Big Santa returns to Westfield Garden State Plaza for first time since 1980s

PARAMUS, New Jersey (WABC) -- For one New Jersey community, the unofficial start to the holiday season kicks off with the lighting of a giant Santa Claus.

Westfield Garden State Plaza held a lighting celebration to welcome the return of "Big Santa" on Tuesday evening for the first time since 1985.

The new, illuminated 45-foot-tall Santa will be visible from both Route 17 and Route 4.

From the 1950s through the 1980s, an unforgettable 51-foot tall "Big Santa" was perched atop a chimney in Westfield Garden State Plaza's parking lot facing Route 17 where it could be seen for miles.

Many remember seeing the Big Santa when they were kids, so his return is a happy reminder of younger days.

The Paramus High School marching band kicked off the celebration followed by the arrival of Santa Claus on a Paramus Fire Truck.

After the ceremony, children were invited to meet Santa and have hot chocolate and other treats.

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