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HAMMONTON - Downtown Hammonton got a little brighter Saturday night as the town celebrated the lighting of its Christmas tree.

“It’s a wonderful, special night. There is nothing better to bring people together for a fun, festive night,” said Cassie Iacovelli, executive director of MainStreet Hammonton.

Before the lighting of the tree, there was a special show where various performers and choirs entertained the crowd with Christmas dances and carols. Some of the choirs that came out to perform included St. Joseph High School Choir and Hammonton Community Choir.

“It is my favorite event of the season,” said Dawn Baldwin, owner of Dance Magic and one of the coordinators of the Christmas show. Some of Baldwin’s dancers also performed a routine during the show, which is part of a larger performance the studio will be holding later this month.

After the show, Santa Claus arrived by fire truck to light the Christmas tree. With a little help from the crowd, he counted down and with a wave of his candy cane lit the Christmas tree.

Once Santa was finished lighting the Christmas tree, he headed into Wells Fargo Bank to visit with children and get their Christmas lists.

Heather Malloy brought her 4-month-old daughter, Mackenzie, to see Santa for the first time. “I am looking forward to seeing all the lights with her, she gets really excited over them,” said Malloy about what she was most excited about for Mackenzie’s first Christmas.

There were many more things happening around town as well. One of those included carriage rides.

“We love it,” said Ben Mills, owner of New Freedom Horse Drawn Carriage, when asked if he enjoys giving carriage rides.

Sarah Griffiths was very excited about the carriage rides as she rides horses. “We are going to be the first ones,” she said.

The carriage rides took riders past churches, the Veterans Memorial Park and ended in front of St. Joseph High School where Victory Bible Church put on live Nativity shows throughout the night.

The Hammonton Historical Society held an open house for people to come explore the history of the town while they enjoyed the Christmas atmosphere. Outside the historical society, the Hammonton Towne Drama Club performed a play called “Christmas in the Courtroom.” The group will be performing High School Musical as their main event of 2017.

Hammonton will continue with the Christmas spirit during this month on Third Thursday, which will be held on Dec. 15 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

For more information on New Freedom Horse Drawn Carriage, please visit www.njhorsedrawncarriages.com. For more information on the Hammonton Towne Drama Club, please visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/HammontonTowneDrama/.

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