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NYguy
November 28th, 2003, 04:26 PM
STAR LEDGER...

Lighting Newark with a N.Y. flair
An 86-foot-tall Norwegian spruce stands as centerpiece of city's holiday celebration

Thursday, November 27, 2003

BY BARRY CARTER

A week from today, Newark's Military Park will be transformed into its own version of Rockefeller Center with a festive marketplace, food vendors and top-level entertainment.

Preparations for "Newark City Lights," a holiday tree-lighting celebration, began yesterday when an 86-foot Norwegian spruce from Muncy, Pa., was put up in the center of the park.

"We're trying to promote this into a family event," said Danny Gale, coordinator of the event and executive director of Connection Newark. "Military Park is Newark's Rockefeller Center," he said.

Over the next several days, Gale said the tree, which is 12 feet taller than the one at Rockefeller Center, will be decorated with 20,000 lights in preparation for a Dec. 4 evening of outdoor entertainment. The event, hosted by comedian Joe Piscopo, will be from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the park and will feature performances by Newark native Savion Glover, a Tony-award-winning tap dancer/choreographer, and Stephanie Mills, a Grammy-award winner and R&B artist.

There also will be performances by the Newark Boys Chorus, St. Vincent Academy Glee Club, Brick City Dancers, Weequahic High School Marching Band and Gwen Moten, a noted vocalist who is the city's supervisor of cultural affairs.

More importantly, however, Gale said police will escort Santa Claus and some Newark schoolchildren will be riding in his sleigh.

When Santa reaches the stage, Gale said, a countdown will begin and the tree will be lit. Confetti will be sprayed in the air and a laser light show will pierce the night sky.

The holiday extravaganza, which is sponsored by Newark and its private sector, returns to the park for the first time since 2000. It hasn't been held since then, because of the World Trade Center attacks and the downturn in the economy, Gale said.

"This is the first year that the people are getting back into the spirit," he said. "This used to be the place people would come during the holiday season."

City historian Charles Cummings said Military Park, much like Broad and Market streets, has always been the center point of Newark since its founding in 1666.

"When the city was laid out, its parks were laid out as retreats, as resting places," Cummings said. "They were for the public good."

Cummings said the city celebrates the holidays -- Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa -- with passion and this year should be no different.

Arthur Stern, president and chief executive officer of Cogswell Realty Group, said Military Park is a vital part of Newark's downtown and the tree will be a holiday attraction that people can focus on.

"It's that time of year that these types of events bring people together," Stern said.

Jerome Enis, a consultant for the event, said Military Park will become a village and marketplace with food vendors and youths from the Newark Boys and Girls Clubs selling Christmas wreaths. And Montgomery Street School's students will sell decorations.

"This is the biggest show that we've had," he said. "I just don't know how they're going to keep it to two hours. We've got a bigger tree, bigger entertainment, bigger stars."

There also will be appearances from New Jersey Nets coach Byron Scott, Nets power forward Kenyon Martin and Ken Daneyko, a former defenseman for the New Jersey Devils.

Parking is free at Edison Park Fast, 10 W. Park St., on a first-come, first-served basis.

Gulcrapek
November 28th, 2003, 04:44 PM
I'd go but my parents have a phobia of Newark.

krulltime
November 28th, 2003, 05:07 PM
I'd go but my parents have a phobia of Newark.

Oh give me a break...you live in Brooklyn and your parents have a 'phobia' of Newark. Are they for real? :?

Gulcrapek
November 28th, 2003, 05:31 PM
I am, unfortunately. My mother has a hard time shaking off reputations.

TLOZ Link5
November 28th, 2003, 07:06 PM
I am, unfortunately. My mother has a hard time shaking off reputations.

Most people do, especially regarding New York.