The holiday decorations at the Camuso home on Burnett Hill Road have been a local attraction for many years, brightening the holiday season with an extensive display. When Ernie Camuso passed away recently, his family donated the decorations to the community, so his holiday vision could live on.
The question of what to do with the decorations was answered by the newly formed Camuso Holiday Decorations Committee, consisting of some 20 local residents, and the BID (Livingston’s Business Improvement District). Councilman Steve Santola, committee co-chair, said Monday night, “On Dec. 3, 2011 the Camuso Holiday Display makes its return to Livingston as part of Livingston’s first-ever Winter Festival.” The Camuso display will be one of a number of events at the Gazebo area of the Oval across from t, beginning Dec. 3 and running through Jan. 2, 2012.
The opening on Dec. 3rd will include a live performance by the Livingston High School chorus, horse drawn carriage rides sponsored by the Livingston Area Chamber of Commerce, and a “throw the switch” ceremony to begin the holiday season. Thereafter, the display will be open every night through New Years. The Winter Festival will include various special events including an evening with the Livingston AARP Chapter Chorus, performances by local youth groups and the annual UNICO sponsored Evening with Santa.
The Camuso Holiday Decorations Committee raised more than $12,000 from local residents and businesses. Fund-raising Chairman Gina Goldman said, “Every dollar raised will go toward the preservation of the display and funding of the Winter Festival; we have been amazed at the generosity the community has shown when it comes to this local treasure.”
Santola advised, “The committee’s mission for the display is to build community pride and spirit and to promote local retailers and restaurants.” “While we are very appreciative of the assistance provided by the township while the Committee got its bearings, beginning in January the committee will become an independent conservancy operating in partnership with the Business Improvement District and local volunteers.” “In this age of austerity, the Committee believes it is important to run the Winter Festival and erect the Camuso Display with as little public assistance as possible,” commented Santola.
Beth Lippman, the Executive Director of the Livingston Business Improvement District (BID) noted, “The BID is pleased to be a big part of restoring Livingston history. I think most families in town, and in the state for that matter, made at least one trip to the Camuso home on Burnett Hill Road. Beginning this year, we welcome all of those visitors back and encourage them to shop and dine in Livingston as part the experience.”
Co-Chair and former Mayor Ellie Cohen reported in order to locate the collection on town property and comply with federal law, the Camuso’s have donated all overtly religious objects such as the crèche (nativity scene) and the crucifix to a local church.