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Throwback Thursday: Harrison Fest Santa Claus Holiday Gift Event

Aug 10, 2023
Group Shot Volunteers Harrison Fest 2021 Harrison NJ

In the year that has tested humanity's resolve more than any other in recent history, the volunteers of the non-profit Harrison Fest led by the compassionate vision of former Harrison Councilman Anselmo Millan,  proved that joy, community spirit, and determination can overcome even the bleakest circumstances.

As the President of Harrison Fest Inc, Anselmo Millan’s thoughts turned to the children of Harrison, as well as the joy and expectations they associate with the annual Harrison Fest Holiday Party. The year 2021 was particularly challenging due to the rising number of positive COVID cases. As of December 19, 2021 the situation was such that an indoor gathering was completely off the table.

It would have been simple to announce a cancellation, to give in to the challenges posed by the pandemic. But the memory of a very successful outdoor Turkey Drive in November (2021) led Millan to believe that the magic of the holiday season could still be preserved. If they could organize a turkey drive outside, why not a Santa Claus Holiday Gift party? And so the decision was made: the event would go on, but it would be outdoors.

Safety First

The Harrison Fest volunteers were committed to making this event a success without compromising on safety. Alongside the decision to hold the event outdoors, a further precaution was implemented: everyone was required to wear a mask. Should any attendee arrive without one, masks were readily provided. This dedication to both festivity and responsibility is a testament to the strength and character of the Harrison Fest volunteers and the community.

A Day of Joy

The event was held in the Driveway and Backyard of Anselmo Millan’s house on Warren Street in Harrison, NJ,  and it turned out to be a day to remember. Despite the cold weather and brisk wind, the warmth of the community spirit made it a wonderful day for all involved. A remarkable 500 gifts were handed out by Santa. The patience and cooperation of the large crowd ensured that every child was able to receive a gift and enjoy treats like hot cocoa, popcorn, chips, danishes, and donuts to go.

The joy of the children was palpable and contagious. The faces of the kids lit up with excitement and happiness, were a stark reminder of why these efforts were worth all the trouble.

Gratitude to Sponsors and Volunteers

None of this would have been possible without the generous support of sponsors and the tireless efforts of volunteers. In a time when despair could have easily prevailed, these individuals and organizations showed that kindness, unity, and community can thrive.

The Harrison Fest Santa Claus Holiday Gift Event was more than a party; it was a symbol of resilience, a beacon of hope, and a demonstration of what a community can achieve when it comes together. Anselmo Millan expressed a heartfelt thank you to everyone involved, for embodying the true spirit of the holiday season, and for giving the children of Harrison a day filled with joy and magic. In the face of adversity, the volunteers of Harrison Fest shone brightly, a festive light in a difficult winter with Covid 19 still lingering in the community.

Additional photographs and information is available on the Harrison Fest Website

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