Camden tree lighting a symbol of hope, change

CAMDEN, N.J. - December 11, 2013

"I love the lights, it just reminds me when I'm at home with my family, and I just get a warm feeling even though it's freezing cold," said Josie Sanchez.

12-year-old Josie Sanchez is ready for Santa who also made an appearance at the lighting down by the waterfront.

The 6th grader has lived in this city since birth and she loves this season.

"I feel home and love all around the area," she said. "In Camden, you don't feel it a lot and you get to feel it on Christmas. Everyone is united together as one."

That may be a child's view of Camden, but it is also one that Mayor Dana Redd is trying to make a reality as she reflected on 2013.

The new county police force brought more officers and new policing efforts to combat high crime rates.

The last supermarket closed in September but Shop Rite announced a new center planned for 2015.

And even though it is the holiday shopping season, residents don't have those big department stores like nearby Cherry Hill.

"It would be better if people could spend their money in the city to help out the city, but it's frustrating when you can't," said Jonetta Jones.

"There's not that many people that can spend the money that is needed to have a thriving economic center. Slowly but surely, it's coming," said Jose Sanchez.

Mayor Redd says the state's new economic opportunity act is expected to lure private investors and create jobs.

She also pointed out there are several small businesses for shopping.

Either way, Redd believes soon a lot of people will be singing a different tune about Camden.

"I've committed to our citizens that we are going to do 8 in 4, which means we're going to do twice the work in four years, so we're looking forward to lifting up our city," said Mayor Dana Redd.

Many not may not share the same optimism, but most would agree change has got to come.

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