Just over one month ago, the steps of Hoboken City Hall were a gathering place for thousands of residents without power after Hurricane Sandy slammed the city.
The scene Tuesday night was a very different kind of community gathering.
A large stage was set up in front of the steps and a brightly lit manger scene glowed at its left. Children pressed toward the edge of the stage for high fives from a large elf who was the evening's MC.
Mayor Dawn Zimmer welcomed the large crowd of families to the city's annual Christmas Tree Lighting. Her words were a reminder of what had taken place there.
"Tonight we think of those who really have suffered as a result of this storm," Zimmer said.
"We will rebuild Hoboken."
The show which featured performances by All Saints Episcopal Day School, members of the Hoboken High School Chorus, the Redwing Cheerleaders, and local Girl Scout troops who sang and danced to familiar songs of the holiday season.
Cassie Summer and her son Zach, 4, watched the spectacle with their neighbor Melissa Romo. They said the event was a welcome reprieve from the stress of Hurricane Sandy when the lobby and garage of their building flooded. But, they agreed they were the lucky ones.
"The nice thing was when we had no power, we ended up getting to know more of our neighbors," Romo said.
She said the storm forced them to slow down their busy lives.
The 2012 Grand Menorah Lighting will take place Sunday, December 9 at 5:30 p.m.