Ramblin’ Around: Jersey Events this Weekend

In the fall there are plenty of weekend festivals. It seems like the third weekend of October are always full of great events. There are three specific festivals I would like to share with you.

StLucysThe Feast of St. Gerard: Saint Lucy’s Church on Seventh Avenue in Newark is the home of the National Shrine of St. Gerard. He was born in Muro, a small town in the South of Italy on April 6, 1726 and is the patron saint of expectant mothers. In the second half of 1890s, the predominant immigrant groups in the First Ward were coming from the Province of Avellino. They came with a sense religious life deeply expressed in a love for St. Gerard, who lived in the Province of Avellino during eighteenth-century. In 1899, immigrants from Caposele, Italy introduced the annual feast in honor of St. Gerard, who died October 16, 1755. In 1977, St. Gerard’s chapel in St. Lucy’s Church was dedicated as a national shrine.

Members of my family, like thousands of other families who trace their heritage through Italy, pay homage to St. Gerard each October during the Church’s multi-day feast. I remember fondly the first feast I attended with my cousin and Goddaughter. No matter where those families move, they all come back the weekend of October 16th to pray and pay respect.

If you have never been to St. Lucy’s or the Feast of St. Gerard, I highly recommend a visit. Sit quietly in the church. Take in the beautiful statues. Light a candle for your loved ones. And grab a sausage and pepper sandwich before you head home.

welcomepiratessign-smSeton Hall University Weekend: From the moment I walked onto the campus of Seton Hall University my senior year, I felt like I was home. And every time I’m on the campus since then, the feeling is still the same. I’ve written about Seton Hall Weekend before. It is a great event. I love sitting on the green, meeting the current students, and shopping in the bookstore. The last time I went to Seton Hall Weekend, I met current sorority sisters from Alpha Gamma Delta. I had a great time chatting with them in the library. There are a variety of events that take place during the multi-day event, including an art exhibit at Walsh Library, music performances, and carnival games.

Chester Harvest Celebration: The two-day Chester Harvest Celebration is currently in its 36th year. Originally know as Black River, Chester pre-dates the birth of our nation. Many of the original buildings are still on the main street and are now home to wonderful shops and restaurants. The Chester Harvest Celebration includes demonstrations of the way things used to be, including a blacksmith demonstration and apple pressing.

These are just three examples of all the great events that are taking place around the state. Check out many others on the New Jersey Monthly website.

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Fall Festivals: Jersey Style

Van Ripers Farm

10/22/1975 Woodcliff Lake. The witches, ghosts, and goblins are making a return visit at Van Riper’s Farm in Woodcliff Lake as Holloween draws near. Photo Credit: Peter Monsees

Many people look forward to fall. The turning of the leaves. Picking pumpkins. Apple cider donuts. It helps make the thought of the cold winter on the way much more tolerable. As a child, I fondly remember going to Van Ryper Farms in Woodcliff Lake, carefully passing the scary witch, to pick the perfect family pumpkin and bring home a bag of hot cider donuts. Sadly, as Joni Mitchell laments, they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

Thankfully, there are still many great fall festivals up and down the Garden State. From the food and drink to pumpkins and cider, New Jersey has something for everyone! Here are some to wonderful events for everyone in the family.

Fall Fest Food Truck and Music Festival, Wildwood

Many times I have shared stories about my love of Wildwood and Wildwood Crest. Well, the fun “down the shore” doesn’t end on Labor Day. The Fall Fest Food Truck and Music Festival takes place on September 21st. This years Fall Fest will take place in Fox Park, from 11am – 4pm. There is a “kids zone” for the little ones and plenty of great food and music!

Fall Festival & Classic Car Show, Union

Enjoy some chili while checking out beautiful classic cars at the Fall Festival & Classic Car Show in Union. This is a relatively new event and takes place at Stuyvesant Ave from Vauxhall Rd. to the Cannon and it sounds like a lot of fun!

Cranberry Fest 2019, Bordentown City

The history of cranberries is older than the recorded history of America. Long before the first European settlers arrived, the Indians not only ate cranberries, but also used them as medicine and clothing dye. New Jersey is one of the top farming locations in the country for our this little tart berry. The Cranberry Fest in Bordentown City is in its 30th year and offers over 150 crafters, artists and vendors, and 40,000 visitors annually.

Bloomfield 2019 Harvest Fest

Right nearby my beloved home town of Belleville is the Bloomfield 2019 Harvest Fest. This wonderful event includes the best food from local restaurants, rides, and even a petting zoo for the kids!

So what are your favorite festivals?

 

 

9-11: Our Responsibility to the Next Generation

It seems each generation had a moment solidified in time.

Pearl Harbor

The assassination of John F. Kennedy.

The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

We now add 9-11 to that list.

The children graduation high school this year were not alive when this day happened. Just like the generations before us, we have a responsibility. A responsibility to teach them about this day. To share our feelings and verbal histories. Make sure they understand what happened, what we felt, and how we stood together.

Nearly 700 of New Jersey’s own were lost on that day; and one from my hometown of Belleville: Antoinette Duger, age 44. There are over 150 memorials around New Jersey to remember those souls we lost that day.

9-11 memorialThe company I worked for at the time lost two of our own: Andrew Curry Green and Jeffrey Peter Mladenik. One of our colleagues lost a sister: Jeanette Louise Lafond-Menichino. Two other colleagues were on a flight that morning. Thankfully, they were not on any of the flights that met their fate that day. I remember us scrambling around, looking for their flight information. Calling their cell phones, not knowing until they called us to say they were on the ground and safe.

For those of us who were alive on this day 18 years ago, it is a day frozen in time. It was a morning much like today. Blue sky, pillow-like white clouds, warm, sunny, beautiful.

Then everything changed.

I think about a lot of things this morning. The heart aches for those who lost a family member, a loved one, a friend, a colleague. I think about the man I interviewed with many years ago after the first terrorist attack at the World Trade Center. He told me the job was not work from home. I would need to be in the office every day. I told him I wasn’t concerned because “lightning doesn’t strike twice.” I wonder if he was still working there. I wonder if he made it out. I think about my partner in crime from high school. How her father made it out alive. And I thank God he did.

Those of us who lived through this day 18 years ago have a responsibility to share with this new generation. To make sure we never forget.

A Tale of Three Falcons

Each spring for the past 19 years, something amazing happens in the concrete jungle of Jersey City. A pair of peregrine falcons takes up residence at the top of a skyscraper; 101 Hudson Street to be exact.

The peregrine falcon historically bred in New Jersey on the cliffs in the Palisades and along the Delaware River. During the 1930s and 1940s, there were approximately 350 pairs of peregrines nesting east of the Mississippi. As the century progressed, the number of nesting pairs rapidly decreased due to multiple factors, including unregulated hunting pressure and the use of DDT. Now, the peregrine falcon is on the state’s endangered list.

Falcon-6-21-19

The remaining female eyase at 101 Hudson Street

Thanks to hard work and conservation efforts, there are now over 20 nesting pairs of falcons  in New Jersey. Two of which you can actually watch thanks to “falcon cams” – one in Jersey City and one in Union City Each year for at least the last 15 years I’ve looked forward to the spring when the Jersey City falcon cam is turned on so we can all watch for egg laying, hatching, and watching those eyases (baby falcons) fledge (take flight) for the first time.

Well, this year something happened that was just shocking to say the least. A few days ago window washers at 101 Hudson sprayed the baby falcons with water, pushing two of the three eyases off the roof of the building. As these two babies had not yet fledged, they both fell. One was rushed to The Raptor Trust for evaluation and treatment. The second went missing for several days. Volunteers scoured the area for days for the second eyase. It was finally found Friday and is also now at The Raptor Trust. The third eyases was found at a lower level and was returned to the nest box on the roof.

Viewers of the falcon cam could only watch in horror as all this took place.
According to reports, building management was finally reached and the window washers were escorted off the premises. New Jersey Fish and Wildlife is investigating the entire event.

This entire sad event has shocked the entire bird watching community, as the Jersey City Falcon Cam has a world-wide following. I remember back when I first discovered “the cam” and sharing it with a friend, colleague, and fellow bird lover. As word spread about the falcon cam, other colleagues would check in on the falcon family throughout the day. As member of the IT team, and when Internet access was at a premium, I was supposed to make sure access was for work purposes only. However, when it was “falcon cam time,” I never seemed to be able to catch anyone using the Internet improperly. Maybe because I wasn’t looking very hard.

I hope the two window washers are, at the very minimum, disciplined and the rest of the employees in the building are educated about the endangered birds that live on the roof. These are special birds that need to be protected. The more people that know they are there, the better so we can all help protect them.

If you have never checked out any of the falcon cams, I hope you do!

Jersey Music and Down the Shore: Perfect Together

carousel

Carousel at Wildwood. Credit: Andrea Lyn Van Benschoten

As it is now Memorial Day Weekend and many of us head down the shore, we often can’t help but think of our youth. Our first car, driving down after prom, windows open, and music blasting.

We have great pride in this state; especially pride for our music. Whether you come from the era of Connie Francis (from my hometown of Belleville), The Four Seasons (from the city of my birth, Newark), Frank Sinatra, Bon Jovi, South Side Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, or The Boss, just like everything else, if you live in Jersey, you have strong opinions about our music.

There is a special sound that comes from Jersey music. As soon as you hear it, you know it is must be a Jersey Guy. But what makes that “Jersey Sound?”

One word: Calliope.

What? Let me explain.

When you go down the shore, you may not head to the rides like The Scrambler anymore, but we all look forward to a ride on the merry-go-round. No matter your age, we all turn into little kids when we head to that special ride that has been on the boardwalk for generations. That unique music mixed with pipe organ and bass drum is one of those happy memories we think about in January when the temperature is in the single digits and the snow is above your knee. While the correct name for the instrument that provides that music is the band organ, most people refer to it as the Calliope.

Now with that in mind, listen to the last minute of Springsteen’s Jungleland or the first 30 seconds of Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, thanks to Roy Bittan. Hear that right hand? That’s the homage to that wonderfully unique sound of the calliope. Add to that Danny Federici’s organ, glockenspiel, and accordion playing, and you have what is known as “that Jersey Sound.”

You can hear this same sound when you listen to Love on the Wrong Side of Town by South Side Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. By the way another Jersey favorite son, Jon Bon Jovi also gigged with the great Southside Johnny.

Many will argue that the prominent use of a horn section is a big part of what makes up that unique sound, and they would be correct. After all, what is The E Street Band without Clarence Clemons? And the use of trumpets hitting the high notes in Southside’s band is a mainstay of his band. But that piano and organ combo is what makes up that special sound.

So as the weather gets warm and we all head down the shore, windows down, wind in our hair, remembering our youth and blast our favorite Jersey music, you can thank the carousels of our childhood for that special music that sets us apart from the rest of the country.

Remembering the Haunts of my Youth

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

We all have favorite places from our youth. For me there were several. One favorite of mine was Mickey Music – a record store. One of my high school jobs was at a cigar store in the same strip mall as Mickey Music. I would work all day Saturday and was paid in cash. During my 30 minute lunch, I would walk down to Mickey Music and each week pick out a new album. I think it’s a GNC now.

Then there’s Muscara Music that used to be on Washington Avenue. It was down the

Muscara-Music

Credit: Ralph J Barone

street from Belleville Middle School (which was the original High School). Mr. and Mrs. Muscara started the instrument shop in 1951 and was visited by the likes of Connie Francis and Frankie Valli – two of Belleville’s own, by the way. I would go in and check out all the instruments as I would walk home from school and sometimes pick up some new sheet music.

It’s a Walgreen’s now.

Then there’s Jackie’s Lemon Ice. It was the BEST lemon ice. Period. I used to ride my bike down to Jackie’s on Union Avenue in the summer. The parking lot was the official hangout. You would always run into someone while you were there. Once I had my license, my friends and I would head there by the car full. You could get almost any flavor you could dream up, but I really only ever wanted lemon. Giacomina “Jackie” Rega’s lemon ice stand was open from 1951 and until his death in 2001. After that it became a Rita’s – common lemon ice. Nothing compared to Jackie’s.

 

Jackies-Lemon

Credit: Matt Kadosh/NorthJersey.com

Well, this past week, Jackie’s building was torn down. And when that building was torn down, there was a lot of sadness felt by the decades of fans of Jackie’s special recipe of lemon ice, complete with lemon zest. At least we all still have our memories. What will go up in its place you ask? A 7-Eleven.

And there goes another paradise.

 

Planning on Fishing? Make sure to Get a License

Fishing season opens this weekend in New Jersey; a wonderful time of year! My husband and I just love getting out to the awesome open spaces all around New Jersey and fly fishing different fresh water locations. There is one important step many people skip, however. Buying a New Jersey fishing license.

Rockaway Borough

I can’t believe the number of anglers I see out fishing without a license. I also see plenty of people with their chum buckets taking tons of fish that shouldn’t be removed. Sadly, many of these anglers (and I use that term loosely) do not know the regulations, take whatever they like, and often, leave trash behind. When these locations are over-fished, it takes a long time for them to come back and get healthy again.

Every year my husband and I make sure to purchase our fishing licenses and display them properly as required by law when we are out fishing. We even purchase the trout stamp, even though we don’t harvest fish. Why you might ask? Let me explain.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife works hard to protect our open spaces, which includes stocking fish, checking licenses during hunting and fishing seasons, and offering education programs for adults and children. Fees collected from licenses help to continue the various programs conducted by Fish and Wildlife.

Conservation Officers are spread very thin throughout the state. It is on us to be caretakers of the resources in New Jersey.  If you see someone taking part in illegal behavior, such as poaching or other “wildlife crimes,” contact Operation Game Thief Hotline at 1-855-OGT-TIPS. If you see any ENVIRONMENTAL emergencies, call the 24 hr. DEP HOTLINE at 1-877-WARN-DEP.

And if you are going to go fishing, spend the money and get your license. Fish legally. If you see trash when you are out, pick it up and carry it out. Try and help out where you can and leave the space better than how you found it. Be a good steward of our open spaces.