A night of songs, Santa

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Absecon promotes its downtown with caroling and a special visitor

ABSECON – City leaders hope to recreate a scene from years gone by next week when they host an old-fashioned holiday gathering in the heart of downtown.

Holiday revelers both young and old may share in all the fun of the winter season beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14 at the MayorPeterJ.ElcoClockPlaza on New Jersey Avenue. 

The evening’s fun includes Christmas caroling, a chance to win gift baskets, light refreshments and a visit by Santa Claus, according to event co-chairperson and Absecon first lady JoAnn Elco.

Absecon resident Bill Hock of Mainland Baptist Church and his singers will lend their voices to the occasion. They will be joined in their performance by about 20 students from the H. Ashton Marsh School along with guest singer Robin McCullough.

“They will sing the songs everybody knows, everybody’s favorites,” said Elco, a member the Absecon Business and Commercial Development Inc., a co-sponsor.

Elco said the group has arranged for a magician to showcase his skills of deception, and a children’s snowflake contest.

To participate, children will pull artificial snowflakes out of a container.

“The one with a star wins a gift certificate from McDonald’s,” Elco said.

But the fun doesn’t stop there.

Anyone who brings two cans of food to the gathering for the area food bank will automatically be entered into a drawing to win one of two gift baskets.

“We went up and down the street today, and the businesses really supported it,” Elco said. Nancy Westcoat, who represents Ocean City Bank, ventured up and down New Jersey Avenue with Elco to encourage businesses to offer gift certificates as prizes.

Each basket could contain nearly $100 in gift certificates to Absecon downtown businesses, Elco estimated.

Absecon Historian Elaine Risley and the Absecon Historic Society will be the host for light refreshments during the evening, Elco said.

The holiday gathering will be led by emcee Caleb Cavileer, a member of the Absecon Community Affairs Committee, the event’s other co-sponsor. Cavileer is also an event co-chairman.

The Community Affairs Committee is chaired by City Councilwoman Kim Horton, who made the arrangements for the Marsh school students to perform. Other members include Aileen Dey, who coordinated the snowflake contest. Fellow member Donna Poley and her husband, Dan, are creating wooden presents that will be placed under the Christmas tree in the Clock Plaza.

“They have been doing this for a number of years,” Elco said. “We want to help promote downtown to show off our local merchants and offer a good time for our residents.”

Absecon residents are fortunate to have an area reminiscent of old-time downtowns, she said.

“We are unique in that we have a small downtown,” Elco said. “It has that small-town flavor that everybody likes.”

She said all of the downtown businesses will honor the occasion by staying open an hour later on the night of the holiday gathering.

“Everybody will have a chance to walk up and down New Jersey Avenue and see what’s new,” Elco said.

Special thanks go to Stan Weiner of Hometown Variety and Ryan Hughs of Friendly Deli for their work in decorating the ClockPlaza, she noted.

“I know Stan said he put up 32 strings of lights,” she said. “It will be very bright.”

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