SOUTH AMBOY — Residents got a guided tour of the city and a look at some of the best local Christmas light displays during the city’s annual holiday trolley tour on Dec. 18.
This was the fifth year for the trolley tour, an event the city holds in partnership with the South Amboy Historical Society.
Mayor Fred Henry said when the event started, he had no idea it would become so popular.
“It gives people some time to enjoy the season in a different fashion and to visit some parts of the city that they seldom see,” he said, adding that it’s also an opportunity for newer residents “to learn a little bit more about the history of different parts of the city.”
He said longtime residents, meanwhile, enjoy remembering places in South Amboy that used to exist.
A mix of those residents gathered outside City Hall chatting with their neighbors, waiting for their assigned trolley time; the trolley ran every hour throughout the evening.
At 8:30 p.m., the last group boarded, each taking a slip of paper that indicated the houses at which the trolley would be stopping. Those homes are part of the city’s house decorating contest, and trolley riders are asked to vote for their three favorites.
Once on the trolley, participants heard a lot about South Amboy’s history from Joe Szaro of the historical society. Szaro’s presentation was interactive, as he covered everything from the date South Amboy was incorporated to how large the city once was and how various sections of the city got their respective names.
Early on, Szaro asked the crowd how South Amboy itself got its name. Collectively, the crowd agreed it was south … of something.
“South of what?” Szaro asked.
“South America!” one little girl cried out, followed by some good-natured laughter. Szaro pointed out it was actually named for its position south of Perth Amboy.
The trolley stopped at nearly a dozen homes, including those on Charmello, George and Pupek streets. Light displays ranged from the traditional with lights and wreaths, to the comical, with one featuring the famed lamp from the movie “A Christmas Story,” to the innovative, with another projecting the movie “Elf” on a screen outside the house.
At various stops, riders would shout, “That’s my house!” or “Wow, look at that!” At some homes, the residents came outside to greet those on the trolley. In between stops, a few riders broke out into a rendition of “Jingle Bells.”
Less than an hour later, they were back where they began, at City Hall, to submit their voting sheets.
“I feel this year’s event was a success,” said the mayor, who thanked all the city workers who assisted in this year’s effort. “We have a beautiful city, and many residents go to great pains to decorate their houses, some for the best decorated house contest and some just for the love of the season.
“All in all it makes you feel good about the community in which we live and prepare for Christmas,” Henry said.