Miracle on Main: Harrison Township to provide festive backdrop for holiday activities

In order to be safe during the pandemic, smaller gatherings offered in lieu of traditional Lights on Main event

Do you believe in miracles?

Harrison Township does, and it’s hoping to bring a new holiday miracle to its residents come Thanksgiving weekend.

Miracle on Main is a three-day celebration from Friday evening, Nov. 27, through Sunday evening, Nov. 29, that provides a festive backdrop to numerous micro-events taking place along Main Street. It is being held in lieu of the traditional and highly attended Lights on Main.

“I would say our goal is to give our residents the opportunity to go to Main Street, to feel the joy of the season while still maintaining all of our COVID-19 protocols,” said Committeewoman Julie DeLaurentis, liaison to the Harrison Township Recreation Commission.

Miracle on Main is a partnership between a myriad of people, including members of the township committee, recreation commission and business association, as well as business owners. When it became evident during the summer that hosting Lights on Main – which draws 8,000 to 10,000 people – would not be possible amidst the pandemic, the brainstorming began.

“We love Lights on Main. Our township loves it. It’s our yearly event,” DeLaurentis said. “Since mid-summer, we’ve been working on a plan to transform Main Street for the holiday season.”

That transformation includes lights – so many lights – twinkling along Main Street, turning the scene into a Christmas village of sorts, according to Mayor Louis Manzo.

“The idea is to create this backdrop of atmosphere,” he explained. “All the lights. All the aesthetics.”

In addition to just strolling the street and taking in the decor, visitors can take advantage of a variety of special activities hosted by area businesses and groups. While an official schedule is not planned to help avoid large gatherings exceeding state regulations, events will be advertised on individual business social-media pages and by word of mouth.

The township is sponsoring mini-destinations, too, such as taking a socially distanced selfie with Santa and Mrs. Claus in front of Friends School Mullica Hill.

There will be more photo opps, including a mistletoe setup at the Main Event Barbershop, as well as an outdoor Candy Corner and Christmas in Paris set-up. Carolers will sing their songs – from a safe distance, of course – and elves and princesses will be about, too.

DeLaurentis said business owners have embraced the idea. Nancy Kowalik Real Estate Group will bring its Elf on the Shelf, Snowflake, to life for the weekend. Cherry On Top Ice Cream Shoppe plans gingerbread cookie decorating. Mullica Hill Arts Center will have ornament making. An outdoor Christmas movie is planned, too.

Events are spread throughout the weekend to avoid large crowds, and of course, all plans are a bit fluid.

“We don’t want a large crowd at any point in time because of COVID,” DeLaurentis said. “I think it will be a lot of fun for people. They can pick their own time. It’s not a weather-dependent event.”

Miracle on Main is a perfect time to check off a holiday gift-giving list, too, with stores open late during the celebration. Restaurants, of course, will serve up their  fare, both on site and along Main Street.

“We feel this is really what our community – any community – needs right now. This feeling of some sense of normalcy, especially connected with the holidays,” Manzo said. “And it’s going to be safe and we’re not going to be violating any executive orders.”

According to DeLaurentis, the excitement has been growing to the point that business owners are planning to use Miracle on Main as a jump start to activities throughout the holiday season. The committeewoman added that the township will be there along the way to help support and publicize.

“They’re seeing the value to this,” Manzo said of the business community. “This forced-upon-us transformation is actually going to be a better opportunity for people to be up and down the street with no limitations, with nooks and crannies of opportunities to stop into our shops, more than we maybe ever had.”

To learn more about Miracle on Main, visit www.harrisontwp.us.