By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Debbie Brennan and her 4-year-old grandson, Breccan, looked up in wonder at the towering, colorfully decorated Christmas tree in Excursion Park that unmistakably signals the arrival of the holiday season in Sea Isle City.
“I love it,” Brennan, a Sea Isle resident, said with a smile. “I just think it’s so festive and will make people so happy.”
Breccan, a pint-sized boy with golden blond hair, touched the big Christmas balls hanging from the tree. They were much larger than his hands.
“They do look bright when you look at them because of the sun,” he said of the glittering decorations.
The holiday tree overlooks Excursion Park just steps from the ocean and serves as one of the centerpieces of the city’s lavish Christmas displays now going up around town to create a festive atmosphere.
“Sea Isle City always puts its best foot forward during the holidays, and this year’s seasonal decorations are once again an example of that. Without a doubt, the people of our community thoroughly enjoy celebrating Christmas, and there are plenty of events, activities and celebrations between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day to prove it,” city spokeswoman Katherine Custer said.
One of the highlights of the holiday season is Sea Isle’s grand celebration on Thanksgiving weekend, capped off by the annual Holiday Parade and Mayor Leonard Desiderio’s Tree Lighting Ceremony with Santa Claus on Nov. 25.
“The festive decorations that Mayor Desiderio ensures are in place each year are the proverbial icing on the Christmas cake. If you want to celebrate the holidays in style, Sea Isle City is definitely the place to do so,” Custer said.
Sea Isle’s professional decorating contractor, Rileighs Outdoor Decor, of Allentown, Pa., dresses up Excursion Park, City Hall, the downtown business district and other popular areas of town each year with elaborate holiday displays. The city’s Public Works Department also pitches in to help create the festive mood.
Jake Bjorbekk and Frank Capozzi, of Rileighs Outdoor Decor, were busy Friday afternoon draping large red bows and green garland on the Victorian-style lamp posts lining the downtown streets. Large wreaths adorned the Band Shell in Excursion Park.
Every year, the decorative lamp posts lining the John F. Kennedy Boulevard entryway are trimmed with garland and wreaths accented with red bows. Christmas lights and snowflakes sparkle along JFK Boulevard and the Landis Avenue corridor in the downtown business district.
The decorations are another way to make the business district more inviting to holiday shoppers. Twinkling lights add to the cheery atmosphere. The traditional holiday decorations create a bit of whimsy and nostalgia for residents and visitors alike.
“All of these ornaments just make you happy. I love it every year,” Brennan said while pointing out the decorations to her grandson.
Bjorbekk explained that Sea Isle is getting some new decorations this year to liven up the holiday displays even more.
They will include Santa’s sleigh, some carolers, characters from the Christmas classic the Nutcracker Suite and “all sorts of fun stuff,” Bjorbekk said.
Normally, toy soldiers resplendent in bright red uniforms and black top hats stand guard at the front entrance of City Hall for the holidays.
However, the toy soldiers “got a little old” and will be replaced at City Hall this year by characters from the Nutcracker Suite, Bjorbekk said.
Giant, multicolored Christmas ball ornaments will once again adorn the lawn at the Sea Isle City Welcome Center, signaling to everyone arriving on JFK Boulevard that this is a town that fancies the holidays. There will also be a new Santa’s sleigh as part of the decorations at the Welcome Center, Bjorbekk said.
The new decorations are scheduled to arrive early next week. Workers from Rileighs Outdoor Decor are expected to complete the holiday displays around town by the end of next week, Bjorbekk said.