This Is Rutherford
Santa Visits Mortimer Ave
Updated: Dec 20, 2022
By Jennifer Ersalesi
Photo credits: Michael Attanasio
Two Rutherford residents decided to spread some holiday cheer to their neighbors by welcoming Santa, some of his elves, and other helpers to visit their home one December evening on Mortimer Ave. Families visited Santa and even gathered around the fire with him. This is Rutherford spoke with Michael Attanasio and his fiancee, Cheryl Astorita about the evening Santa visited their home and helped them share some Christmas joy.
TIR: What do you enjoy about living in Rutherford?
Cheryl Astorita: I love living in Rutherford because I think it's the most beautiful Northern NJ town full of historic homes. I often take walks and I'm mesmerized by the character of each home. I love walking to restaurants on Park Ave and being able to take the train into NYC. Most of all I love the small-town neighborhood where our kids go to school together from Kindergarten through twelfth grade and everyone seems to know each other.
TIR: Recently, you invited the community via Facebook to visit Santa and his elves in your driveway on Mortimer Ave. Why did you decide to set up this awesome Santa meet and greet for your neighbors in Rutherford?
CA: We had a Christmas vision of decorating the house like a gingerbread house and dressing up like Santa, Mrs. Claus, and elves to spread the Christmas spirit and kindness to everyone.
TIR: Did you have many visitors on the evening of Wednesday, December 14th?
CA: Many people drove down our street and stopped when they saw Santa on the front lawn. Kids were in shock when they saw Santa randomly at our house, and many kids came due to their parents reading the posts on Facebook community pages.
TIR: How did children (young and “older”) react to seeing Santa and his elf?
Michael Attanasio: It is amazing to see the reaction of children. Some were so comfortable coming up and talking to Santa, which makes sense because they all "know" Santa, right? Some were tentative at first, but I got down at their level and talked to them for a few minutes about what they wanted for Christmas and asked them if they were being "naughty or nice" and got the ball rolling. Each of them had a smile on their face and took pictures with us. One of my favorite parts was the way the adults reacted. Who doesn't love Santa? I saw the "inner child" come out more than a few times from moms and dads which was great too. TIR: Anything else you’d like to add? MA: I am so happy we were able to share the Spirit of Christmas. It took some time and effort on our part, but this is the season for giving, and we were happy to give to others and to model this kind of approach to Christmas for our children as well. Nick (Cheryl's son who is ten) and Cara (my daughter who is eleven) are so excited about Christmas, and they didn't hesitate to put on their elf outfits. They were adorable. My son Jack, a high school student, impressed me by getting involved too, and I told him at least now he has a Halloween costume ready for next year as Buddy the Elf! We hope this tradition can continue and will grow. Why go to a mall and wait in line forever to get a picture with Santa when you can stay in town and visit Santa and maybe make a few new friends in town?
Cheryl Astorita and Michael Attanasio are engaged and are getting married in July. Michael has two children, Jack (age 15) and Cara (age 11) and Cheryl has a son, Nicholas Malaspina (age 10).