Newton lights up to usher in the holiday season

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:17

    Newton - Over 50 people watched fireworks light up the sky and more than 35,000 Christmas lights get turned on, illuminating the driveway entrance to Newton Memorial Hospital Saturday at the 13th Annual Festival of Lights fund-raiser. "It's gotten bigger and better every year," said Festival Committee Chairman Doctor William Scarpa, Jr., referring to the light display which has become a holiday tradition in Sussex County. The event featured a new "illuminator sculpture series," which includes a lighted gingerbread house, ice skaters, and a toy shop as well as the highest donations ever, totaling $85,000. The proceeds from the event will go toward building a new, state-of-the-art heart center planned to open sometime in late 2005 to early 2006. The center, the first in Sussex County, will specialize in cardiac catheterization, a non-invasive surgery, and early detection procedure. When it opens, the center will help patients avoid travel to Morristown to have the procedure done, instead, hospital officials said, they will be able to have the catheterization done locally. For the Festival of Lights donors paid $30 for a string of lights or $200 to sponsor a tree. Larger, corporate sponsors donated the illuminator sculptures and Bell BMW of Newton sponsored the fireworks display. "We're strong in community involvement. This is festive and a good community builder," said Bell's Senior Client Advisor, Walter Scheibner. The festival is the brainchild of the late C. Edward McCracken, whose daughter, Jo-Ellen McCracken Hazan, attended the event. The Smith-McCracken Funeral Home and Wood Funeral Home sponsor the festival. "He came up with the idea ... to brighten the community," she said. "He would be so proud to see how it has grown. Everyone has been working so hard to make it more and more special every year, and it shows."