Festival of Lights brightens the mood for the holidays

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:55

    NEWTON — The C. Edward McCracken Festival of Lights on Nov. 19 will mark 20 years of brightening the campus of Newton Medical Center and lifting the spirits of patients and visitors during the holiday season. The festival has become an annual tradition for families from throughout Sussex County, who come together at the hospital to enjoy an evening of children’s events and caroling, culminating with the annual lighting of trees along the hospital’s southern driveway by the McCracken family, and a spectacular fireworks show. The trees are decorated by strings of lights purchased by supporters of the hospital and donated in honor of loved ones. Donors may also sponsor the evergreen trees, wreathes, and other elements of the event. Proceeds from the event benefit Newton Medical Center. The Festival of Lights event will begin at 4:30 p.m. with children’s crafts and games, including a chance to meet Santa, Rudolph and Frosty, followed by a community reception at 5:30 p.m., and culminating with the tree lighting and fireworks display at 6:30 p.m. On this, the 20th anniversary of the Festival of Lights, Newton Medical Center Foundation takes special notice of Ed’s contributions as a Foundation Trustee and the McCracken Family’s 20-year legacy of continued dedication and support. C. Edward McCracken, a member of the Sussex County business community and supporter of Newton Medical Center, began the Festival of Lights two decades ago with the simple, humble desire to brighten the hospital campus for patients and visitors during the holiday season. The event caught on and grew each year, including the addition of the fireworks show in the fifth year of the event, which by then had become a community tradition. After McCracken’s passing the following year, the tradition was carried on by his wife, Shirley, and children, James and Robert McCracken and Jo-Ellen McCracken Hazan, and the Newton Medical Center Foundation. “It’s been the kickoff of the holidays for us, and, I think, for many people,” said James McCracken, one of Edward McCracken’s three children. “It has also been a day to remember our father.” “Our father was very passionate about doing what he was able to, to make someone else’s life, especially those who find themselves in the hospital during the holidays, a little brighter,” said daughter Jo-Ellen McCracken Hazan. “Those were values that our father and mother instilled in us growing up.” “Looking back on these past 20 years, I think it would have been hard to imagine not only how the event has been celebrated each year but continues to grow,” said Robert McCracken, Chair of NMC Advisory Board. Sponsorships for these and other categories are still available. To enter the raffle, purchase a string of lights or for more information, call 973-579-8309 or visit http://www.nmhnj.org/Events.aspx.