The addition of fireworks, a dance flash mob and the word spreading around town attracted the biggest crowd ever to Warren Township's free 6th Annual Yuletide Bonfire and Fireworks Winter Festival on Saturday night, which Recreation Director Eleanora Hermann estimated was attended by about 1,500 area residents.
The evidence was confirmed in this year's consumption of hot chocolate. "We went through 65 gallons of hot chocolate," Hermann said.
Last year, when about a thousand people dropped by at some point for the growing community event, about 10 gallons less of hot chocolate lasted until the end of the evening, Hermann noted.
This January — even with more hot chocolate funded by the local Lions Club, with Starbucks donating 10 gallons of coffee, and Ciro's Pizza of Warren providing containers for warm drinks — the free drinks ran out by the end of the night, she said.
Each year, she said, the recreation department, including herself and Linda Palumbo, try to add onto what is Warren Township's largest winter event.
This year's debut fireworks by Garden State Fireworks got off about 15 minutes late, but seemed to be appreciated by the crowd, said Hermann, adding she has been receiving many positive emails this weeks.
Take Flight Dance Center of Millington also coordinated a surprise flash dance in the middle of the evening, captured on video.
Next year, she said that she hopes to possibly provide more warming tents at the location of the festival behind the municipal building at 46 Mountain Blvd.
Hermann said the event relied on sponsors and more than 140 volunteers to make the event happen.
She said she wanted to offer special thanks to the Warren Blue Ridge Sportsmen's Club for donating, setting up, and afterwards removing all the tents, heaters, generators and lights. "I know without them we couldn't do this!" she said.
Dave Darge, from the township engineering, helped create a map and print out most of the event signs, she added.
The Warren Township Committee and Recreation Department also offered thanks to partners in the event, along with many other contributors and volunteers:
The Learning Experience
Warren Blue Ridge Sportsmen's Club
Warren Lions Club
Andersen Arbor Care
Knights of Columbus
Take Flight Dance Center
The Connection Magazine
The Showcase Magazine
Watchung Hills Elks Lodge
American Heart Assoc.
Comfort Zone Camp
Department of Public Works
Garden State Fireworks
Girl Scout Troop # 67719, 606
Cub Scout Troop 228
Jr. Warriors Hockey Club
Somerset Equity Investors, Inc
Stonecrest Comm Church
Wagner Farm Arboretum
Warren Central School
Warren Fire Departments
Warren Police Department
Warren Rescue Squad
WH Pop Warner Football
Watchung Hills Soccer
Watchung/Warren Rotary Club
Dave Darge, Engineering Dept.
All our dedicated volunteers
Tell us what you liked about the annual bonfire and fireworks