Christmas cheer comes to Seaside Heights

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. - December 19, 2012

The town took a beating from Hurricane Sandy, but today residents and students returned for some Christmas cheer.

Four bus loads of displaced students returned to Seaside Heights today for a tree lighting and Christmas party with other borough residents.

It was a sea of red and green elf hats worn by kids whose lives have been turned upside down by the devastating storm.

"I used to live in Seaside Heights and my house got destroyed so I just want Seaside to look very nice," student Michael Cisneros said.

"Being back home no matter what it just feels good to be here even if just for a few hours and this just makes it all normal for the kids," displaced resident Jeanette Sanchez said.

Linda Polites has stayed in 5 different shelters and hotels since the storm and came back for the event.

"A lot of us that are homeless don't really have Christmas right now and we figured it's just a little glimmer of hope that hopefully things will be getting back to normal," Polites said.

For many kids this was the first time back since they evacuated in October

"It feels great because I get to see my hometown again but it's sad because there's a lot of construction work going on, but it feels good," student Jake Lastella said.

The kids were treated to presents from Santa donated by fire departments in Massachusetts and Carbondale, Pa.

The tree lighting and the party were held during the day because Seaside Heights is still in recovery and mostly off-limits. Everyone had to be out of town by 4:00 p.m.

"After 4:00 p.m. we try and get everybody out of town and then we go around and check on things, number one for safety, number two for personal belongings, people's houses," Seaside Heights Police Chief Tom Boyd said.

Kids ask Santa for all kinds of things, but one 8year-old told Action News his Christmas wish has nothing to do with toys this year.

"I wish I could go back to my house. I wish my house was just fixed. I wish we could go back home," Frank Barone said.

For most everyone here that's a wish that can't be granted yet.

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