Memorial Day 2022 Events

Memorial Day weekend is upon us and we all look forward to it for different reasons. For many it is a three day weekend. It is the unofficial kickoff to summer. It’s barbeques, cold beer, and the beach.

Actually, no, it really isn’t.

It is a moment to stop and honor and remember the fallen. To commemorate members of the military that made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can all live free. Who gave that last full measure of devotion.

How it became a weekend for mattress sales, I’ll never know. It is simply appalling.

Northern NJ Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Sussex County
Northern NJ Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Sussex County

There are a variety of different events that take place all over the country. From the wreath laying at Arlington National Cemetery, to moments of silence and the playing of Taps at events in every small town, to parades with current military members wearing their Class A uniforms; you can find events near your location.

Here are a few events taking place around the state:

Closter: Memorial Day Parade, march from Closter Borough Hall, 295 Closter Dock Road, through center of town to Memorial Park on Harrington Avenue for services, concluding with food and refreshments at Closter Elks Lodge, 148 Railroad Ave. 10 a.m. May 30.

Garfield: Memorial Day Parade, march from Veterans Monument on Midland Avenue to Garfield VFW Post 2867, 340 Outwater Lane, 11 a.m. May 30. 973-772-4696.

Lodi: Memorial Day Observance, 8:30 a.m. Ambulance Corps ceremony at 72 Kimmig Ave., 9:15 a.m. fire department ceremony at 99 Kennedy Drive, 10:15 a.m. VFW ceremony at 163 Union Ave., 11 a.m. American Legion ceremony at 41 Union St., and 11:45 a.m. police department ceremony at 1 Memorial Drive, followed by “Walkway for Peace” ceremony, May 30. 973-365-4005.

Mount Laurel: Memorial Day Tribute, wreath laying at Veterans Memorial, 6 p.m. May 26, Laurel Acres Park, 1045 S. Church St. 856-727-0595.

Cherry Hill: Memorial Day Service, ceremony at War Memorial cohosted by American Legion Post 372 and Jewish War Veterans Post 126, honoring 75th anniversary of the US Air Force with US Army Reserve Lt. Col. Daniel S. Bash as keynote speaker, 11:30 a.m. May 30, Carman Tilelli Community Center, 820 Mercer St., 856-488-7868.

Voorhees: Kirkwood Memorial Day Parade, march from old Carriage House Restaurant, 1219 Kirkwood-Gibbsboro Road, right on Walnut Avenue, left on Second Avenue, right on Chestnut Avenue, then right on Burnt Mill Road, ending at Kirwood Fire Station Veterans Memorial with wreath laying service, 11 a.m. May 30, Voorhees Township Fire Department, 2002 S. Burnt Mill Road., 856-429-7174.

Memorial Day

Cape May: Memorial Day Ceremony, 11 a.m. remembrance in conjunction with the American Legion Post 193 and VFW Post 386 followed by U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May detachments’ rifle salute and launching of flower boat from Gurney Street Beach, May 27, Soldiers and Sailors Park, Gurney Street and Columbia Avenue., 609-884-9525.

Glen Ridge: Memorial Day Parade, march beginning at Sherman Avenue and Baldwin Street and proceeding to memorial in front of Ridgewood Avenue School, 235 Ridgewood Ave., for memorial ceremony, 11 a.m. May 30, 973-748-8400.

West Orange: Memorial Day Ceremony, observance in front of the township municipal building, 66 Main St., 10 a.m., May 30, co-hosted by VFW Post 376 with WOHS Air Force Junior ROTC Squadron, township historian Joseph Fagan and vocalist Lynette Sheard. Special honoree will be the late Gordon Hansen, a West Orange High School graduate who posthumously was awarded the Purple Heart for his participation in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. His war-time trumpet will be used by Rob Adams for the playing of Taps.

Glassboro: Memorial Day Parade and Flyover, with F16 jet fly-over by the New Jersey Air National Guard 177th Fighter Wing in Atlantic City. Procession from Lehigh and University Boulevard to Whitney Avenue and High street, ending at Glassboro Fire Department, with solemn ceremony at Veterans Memorial Plaza, 10 a.m. May 30, Glassboro Town Square, North Main Street and Rowan Boulevard. 856-881-9230, ext. 88322.

Guttenberg: Memorial Day Observance, 11 a.m. May 30, Monument Park, 70th St and Blvd East.

Flemington: Memorial Day Parade, march from Hunterdon Urgent Care down Church Street, right on Main Street to Civil War statue, 9 a.m. May 30, 908-782-8840.

Edison: Memorial Day Parade, march from Plainfield Avenue and Division Street to post home, noon May 28, American Legion Father & Son Post 435, 43 Oakland Ave., 732-287-0900.

Sea Girt: Memorial Day Parade, march from Sea Girt Elementary School, 451 Bell Place, to the Plaza, followed by festivities at Baltimore Park, 8:45 a.m. May 30. 732-449-9433, ext. 130.

Roxbury: Memorial Day Parade, march from Meeker Street and Hillside Avenue in Succasunna to Main Street past library and right on Eyland Avenue, across Route 10 to Veterans Memorial on Horseshoe Lake Island, followed by ceremony presented by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2833, 10 a.m. May 30, Horseshoe Lake Park, 72 Eyland Ave. in Succasunna.

Belleville: Memorial Day Ceremony, May 30, 11:00 a.m.: Dutch Reform Church Cemetery, 171 Main 12:00 p.m.: Veterans Memorial Park, Union Ave & Tiona Ave.

Budd Lake: Memorial Remembrance Day Ceremony, May 30, 10:30 a.m.-noon at All Veterans Memorial Ceremonial Grounds at Turkey Brook Park, 30 Flanders Road. Full event including Tolling of the Ascension Bell, Honorable Service Paver Installation, JROTC, and Rolling Thunder.

Oh, and don’t say “Happy Memorial Day.” There is nothing “happy” about it. It is a solemn day we all get to enjoy due to the sacrifice of the millions of military members that have ensured our freedom. And if you see a vet, say “thank you” and buy them a cup of coffee.

2022 New Jersey Goals

As the calendar turns and we move ahead to 2022, most people make resolutions for the new year. I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of resolutions. They are usually all the same; lose weight, spend more time with the family, blah, blah, blah. While it may sound like semantics, I prefer to make goals.

According to Merriam-Webster, a goal is defined as, “the end toward which effort is directed.” A resolution (the third definition) is, “something that is resolved.” A goal is much more specific. A resolution is hardly exact.

Anyway…

My goal list here is specific to New Jersey. This is all about the effort I will direct to my own beloved state.

Search for Fossils

You may not realize it, but New Jersey offers a variety of opportunities to find fossils. Creatures that range from tiny cephalopods to huge wooly mammoths called New Jersey home. I have never found a fossil, but I will say I never really looked. My goal is to find one this year.

Hike the AT

No, I don’t expect to hide the entire Appalachian Trail, better known as the “AT.” I want to hike just the New Jersey portion of the Trail. The entire length of the AT traverses 14 states from Maine’s Mount Katahdin to Georgia’s Springer Mountain.

The New Jersey stretch of the Appalachian Trail is 74 miles long and begins at Abram S. Hewitt State Forest in the northern most point and runs west and south through Wawayanda State Park, High Point State Park, Stokes State Forest, ending at Worthington State Forest. Now, I do not expect, nor do I plan, to traverse the entire 74 miles in one clip. I will, however, develop a plan to break it down into several short single-day hikes. A great resource to help get started on this goal is the New York New Jersey Trail Conference. This special organization is powered by a great group of volunteers that build, maintain, and protect public trails.

Fish a New Stream for the Heritage Brook Trout

Long before I knew the brook trout was the state fish, it was always my favorite species. The colors are amazing and they put up a wonderful fight. I absolutely love to fly fish in a stream and listen to the water rush downstream as I stand in the river.

The downside, sadly, is the most popular rivers in New Jersey are very well known and generally over-fished. An added frustration for me is that I see plenty of anglers fishing aggressively without a proper license. I regularly encourage those anglers to purchase their license. I explain those license dollars are put right back into the resource. Unfortunately, those anglers usually walk away laughing. It is personally frustrating.

So I want to find a new stream for fishing. But not just any old stream. I want to find a stream that gives me the opportunity to fish for the Heritage Brook Trout. According a study on brook trout genetics, wild populations of brook trout have unique genetic identities. Some Garden State brook trout populations are descendants from the original brook trout colonizers present after the last glacial ice sheet receded more than 10,000 years ago. The existence of these ancestral populations, dubbed heritage brook trout, is important for conservation efforts of this native species (learn more about brook trout genetics by reviewing the original 2008 article).

Advocate for my State’s Open Spaces

Mount Hope Park, Morris County, New Jersey
Mount Hope Park, Morris County

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know I am an advocate for the ecology and preservation of the Garden State’s open spaces. Places like the water that the heritage brook trout have liked for thousands of years are threatened on a daily basis due to pollution, encroachment, and other modern-day challenges. From protecting the red knot to attending Environmental Commission meetings on the local level, we all have a responsibility to make sure our natural resources are protected. I plan to continue to advocate and take a more active role to protect those special spots.

Attend Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart

In all my life, I am sad to say I have only attended mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, better known as Newark Cathedral, only once. If you have never been, it is a true piece of art built by the immigrants of Newark; many from the First Ward, the original Italian section of the city. Construction began in January 1898. While the Cathedral began holding mass in 1928, that labor of love was not completed until October 19, 1954. In 1974, the Cathedral was added to the New Jersey Historical Society. Two years later, it gained national recognition when it was listed as a National Historic Site.

On Wednesday, October 4, 1995, Pope John Paul II visited the United States. During the visit, Pope John Paul II conferred the title of Minor Basilica to Sacred Heart Cathedral, giving it its current name, Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. I attended mass at the Cathedral the following Sunday.

This year I will attend mass at least once and sit in prayer and reflection, knowing the history and exceptional effort and craftsmanship that built that wonderfully artistic home of faith.

Head Back Down the Shore

The S. S. Atlantus, also known as the “concrete ship,” at Sunset Beach, Cape May

If you are from Jersey, you know that trek down the Garden State Parkway is known as “going down the shore.” It has been two years since my husband and I smelled the sea air or walked on a beach. It renews my soul and clears my mind. One of my favorite spots is Sunset Beach in Cape May. I love digging for Cape May diamonds and walking on the shoreline turning horseshoe crabs upright. After the last two years, I say it is important to head down the shore to replenish my soul.

Visit the Pine Barrens

The New Jersey Pine Barrens, also known as the Pinelands, is the largest remaining example of the Atlantic coastal pine barrens ecosystem. It stretches across seven counties and is over 1.1 million acres. In 1978, Congress created the Pinelands National Reserve (PNR) through the passage of the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978. The Pinelands National Reserve is the first National Reserve in the United States. It is also home to the elusive Jersey Devil.

I am ashamed to admit, but this is another part of the state I have yet to experience in a meaningful way. I would like to plan a hike in the Pine Barrens and maybe get some fly fishing in as well!

Shoot More Film

A large majority of my hobbies are quite analog. I fly fish and tie flies. I crochet, spin yarn, felt, and weave. I really enjoy Geocaching. I also enjoy film photography. I regularly listen to a podcast called the Film Photography Project hosted by two guys from Jersey. Their entire gang of regular guests and commentators offer great advice for photographers at every level. Over the last two years, I have developed a terrible case of GAS (otherwise known as Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and am now the proud owner of a variety of film cameras. I plan to get out more and use them. With all my planned outings, I should have some wonderful opportunities to shoot more film!

Be Happy

Most importantly, I want to be happy. The last two years have been hard on all of us. For the most part we have been stuck in our homes. Maybe you lost your job, or worse, even lost a loved one. I shared the story of someone very dear to my husband and me, Dr. Michael Giuliano, who lost his life to the Coronavirus early in the pandemic when he continued to treat patients despite the risks.

It is time for all of us to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and see our loved ones. New Jersey is a wonderful state and we are lucky to have so many different ways to enjoy it. So, get out and take a hike, go grab a ripper at Rutt’s Hut, or take a ride down the shore. Get back to living and be happy.

Learning the History of the Lenni Lenape

When I was in fourth grade the entire year focused on New Jersey history. As much as I disliked Mrs. Stackfleth, I will say she was great at teaching the history of the Garden State.

We spent a great deal of time learning about the Lenni Lenape, whose traditional territory spanned what is now eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Lower New York, and eastern Delaware. “Lenni-Lenape,” literally means “Men of Men”, but is translated to mean “Original People.” The two tribes we focused on the most were the Nanticoke-Lenni Lenape Tribal Nation and the Ramapough Lenape Nation; both from New Jersey. Just like most things in Jersey today, one was in what is now considered South Jersey and one was in what is now considered North Jersey.

Nanticoke-Lenni Lenape Tribal Nation is made up of descendants of Algonquian-speaking Nanticoke and Lenape peoples who remained in, or returned to, their ancient homeland at the Delaware Bay. Within the larger South Jersey tribe, there were three main groups; the Munsee (People of the Stony Country) lived in the north. The Unami (People Down River) and Unalachtigo (People Who Live Near the Ocean) lived in the central and southern part of the homeland.

The Ramapough Lenape Nation were a Munsee-speaking band, an Algonquian language-speaking people. Although the Ramapough Lenape Indian ancestors have resided in the Ramapough Mountains for thousands of years, there is little documentation in New York or New Jersey that refers to the nation. This is most commonly believed to be due to a lack of written language by the Ramapough people. As a result, most information has been passed orally from generation to generation, much of which has been lost to the ages.

The Nanticoke-Lenni Lenape Tribal Nation and the Ramapough Lenape Nation are both recognized by the New Jersey Commission on American Indian Affairs.

Throughout the year all the Tribal Nations in New Jersey as well as the New Jersey Commission on American Indian Affairs offer programs on their histories and original ways of life. It is a great way to learn about the original residents of Jersey.

The Official Jersey Bucket List

As we all continue to wait to be paroled from Coronavirus jail, many of us are making plans of what we would like to do once we are free to go anywhere and do anything. Well, this had me start to make a “Jersey bucket list;” all the things Jersey-related someone should do at some point.

I hope you consider checking out some of these ideas once we are turned loose. Whether you are a foodie, a shopper extraordinaire, or someone who loves the outdoors, there is something on this list for everyone.

Visit High Point: At 1,803 feet above sea level, High Point State Park is the highest spot in the state. High Point is also the highest peak of the Kittatinny Mountains. The view is simply spectacular, as you can see New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The land for High Point State Park, donated by Colonel Anthony R. and Susie Dryden Kuser, was dedicated as a park in 1923. You can hike, swim, fish, and camp.

Hike the New Jersey Section of the Appalachian Trail: While you are checking out High Point, get on the Appalachian Trail. The “AT” as it is often referred to, is a non-governmental, independently managed recreation facility of the national park system and is the nation’s longest marked hiking only trail at 2,180 miles. The AT runs from Maine all the way to Georgia. The New Jersey section is 74 miles long. If you are a serious hiker, many can complete the entire New Jersey section in less than a week. It can also be traversed in shorter day hikes. Hiking the Trail is a great way to see some of the most beautiful parts of the state.

Rutt's Hut

A typical meal at the Jersey famous Rutt’s Hut.

Complete the Hot Dog Trifecta: In Jersey we have opinions about EVERYTHING. Including who has the best hot dog. For many, it comes down to three: Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, Hirams in Fort Lee, and Hot Grill in Clifton. I know some who would argue River View East in Elmwood Park or Maui’s Dog House, North Wildwood. We certainly have a ton of great options!

Decide which is the Best Italian Hot Dog: Just like everyone has their favorite hot dog joint, there is always an argument as to who has the best Italian hot dogs. It comes down to two places: Dickie Dee’s in Newark and Jimmy Buff’s in West Orange. Try both and decide for yourself.

SunsetBeach

The rocks at Sunset Beach

Visit Sunset Beach in Cape May: This is one of my favorite places in the entire state. I could easily spend an entire day at Sunset Beach. Take the kids to play miniature golf, grab a bite to eat the The Grille, or do my favorite thing of all – dig for Cape May diamonds on the beach. The most touching moment of the day takes place as the sun sets. At the end of each day at Sunset Beach during the summer, make sure to stay and watch the flag ceremony. All of the flags flown at Sunset Beach are veterans’ casket flags that families bring with them from their loved one’s funeral. It is a truly moving event.

Shop the outlets in Atlantic City: As you leave Cape May, check out the great deals at the outlets in Atlantic City. From Calvin Klein, to Coach, to Cablea’s, there’s something for every member of your family. It is definitely worth the ride!

Visit Morristown National Historical Park: One of my first dates with my now husband was a visit to Jockey Hollow. It is a great place to see “where America survived.” The entire area is known as Morristown National Historical Park and includes multiple interesting places to explore and commemorates the sites of General Washington and the Continental army’s winter encampment of December 1779 to June 1780, where they survived through what would be the coldest winter on record.

Plan a Wine Tasting Event at One of Jersey’s Wineries: The Garden State is home to over 40 wineries. It’s history goes all the way back to 1758 when Great Britain’s Royal Society offered £100 to any colonist who would produce red or white wine “of acceptable quality,” meaning the wine was of the same caliber as that being purchased from France. While New Jersey’s wine history has experienced challenges, it is now flourishing!

Visit all of New Jersey’s Lighthouses: There are over 20 lighthouses still in existence in New Jersey and they are from the top of New Jersey to the bottom; not just down the shore. About half of those are open to the public.

Catch a Wild Brook Trout on a Dry Fly: When people talk about fly fishing they usually think of two things: Montana and the movie A River Runs Through It. What you might not know is that there’s plenty of great places to fly fish right in New Jersey. As someone who has been fly fishing for over two decades, there is nothing like catching a fish – any fish – on top water. To me, the most perfect catch is a native wild brook trout on a dry fly. For me that would be on one of four of my favorite dry flies: an Adams, a Royal Wulff, A Blue Wing Olive, or an Elk Hair Caddis. And not your standard 12 or 13 inch brook trout; a serious brookie. In case you didn’t know, the brook trout is the state’s official fish.

Go to Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart: One of the most beautiful churches in the state is the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark. During Pope John Paul II’s visit to the United States in 1995, he celebrated evening prayer at the Cathedral. At this occasion, the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart was elevated to a minor basilica to become the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

Enjoy Dinner at The Belmont: Growing up, I had two favorite restaurants: The Finish Line and The Belmont and I had favorite dishes at each place. At The Finish Line, I loved their zuppa di pesce. At The Belmont, I know many people go for Stretch’s “Famous” Chicken Savoy, but for me it was always their Scrod “Di Giacomo” Oreganato.  I haven’t been to The Belmont in a long time, and I am way overdue.

Lemonade and a Cheese Steak at The Midway: Like many others, I have great memories of going “down the shore.” I’ve learned your shore stop has a lot to do with you age. When I was a teenager, like many others, my stop was Seaside. A favorite practice of mine was to grab a cheese steak and lemonade at The Midway, sit on one of the many benches, and people watch. It was always fascinating. Sadly, Sandy and the boardwalk fire took away the “shore of my youth” as Governor Christie put it. What hasn’t changed is the opportunity for cheese steak and lemonade at The Midway while people watching.

Visit the Pine Barrens: The Pinelands is the largest remaining example of the Atlantic coastal pine barrens ecosystem, stretching across more than seven counties of New Jersey. Congress created the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve, the country’s first National Reserve, to protect the area under the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978. The reserve contains Wharton State Forest, Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, Bass River State Forest, and Penn State Forest. It is approximately 1.1 million acres and spans portions of seven counties. The reserve occupies 22% of New Jersey’s land area and it is the largest body of open space on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard between Richmond and Boston. The Pinelands was designated a U.S. Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1983 and an International Biosphere Reserve in 1988. It is also known as the home of the legend of The Jersey Devil.

I’m sure there’s a lot I am missing. What is on your Jersey bucket list?

The Importance of Protecting New Jersey History

As one of the original 13 colonies, New Jersey has a long and rich history. In 1620, a trading post was established at the site of Bergen, New Jersey, which would later be developed as the first permanent white settlement in the area.

Van Dien-Ruffgarten House

The Van Dien-Ruffgarten House in Paramus. The Paramus Planning Board is discussing a demolition permit for the site on Nov. 7. (Photo: Stephanie Noda/NorthJersey.com)

As time marches on, however, many of our oldest buildings are in danger of being wiped off the face of the map. In 2017, historians and concerned residents in Bellmawr, New Jersey, woke up to find the Revolutionary War-era home they had been trying to save had been destroyed at dawn by a construction crew, just one day after an attorney representing a group working to save the home filed a lawsuit to prevent the house’s demolition. Why? To expand a highway. The home that stood on that site since 1744 was razed before the process played out in court.

Each year Preservation New Jersey releases a statement of the 10 most endangered historical sites in the state. In 2016, one of the site listed was the Van Dien-Ruffgarten House in Paramus. This property is now one step closer to demolition. The Paramus Planning Board recognized a request by 113-117 West Midland Avenue LLC for a demolition permit for the site, 117 W. Midland Ave., at its meeting earlier this week.

The Van Dien-Ruffgarten House sits on a valuable nine-acre lot and is one of six remaining examples of a Jersey Dutch stone house in the borough. Built between the 1840s and 1850s, the one-room stone portion of the home was said to be occupied by members of a small enclave of educated and independent African-Americans.

Over the past several years, the Bergen County Historical Society Historic Preservation Committee has tried to negotiate in good faith with the town in an effort to save the centuries-old building.

We are now on the precipice of seeing another historical site demolished in our beloved state. If we aren’t careful there won’t be anything of our history left.

So what can we do?

We can let our government officials know how important these locations are to us. We can support our historical societies. We can attend planning meetings whenever historical sites will be discussed. We can continue to learn about and support our historical sites.

Don’t let Paramus eliminate an important part of New Jersey history.

End-of-Year Gift Giving in New Jersey

We all have someone on our list that is tough when it comes to gift giving. Since many are looking for an end-of-year tax deduction, why not give someone a donation in their name to a special Jersey charity? Here are some great New Jersey-based charities that will support important organizations while giving a special gift.

adoptaspeciesAdopt a Species: The Adopt a Species from Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey is a favorite of mine. You choose one of the endangered species that calls New Jersey its home in order to help them survive and thrive. You can pick from several species, including the bald eagle, the Indiana bat, the blue-spotted salamander, and the Pine Barrens tree frog to name a few.

Peters Valley School of Craft: This organization also has a special place in my heart. As fine and performing arts are eliminated from public school systems, groups like Peters Valley become more and more important. Founded in 1970, this small artist colony was officially established in partnership with the National Park Service to promote and encourage education and excellence in craft. Peters Valley is actually nestled within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and was once the farm village of Bevans. They offer workshops for both children and adults, as well as demonstrations and open house events. If you are looking to purchase a truly unique gift, you will definitely find it in the shop and gallery.

Antler Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary: Antler Ridge is a 120-acre preserved farm located in Warren County. This special place is a wildlife rehabilitation center that provides vital care and treatment to sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife. From fawns to chipmunks, these little creatures are brought back to good health so they can be released back into the wild. They are brought over 1,000 animals a year for care and it costs on average $175 per animal per month to provide the care they need.

Under My Wing Avian Refuge: As a life-long bird owner, I love to see an organization focused specifically on birds. Under My Wing provides a safe permanent residence for tormented and unwanted exotic birds and maintain their lifelong care. People sometimes do not know that birds can live a very long time and aren’t prepared for the commitment. My cockatiel just turned 20! In other instances, the bird may outlive the owner and family members may not be able to care for the bird. Under My Wing works to provide care for these birds when no one else can.

cssCamden Sophisticated Sisters, Distinguished Brothers – DB’z & The Almighty Percussion Sound (TAPS): I saw this group on television recently and just loved them! Located in Camden, the Sophisticated Sister and Distinguished Brothers are a precision drill team and TAPS provides great percussion sounds. They combine hip hop, jazz, and military moves with percussion. The kids learn teamwork, self-respect, confidence, discipline, and a love for the arts. Camden is a tough place and the Sophisticated Sisters, Distinguished Brothers, and The Almighty Percussion Sound provide these kids with a positive and safe environment.

If you are looking to donate to a worthwhile organization, I hope you will consider one of these great non-profits. Like I said in the beginning, if you have a person that is hard to buy for, making a donation in a loved one’s name could be a great way to help an organization and provide a special gift for someone you love.

Independence Day Weekend Events in New Jersey

While most people in the tri-state area think the Macy’s fireworks are the hot ticket for the Independence Day weekend, we in Jersey know better! Here are some great ideas to enjoy the long holiday weekend.

Jersey City will host the “Freedom and Fireworks Festival” on Friday. Events will take place at Liberty State Park and will include a visit by the Budweiser Clydesdales and Bud Beer Gardens. Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro, is also creating a special Fourth of July cake for the Jersey City Freedom & Fireworks Festival. Country music star Craig Morgan and Kristen Redmond will perform. The live music begins at 5:30 p.m. Of course the day will conclude with an awesome fireworks display!

The battle at the Princeton Battlefield State Park on Jan. 3, 1777 is considered to be the fiercest fight during the American Revolution. General George Washington led his troops to this otherwise peaceful winter field and defeated a force of British Regulars, giving Washington his first victory against the British Regulars on the battlefield. The park is open Friday, July 4 — 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. and admission is free. There will be period games will be available for children of all ages. A talk on the Battle of Princeton will be given at noon and a reading of the Declaration of Independence will happen at 1 p.m.

Washington’s Headquarters in Morristown, is the site of the 1779-80 winter encampment of the Continental Army under General Washington. It will be open to the public Friday, July 4 — 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and events will be held on the Morristown Green. Music and entertainment will be provided by The Four Old Parts and Wire Harp. At noon, the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Tom Ross, superintendent of Morristown National Historical Park, followed by a NJ 350th Proclamation read by Morris County Freeholder Director Thomas Mastrangelo. A musket firing by the 2nd New Jersey Regiment and singing of “Happy Birthday New Jersey” will happen at 12:45 p.m. At 1:30 p.m., free tours of the Presbyterian Church and graveyard. The day will end with a Fort Nonsense ribbon cutting with Eileen Cameron, president of the Washington Association of New Jersey, and Mayor Timothy Dougherty, at 2 p.m.

In 1776, the third reading of the Declaration of Independence took place in New Brunswick.  Come celebrate the 4th of July with a re-enactment.  Learn about the history of the reading, tour the Historic Christ Church Cemetery at 5 Paterson Street.  Sing along with patriotic songs of the era and hear American music performed on a traditional pipe organ.  Free admission and complimentary refreshments.

Garden State Fireworks will launch an electrifying palette of pyrotechnics at Bayonne’s annual fireworks show on Tuesday (rain date Wednesday, July 2) at 9:15 p.m. In conjunction with the inauguration of Bayonne mayor-elect Jimmy Davis that day, there will be live entertainment from multiple bands beginning at 4 p.m. at G. Thomas DiDomenico 16th Street Park, giving way to fireworks. For information call 201-471-7590 or visit www.bayonnerec.com.

The State Fair Meadowlands, in East Rutherford, will stage its firework display on July 3 and July 4 at 11 p.m. The State Fair is the largest fair in the area, with more than 50 vendors, rides, racing pigs, a juggling show, an acrobatic motocross show, live performances and more. The fair will be open on July 3 from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. and July 4 from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. Entrance to the fair is $8 and $10. All active military personnel, with proper military ID are being offered free admission to the fair and an unlimited ride hand stamp from June 20 to July 6. The unlimited ride hand stamp is not available on June 20. The fair includes performances by Larry Chance and the Earls, The Rip Chords, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and Heffron Drive.

Montclair will host its 64th annual Independence Day Celebration promising attendees a host of live musical performances, parade and fireworks display. The parade, which begins at 11 a.m., will comprise of various organizations and marching bands. The parade will travel west on Bloomfield Avenue to Midland Avenue, heading to Valley Road and ending at Edgemont Park for a July 4th Family Picnic. The family picnic, from noon to 3 p.m., will include the Joe Fischer magic show, pony rides, face painting, spin art, sand art, tattoos and balloon art. In addition local bands, Black Lace Blues and Jason Didner & the Jungle Gym Jam, will provide live music. The Montclair fireworks display will take place at Yogi Berra Stadium on Montclair State University campus. The stadium admission is $3 per person or $10 per family with no charge for children ages 5 and under. Gates open at 7 p.m. and free parking will be available at parking decks surrounding the stadium.

The city of Camden has plenty of events scheduled for their second annual Camden Waterfront Freedom Festival. The Camden Waterfront Freedom Festival features the region’s largest fireworks display, live music, military displays and demonstrations,  amusements, contests, food concessions. The Freedom Festival Beer Garden will be open during regular festival hours from July 3-5, featuring local New Jersey beer. The festival will kick off on Thursday, July 3 with the pre-celebration for 102.9 FM WMGK’s 13th Annual Let Freedom Rock Fest. The festival will feature family-focused attractions, games and amusements, and a performance by WMGK’s former house band, the Sofa Kings. All events will lead up to the 6 p.m. concert at Live Nation’s Susquehanna Bank Center featuring Foreigner, Styx and former Eagles guitarist Don Felder. The festivities continue Friday, July 4, with live bands, military vehicles and armed forces displays visiting the Camden Waterfront with patriotic music and activities from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Adventure Aquarium Waterfront Fireworks Celebration features the region’s largest fireworks display and takes place Saturday night, July 5, after the Camden County Freedom Concert beginning at 3 p.m. The festival will come to a close Sunday, July 6, with special discounts for active military and veterans and their families at both Adventure Aquarium and the Battleship New Jersey Memorial & Museum.

Monroe Township will be holding it’s annual 4th of July fireworks show at Williamstown High School Friday on July 4, complete with food vendors, a balloon artisan and skydivers. The festivities begin at 7 p.m. and fireworks start at 9 p.m.

Washington Township will hold its annual 4th of July celebration Thursday, July 3 at the Washington Lake Park Amphitheater.  Beginning at 7 p.m., the event will start with a flag raising and recognition of veterans. Immediately following will be a performance of patriotic songs by resident Michael Jones and a concert by Touché.  A fireworks show will held at 9:15 p.m. and will shoot off from the amphitheater. Attendees can view from the lawn or elsewhere in the park. The fireworks will be shot to medley of patriotic music. Officials suggest brining bug spray and folding chairs. Food will be available.

A Fourth of July celebration featuring a Spirit of Americana Bake-Off competition and a “Most Patriotic Canine” costume contest will take place 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Footbridge Park, 79 West Crisman Road (Route 94) in Blairstown.

The 11th annual traditional reading of the Declaration of Independence will take place from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Ringwood Manor, Sloatsburg Road in Ringwood Manor State Park. $5 parking.

A concert of patriotic favorites will be performed by the West Morris Community Concert Band 7 p.m. Sunday at Gardner Field on Route 46 and Savage Road in Denville. Fireworks will follow at dusk. Call (973) 625-8300.

Did a miss an event in your area? Make sure to post it in the comments below!

Shop Small in New Jersey this Weekend

Small Business SaturdayWhile many are focused on Black Friday and the big box stores, what I am really excited about is Small Business Saturday. Depending on the study and the area, anywhere fom 50% to 80% of money spent stays right in that local community. Many towns are planning special events this upcoming Saturday. Here are a few:

Hackettstown: They are extending Small Business Saturday to Small Business Week! Some of the events include a Luce Decor Holiday Open House, Hackettstown Historical Society is having a special event on December 6th from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., the Old Souk Trading Company Semi-Annual Sale takes place from Saturday, Nov. 30 to Friday, Dec. 6.
Collingswood: Earthen Treasures will be at the Art Within Reach Event December 6-8, Grooveground is offering special deals that include extra gift cards when you purchase a gift card. Blue Moon Premiun Oil & Vinegar is giving a $5 off a “make-your-own” sampler. There are also plenty of specials at stores for the kids like Duck Duck Goods and ExtraordinaryEd. You can find the complete list at the Collingswood Patch.
Denville: The town of Denville starts on Friday with plenty of activities, including a tree lighting, story time with Mrs. Claus, and choirs from the local schools.
Middlesex, Union and Somerset Counties: the Tri-County Chamber of Commerce will host its first “Shop Small Business Saturday” at the Somerville Elks Lodge located at 375 Union Ave. (Route 28) Bridgewater, NJ 08807.  The show will have a variety of vendors offering unique boutique-like items and services as well as merchandise from consultants for larger companies.
Morristown: The Morristown Patch is lending a hand to Morristown’s Small Business Saturday by offering free parking when you come to “shop small.”

These are just a few of the events going on around the state. Know of others? Add to the comments section below. Or better yet, post them on my Facebook page! And make sure to shop small this weekend!