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A Mother's Memory Shines Bright Through 35-Foot Christmas Tree in Shongum

Chris Manderioli

Saturday, December 21, 2013 • 11:50pm

RANDOLPH, NJ- On the same night that Rockefeller Center lit their famous Christmas tree, another tree that is slightly smaller, but in one family’s hearts much larger, was lit here in Randolph.  On Dec.4, the Crisafulli tree located at 8 Timber Lane, had its first annual lighting ceremony.  The family wanted a tree that would shine bright and stand out among the rest, bringing them warm feelings of a mother’s memory.

Natalie Crisafulli (maiden name Fugaro), a mom and Randolph resident, grew up in Milltown, NJ. In 1976 her family decided to plant their own permanent Christmas tree in the front yard of their home. Natalie grew up with what then became an annual tradition to decorate the tree with 1,200 lights, and light it on the same night that Rockefeller Center in NYC had its tree lighting ceremony.

However, in 1994, the tree became too tall for the Fugaros to fully decorate.  The family asked men decorating the local shopping center if they could come to their home and put the star on top of the tree. Chad Arnold of Pennsylvania, agreed to help and came by to set the star at the top of the tree. It then became an annual tradition for Arnold to show up every year thereafter and put the final touch on the tree.

Four and a half years ago, Natalie’s mom Louise Fugaro, was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She fought bravely for nearly three years, but by last Thanksgiving had fallen very sick. On March 18, 2013, she passed away. “She was a fighter,” Crisafulli said. “She was the most generous and loving person; She loved her family, friends, and cooking.” Crisafulli also expressed “My heart aches every day because I miss her so much. We would talk 25 times a day.”

The Crisafulli family plans to carry on as many of the Fugaro family traditions as they can, and were so happy to light this tree. Fugaro’s wish was that her daughter would find an existing tree at their home suitable to continue the tradition, rather than plant a new one. The 35+ foot evergreen next to their garage was a perfect fit, and was decorated with lights and large red bows for its inaugural lighting.

They will continue the Fugaro family tradition, and coordinate their lighting ceremony each year with the Rockefeller Center tree ceremony.  The tree at 8 Timber Lane in Randolph might be slightly smaller, but for this family, it shines a whole lot brighter.


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