Hey, Andrew, What Are You Doing This Weekend?
Pollara will be at the Caldwell firehouse getting ready for the annual Tricky Tray
Andrew Pollara has been making a list and checking it twice, just like another big guy everyone loves this time of year.
Only Pollara's list contains more than 200 gifts donated by area businesses for the Caldwell Fire Department's Tricky Tray this Saturday evening.
This is the fifth year that the 27-year-old Caldwell volunteer firefighter has co-chaired the fundraiser held following the borough's tree-lighting ceremony; co-chair and honorary firefighter Tamara Bross started the tradition 15 years ago.
Pollara said that planning starts on the first of September and that he and Bross hit the streets soliciting gifts on Nov. 1.
"We basically canvas the entire town and ask for donations," said Pollara.
He'll spend Friday night gathering, labeling and assigning numbers to all the prizes. "Friday night is crazy night," he said.
On Saturday, he'll be joined by fellow firefighters to remove the trucks from the firehouse, set up tables and prepare a special spot for children to visit with Santa. He'll also make a trip to Caldwell Nursery to purchase wreathes and other greens with money donated by local business people.
While the community gathers for the annual tree-lighting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. on the Caldwell Green, Pollara will be in the firehouse taking care of last-minute details. Then, as townsfolk make their way down to the firehouse, Pollara, who stands at 6-foot, 6-inches tall, will welcome everyone wearing a Santa hat. Later, he'll use his booming voice to call out the numbers while Bross is "Vanna White" showing off the prizes.
Proceeds from the Tricky Tray benefit the Caldwell Fire Department, as well as its Children's Education Fund, which provides scholarships to the volunteer firefighters' kids. There will be hot chocolate and coffee donated by Rockn' Joe, as well as cookies and donuts, all complimentary. Parents bring their own cameras to take photos with Mr. Claus. Tricky Tray sheets are $20 for 16 tickets and five super prize tickets. (Super prizes have a value of more than $100.)
After the Tricky Tray, Pollara said he and Bross traditionally head over to the Cloverleaf for a toast. Sunday, after church, it will finally be time for Pollara to relax and catch some football. He'll also finish putting up his Christmas lights at home.
In the end, Pollara said the time and effort are well worth it. "It's stressful, yes, but it's fun."