cleans commercial office buildings, recalled that her father grew up in nearby Sharpsville, Pa., and that living in Campbell offers her and the family everything they need, including a greater sense of safety.

“It’s nice because of family time and you get to see everybody and do stuff,” Foster said about one of the joys she felt from being at Sunday’s community Christmas event.

A primary source of excitement for many of the children was the arrival of Santa Claus, who made his initial appearance on a wagon that was part of a police and firefighter escort. From there, St. Nick wasted little time setting up shop in the community center, where he was on hand to greet dozens of young people and their parents who formed a long line for the occasion.

Beforehand, Russ Maddick, 54, of Campbell, officially lit the 10-foot Christmas tree in a nearby gazebo. The special occasion was a first for Maddick, who also is part of the Purple Cat, a day program for adults with various challenges.

“It felt good,” said Maddick, whose great-grandfather, Joseph Julius, served as Campbell’s solicitor and mayor in the 1940s.

Also at the event was Maddick’s sister, Elan Maddick-Bacharach, who expressed gratitude that her brother had been selected for the tree-lighting honor.

“It’s a wonderful gesture for the community,” she added. “My best wishes go out for everyone, and good health to all.”

Echoing that sentiment was Steve Cappitte, D-2nd Ward.

“It’s all about the kids and bringing the community together. We plan to continue the tradition and do what we can for the kids,” said Cappitte, who was busy keeping numerous boxes of pizza warm in the community center’s oven.

Sunday’s gathering also featured a gift raffle, along with various activities for children. In addition, a disc jockey entertained attendees by playing well-known Christmas tunes, such as the Chuck Berry tune, “Run Rudolph Run,” along with other popular favorites that included “Frosty the Snowman.”

Nevertheless, Sunday’s weather was much more balmy than frosty, with mostly cloudy conditions and temperatures in the low 50s.

Mayor Bryan Tedesco thanked St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Church for providing the gifts for children at the gathering, along with a 10-member committee that brought the food, baskets and bags for the presents, and handled many of the decorations.

“It’s getting better and better every year,” Tedesco said.

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