North Bergen recently celebrated Winterfest, the premiere event of the year to hit Hudson County for the holiday season.
The jam-packed crowd braved the cold for the annual festivities that spanned Bergenline Avenue between 76th and 85th Streets.
There were rides, games, food, music, giveaways, face painting, photos with Santa and more.
The best part about it for one woman was just being there.
“Everybody united, kids, happy, singing, enjoying the moment,” the North Bergen resident says.
According to Chief Robert Dowd, more than a hundred officers donated their time to patrol the event.
“I’m very proud of that tradition we have at North Bergen Police where this time of year we come out and do a little community service, just keep it safe for everyone so the kids can enjoy themselves,” Dowd says, adding that the town really benefits because the money they save from the overtime allows them to provide different amenities.
When it comes to security for something of this scale, Dowd says it’s a very big undertaking that requires months of preparation, including a risk analysis.
“We work with the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office and also the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the FBI, we do social media monitoring, we sweep the entire boulevard with canines from the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office,” he says.
In today’s day and age you can never be too safe.
“By the time the event kicks off everyone sees smiling men and women in uniform,” Dowd says. “This is my 25th Winterfest — we love it and we’re having a great season.”
Housing Director, Gerald Sanzari says he has also attended more than 20 Winterfests.
“They’re been some much colder than this, some where we didn’t even have to wear a jacket, so it’s a strange time of year. But they’re always great and I don’t know any other community that could have a turnout like this.”
Sanzari attributes it to great planning.
“And a lot of attractions,” he says. “The town over the years started out with just one or two — and it built up and built up. Now you have so many attractions, a petting zoo and many things for the kids.”
A member of the North Bergen Marching Band was having a blast with her friends.
“I’ve been coming here since I was eight, so it’s really nice and I love it so much guys,” the student says. “Merry Christmas!”