UPDATE (2:30PM): New Brunswick Mayor James Cahill announced that the tree lighting ceremony will be cancelled due to a planned protest in the area.

“Monument Square has also been announced as the planned destination for a group protesting the recent grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Mo. and New York,” read a statement from the Mayor’s office released at 2:20pm.

“Given the threat of inclement weather further complicating tonight’s scheduled events and the logistical problems of large numbers of people attempting to occupy the same space but for different purposes, the tree lighting ceremony has been canceled.”

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—What better way to start off the holiday season than spending it with family, friends, and neighbors in downtown New Brunswick?

New Brunswick City Market is inviting all members of the community to join in celebration of the holidays beginning with tonight’s 22nd Annual Holiday Tree Lighting.

The annual tradition is taking place on Friday, December 5, from 5-7pm at Monument Square, at the corner of George Street and Livingston Avenue.

Activities consist of holiday music, live performances, a visit from santa, and the tree lighting.

The event is also featuring the Annual Hot Pot Chili Cook-off from 5-6:30 pm.  For a $2 donation, those in attendance can taste chili recipes from various local restaurants and vote for their favorite.

The cook-off supports Elijah’s Promise, a soup kitchen located in New Brunswick aimed at using the power of food to diminish poverty, relieve hunger, and change lives. 

On Sunday December 7, Coast to Coast Jewelers is hosting family and child photos taken with Santa, located at 342B George Street, from 11am-4pm.

Photos are free thanks to sponsors Affinity Federal Credit Union and New Brunswick Tomorrow.

Another activity offered is “Free-Horse Drawn Carriage Rides,” located at the Hyatt Regency on December 14, 20, and 21.

The event is taking place from 4- 7pm, where complimentary horse-drawn carriage rides are offered through downtown New Brunswick.

Participants are encouraged to bring non-perishable items to donate as a community food drive will take place during all events.