Italian Heritage in New Jersey: St. Lucy’s Church

If someone asked me what is the most important location associated with Italian heritage in New Jersey, I would say without hesitation St. Lucy’s Church.

Since its cornerstone was placed in 1891, St. Lucy’s Church in Newark has been a source of pride and devotion for the millions of Italian immigrants and the generations that followed. In 1998, St. Lucy’s Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The parish namesake, Saint Lucy (Santa Lucia), martyred in Sicily in third-century is the patroness of those afflicted with diseases of the eyes.

St. Lucy’s Church is the home of the National Shrine of St. Gerard. Every October, tens of thousands of the faithful flock to pay homage to St. Gerard. St. Gerard Maiella of Avellino was born on April 6, 1726. He was the only son of Benedetta and Comenico Maiella. Because of his frail health he was not immediately accepted into the Order but, due to his insistence and persistence he was finally accepted in May of 1749 and became a lay brother of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. St. Gerard passed away on October 16, 1755. In 1977, St. Gerard’s chapel in St. Lucy’s Church was dedicated as a national shrine. While it was never made official, he is considered by many to be the Patron Saint of Mothers.

The third pastor, Msgr. Joseph Granato, served the parish with dedication and faith in God’s providence for 54 years, until June 2009. For those of us who have met Msgr. Granato, he borders on rock star status. His dedication to St. Lucy’s and the community has earned him a spot on many prayer lists of families of the parish.

At its height, over 30,000 Italian immigrants lived in the one square mile around the church, known as the First Ward. For over 80 years, that neighborhood thrived and supported their beloved church. Sadly, the neighborhood came to its end in the post-World War II period. The main factor causing the disintegration of the neighborhood came in 1953 thanks to developers and the city government. They forced people give up their homes and move against their will, bulldozing in days what took over eight decades to build. City officials often referred to the First Ward as a “slum.” The Newark Housing Authority claimed its rebuilding efforts would slow or reverse the population shift to the suburbs, however, they couldn’t have been more wrong. Approximately 15 percent of First Ward residents left the city for good (including my family) the moment they were displaced. More than half the businesses in the clearance zone ceased to exist. Those homes were replaced with large buildings providing low-income housing. As the years continued, they were a great source of crime and an example of all that was wrong with Newark. Unfortunately, the damage was done at the point. The First Ward was destroyed and one of the most vibrant Italian communities in the country was history. All in the name of progress.

People with a connection to the area, and St. Lucy’s specifically, still return regularly for church. I am the fourth generation of my family that returns to St. Lucy’s every October for the Feast of St. Gerard. It is one of only two churches in the entire state where I feel truly at peace and able to prayerfully reflect and enjoy the silence.

I tell everyone I know, if you have never visited St. Lucy’s, take the time to visit this amazing church full of beautiful art and history, as well as a strong connection to the Italian community of New Jersey.

It’s Spring: Get Out!

Let’s face it; we’re all sick of being stuck inside. As the weather continues to improve, the masses will head outside to the many wonderful parks and open spaces throughout New Jersey. As families continue to cancel vacations and choose to stay local, some of the hidden gems of The Garden State may not stay quite as hidden. Here are some suggestions as you and your family head outside.

Frenchtown, New Jersey

Be a tourist in your own backyard

You could live in New Jersey your entire life and miss out on some of the best attractions, parks, museums, and more within a short drive from your home. Start your day by checking out the New Jersey tourism site to see what is right near you. The site not only provides information about places to go, it also has a calendar of events so you can get out and enjoy a special event. Like jazz? How about the Exit Zero Jazz Festival in Cape May. Want to learn about how Revolutionary soldiers survived winters during the war? Experience America’s first national historic park, Morristown National Historical Park. There’s something for everyone.

Take a step further and do even more local research by looking at county and town or city websites. The Morris County website can tell you all about the Frelinghuysen Arboretum. The Essex County website will tell you when to visit Branch Brook Park in Newark and Belleville to see the cherry blossoms in bloom (hint: it’s now!). Every town in New Jersey offers something interesting. I bet there’s even something in your own hometown you may not even know is there!

Know before you go

COVID rules are continuing to change at a dizzying pace. Make sure to go online and check the current rules so you are properly prepared. This will help avoid frustration and disappointment when you head out.

Leave only footprints

Last year, our parks saw traffic that was unprecedented. Unfortunately, some visitors did not treat our parks with the respect they deserve. Last summer Hedden Park in Morris County was closed for two weeks to repair damage from park visitors that included hauling out trash, stream repair, and taking care of damage from a dumpster fire.

Please do not leave trash behind, move rocks in streams, or harass or feed wild animals. And absolutely please do NOT leave behind PPE garbage. PPE like masks and gloves are threatening wildlife everywhere. Leave the electronics in the car (or even at home!) and enjoy the beauty of nature around you. Make sure to carry in/carry out. Take only pictures and leave only footprints.

Get out!

So take advantage of the nice weather and finally leave your home confinement. Check out one of the great New Jersey museums, visit Branch Brook Park, go down the shore, enjoy some Kohr’s frozen custard, and take a walk down the boardwalk. Just get out!

Heritage

heritage noun
her·​i·​tage | \ ˈher-ə-tij  , ˈhe-rə- \
Definition of heritage
1: property that descends to an heir
2a: something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor : LEGACY, INHERITANCE proud of her Italian heritage
a rich heritage of folklore
The battlefields are part of our heritage and should be preserved.
b: TRADITION
the party’s heritage of secularism

There have been a lot of conversations about heritage as of late. Right now, what one person looks to as a proud heritage, another person looks to as oppression. This is resulting in the removal of statues and the review of what is often a tumultuous history of our nation.

In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

We all learned that rhyme as children when we were taught Columbus “discovered” America.

Well… not quite.

The truth is, as children what we were taught was not always accurate. According to Columbus’ journal, he suggested the enslavement of the indigenous people he encountered in modern-day Haiti. While he did not find the riches he expected, he sent back 500 indigenous peoples in the form of slaves to Queen Isabella of Spain. The horrified Queen immediately returned the individuals, as she considered them Spanish subjects, thus they could not be enslaved.

Columbus made a total of four trips to the “New World” during his days of exploration. The man is now a point of controversy due to the true history of his exploration. Some consider him a great explorer, as the first in a long line of explorers to travel to the Americas. Others remind us of the flawed history we were taught and his inhumane treatment of the indigenous people he encountered.

So, why am I telling you all this? Stay with me.

New Jersey has been the home of countless Italian immigrants and Americans of Italian descent; like me.

I was born in Columbus Hospital in Newark. I grew up with macaroni on Sundays at 3:00 p.m. – sharp. When I passed my driver’s exam, one of my new jobs was heading to DiPaolo’s Bakery on Bloomfield Avenue before dinner on Sunday to pick up bread and dessert. I went to (and still go to) the annual Feast of St. Gerard at St. Lucy’s Church; the Church my Great Grandmother would help clean every day after morning mass. We were taught to be proud Americans – but to never forget where you came from.

Enter Christopher Columbus.

During October, Italian Heritage Month, Columbus Day is celebrated; often with parades and sometimes, a day off from work. Due to the recent civil unrest, there are calls to remove statues of Columbus and eliminate the holiday. Some have even suggesting replacing the day with “Indigenous Peoples Day.”

In the city of my birth, there are – or were – two Columbus statues. The larger of the two was in Washington Park. It stood as a gift from the Italian community of Newark in 1927. Funds were privately raised directly from the immigrants who helped turn Newark into a modern metropolis. The second one I saw often, as it was in front of St. Francis Xavier Church on Bloomfield Avenue. My Grandmother was part of the St. Francis Senior Citizens Club. Another “job” of mine once I was able to drive was to drop her off and pick her up from her meetings. This statue was a gift to Newark from the Italian Tribune newspaper.

Both are now gone.

Under the cover of darkness, Mayor Ras Baraka had the statue removed from Washington Park. In a press release from the Mayor, he said the removal of the statue is not a slight to the Italian-American community, but as a “statement against the barbarism, enslavement, and oppression that this explorer represents.”

Trust me when I tell you, a slight is exactly what that act was.

The second statue was removed by the Italian Tribune before the Mayor made the decision to remove it as well. Additionally, a Columbus statue was removed from West Orange by their Mayor. Another statue was recently removed in Trenton.

That statue the Mayor took down represents more than just a man. It represents the hundreds of thousands of Italian immigrants and Americans of Italian descent that made important contributions to the history of Newark, New Jersey, and the United States. There is no doubt the history of Columbus we were taught as children is not accurate. He does not represent all that is great of the Italian heritage. However, if the statues of Columbus come down, will something to commemorate all Italian immigrants and their descendants have done go in its place? While I hope so, I doubt it.

StLucys

St. Lucy’s Church

Italian immigrants throughout the country assimilated quickly to their new homeland. Oftentimes, they gave up their language and in many instances, their ethnic names within one generation. Pasquale became Patrick and Lucia became Lucille – all in the effort to be more “American.” When I was a child, I used to bring home books in Italian from the library and beg my Grandmother to teach me. Her answer was always the same; “you are American and you speak English!” To this day I am still trying to learn.

Despite the often posted “Italians need not apply,” they worked hard. They were masons, butchers, and worked on the railroad. The men built the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. They enlisted in the military of their new homeland, and fought on the front lines of two World Wars.

I hope a new statue will be placed in Newark as a way to commemorate all the contributions of the Italian community. Here are four examples:

Mother Cabrini: Saint Francis Cabrini was an Italian immigrant who created a missionary to help other Italian immigrants when they came to America. She is the first American Saint to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.

Amerigo Vespucci: Our country’s literal namesake, Vespucci traveled to the “New World” multiple times during his time of exploration.

Giovanni da Verrazzano: da Verrazzano’s expedition to the “New World” traveled almost the entire East Coast of the United States and Canada.

Monsignor Joseph Perotti: As a young priest, Father Perotti immigrated to Newark in 1896 and became the first Pastor of St. Lucy’s Church, an important Italian place of worship, where he remained his entire pastoral career, until his death in 1933.

These are just four of the countless members of the Italian community in Newark that are deserving of recognition.

I am a proud American. I am also proud of my heritage.

Right now there’s a lot of yelling on both sides of the argument to remove the statues of Christopher Columbus. A lot of yelling, but not a lot of listening. I really wish both sides could come to an understanding that would make everyone happy, however, I doubt that will happen. I truly fear if the statues come down, Columbus day is removed from the calendar, all the good Italian immigrants and the generations after them will be lost to the ages.

We will truly forget where we came from.

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?

 

 

Going Home: Seton Hall Weekend

Seton Hall Class RingIn September around the country, colleges have their own versions of “Parent’s Weekend” to show off the best of their schools. This weekend was Seton Hall’s turn. When I received the announcement about all that would take place on the campus, I felt a longing to take a ride to visit my college home.

My day started with taking something out of the jewelry box I hadn’t worn in quite a while – my college ring. It still fit perfectly and was a good reminder of my college years. I took the ride like I just did it yesterday. Parkway South to 280 West. South Harrison Street to South Centre Street to the Farinella Gate. Just as it was when I was a student, parking was tight. I found a spot behind Xavier Hall. I headed to the walkway. I was home.

Fahy HallI wasn’t an alumnus visiting her old campus. I felt like an undergrad again. The first thing I saw was the was the new sign in front of Fahy Hall announcing the new name of the College of Communication and the Arts. I was very excited when I received the announcement about the College earlier this year. I felt like it was a great acknowledgement of all it adds to the University.

I headed into Fahy and went downstairs like it was yesterday. I went right to what was then known as the “Mac lab” and saw a Electronic Publishing and Pagination Labsight that just warmed my heart. It was the sign for the Pagination and Publishing Lab. I peered through the window into the dark room and it looked a lot different than I remembered. Gone were the 15 Macintosh computers with two laser printers. It now looked like a high tech classroom with the best technology available today. I spent more hours in that area than I can remember. It was the heart of my education. I looked at the names on the doors and many are still the same. Hoffman. Kuchon. Plummer. Yates. Zizik. While I was College of Communication and the Arts at Seton Hallthere, these were many of my mentors. I saw Professor Reader in his office. We chatted for a few minutes. He told me Professor Rosenblum had retired and is now living in California working for Google from time to time. Dr. McKenna has also retired. Those two men, along with Professor Gottlieb, were the core of my education at Seton Hall and I am forever grateful for their care and guidance.

Seton Hall PiratesI left Fahy and walked alongside Xavier to “The Green.” Along the way there were great welcome signs; another reminder of the warm welcome I felt the first time I walked on the campus as a senior at Belleville High School. The moment I walked on the campus, I knew this was where I belonged. When I walked into the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, I knew I would get married here; about six years later, I did.

I then turned right and went in the side door of the Student Center and up to the second floor. The office of The Setonian was in the same place. I was the News Editor for one year and Professor Gottlieb was the advisor. As I have mentioned in a post on another blog, when she would compliment me on an article and approved it for The Setonianpublication, it was true “Pirate Pride!” Every Wednesday would start at the Setonian office reading and editing articles for the paper. Later in the evening, we would head over to the Pagination and Publishing Lab to run galleys to put through waxers (yes, I am dating myself) to complete the layout. I learned not just about good journalism, but print production and publishing. The evening would often technically finish early Thursday morning. Two of us would drive to the printer with the boxed up flats so they were there as soon as they opened in the morning so the paper would be on campus Thursday afternoon. I’m not going to lie; it was brutal and there were sometimes I wanted no part of it. There came a Dr. Tracey Gottliebpoint when I had to say goodbye to the work on the paper. I was sad, but knew it was how it worked. You entrusted the work to the next class. I did discover a nice surprise as I walked around the corner; my mentor, now “Dr.” Gottlieb’s office! She is now Vice President of Student Services. A very well-deserved position.

Chapel of the Immaculate ConceptionI took a walk through The Green and looked at all the events they had set up for the kids. It was a perfect weather day and the kids were having a great time. I was sorry to see there weren’t any tables for all the different activities, but it was OK. I enjoyed meandering around the campus. The old library has been replaced by a new building for the Stillman School of Business. The Chapel is just as beautiful as always. There were several weddings taking place throughout the day. Happy couples beginning their lives as husband and wife, just as I did with my husband Glenn in 1994.

I walked alongside President’s Hall and Marshall Hall to the new library. It is truly a marvel. A great university deserves a great library and this is definitely it! I walked up to the reference desk and asked if there are old copies of The Setonian still kept in the library. I explained thanks to Hurricane Irene, I lost all my clippings. The woman was very sorry and gave me the contact information for someone who could help me. I plan on calling him during the week.

Alpha Gamma Delta Seton HallJust as I finished at the reference desk, I saw a student walk by wearing her Alpha Gamma Delta shirt. I hurried after her and told her I was in pledge class Alpha Xi. She was so nice! She brought me over to the table where she was sitting with her other sisters and we all had a nice chat. They are lovely and intelligent young women. They told me about all that is going on with the sorority. I loved how they would refer to their sisters as “Gams.” I was happy to hear the college had finally taken a hard stance against hazing; the primary reason I drifted away from the sisterhood when I was an upperclassman. It sounds like the college has gone a little too far in the other direction, but I am happy to hear students today are well protected against such nonsense. I gave them my email address so they could keep in touch with me. It was a great visit!

I then walked over to Duffy Hall to the bookstore. Just like many other spots on campus, it is in the same place with a nice updated look. Of course I had to pick up a few new things. I almost picked up an AP Style Guide but decided against it in case students still need to make purchases. I still have my Style Guide I purchased when I first started taking my journalism courses.Mother Seton

My last stop of the day was inside the Chapel after one of the weddings. I knelt and prayed just as I had done many times before. It was nice to have some quiet reflection. As always I prayed for my family members that have gone home to God, for those who are here, for strength, for wisdom, and offered my thanks for allowing me to be part of the Seton Hall family. I offered a prayer at Mother Seton before leaving.

pirate-smI headed back down the path alongside Xavier to my car. I put my new Pirate magnet that was handed out on The Green on the back of my car. I began to head out of the lot back to South Centre Street. My transition from undergrad to alumnus took place as I passed the column at the gate. I was thankful for such a wonderful day. I enjoyed walking around the campus and meeting some of the current Gams was great! It was a day full of great memories. As I age, I try to forget the bad and remember the good. And I have a lot of good memories at Seton Hall University.

Independence Day – Jersey Style

Many may not realize the significance of New Jersey in the fight for Independence. Morristown National Historical Park is nationally significant as the site of the 1779-80 winter encampment of the Continental Army under General George Washington. This amazing place represents patriotism and sacrifice during this pivotal period in our nation’s history.

There are multiple locations in the area of Morristown that are worth a visit in the summer. From Fort Nonsense, to Jockey Hollow, to Ford Mansion – you can easily spend a few days experiencing all this area has to offer.

RevTimes-2016-logoThere are plenty of great events taking place during the upcoming Independence Day Weekend. Known as “Revolutionary Times Weekend,” the event will also salute the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the 200th anniversary of the Trustees of the Morristown Green.

Saturday, July 2nd
The Hanover Township Landmark Commission kicks off the weekend with a free tour of its 1718 Burying Yard located off of Route 10 East in Whippany. This one-hour tour will highlight people who first settled Morris County and are buried in the cemetery.

Sunday, July 3rd
Morristown National Historical Park will host a Revolutionary War encampment at the Ford Mansion. Costumed re-enactors will be on hand demonstrating a soldier’s life in the Continental Army. As a special event, between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. the park welcomes the United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps for a concert, on the lawn between the Ford Mansion and the Washington’s Headquarters Museum.

Als0 on the 3rd, check out a fireworks display. Fireworks will begin at 9:15 p.m. at Central Park of Morris County, off West Hanover Avenue. Central Park of Morris County will be open for picnicking beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Monday, July 4th
Events will begin at the Ford Mansion where the Continental Army re-enactors will march to the Morristown Green at 11 a.m. At the Morristown Green there will be family activities beginning at noon. Members of the Morristown National Historical Park’s ranger corps will provide the annual Reading of the Declaration of Independence, a long-standing Morris County tradition, at 12:30 p.m.

Following the reading there will be a musket salute and free guided tours of the Presbyterian Church of Morristown‘s church and Colonial-era graveyard.

So make sure to party this weekend like it is 1776!

Happy 350th Anniversary New Jersey!

This year marks the 350th anniversary of New Jersey. From its important role in the Revolutionary War, to Thomas Edison’s many important discoveries, to the awesome voice of Frank Sinatra, New Jersey is way more than the butt-end of jokes by those who have no idea what a wonderful state it is!

The “official” New Jersey began as a gift from Charles II of England to his brother James, the Duke or York. James gave a piece of his gift to two noblemen, Sir George Carteret and John Lord Berkeley. The document that actually shows this transaction is now located at the New Jersey State Archives in Trenton.

When the English arrived in 1664, they found Native Americans, Swedish, and Dutch settlers already calling what would ultimately be New Jersey their home.

In 2014, three themes have been developed to help celebrate this special anniversary…

Innovation: The world has been reshaped again and again by people from and things created in New Jersey. From Edison’s light bulb, to the Atlantic City boardwalk, to the first intercollegiate football game, to Frank Sinatra and Count Basie, New Jersey’s innovations and innovators have had an impact around the globe.

Diversity: By virtue of its location and diversity, New Jersey is in many ways a microcosm of the U.S., with numerous national themes playing out within the state’s boundaries over the past 350 years.

Liberty: New Jersey played a pivotal role in the American Revolution, witnessing more significant military action than any other state in the new nation and establishing a tradition of distinguished military service that continues to this day. New Jersey’s commitment to the cause of liberty was further demonstrated when it became the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights in 1789.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, I know I don’t have to tell you how much I LOVE my state! From fly fishing on the Flatbrook, to enjoying the beach at Wildwood, to a great Italian dinner at one of the awesome restaurants in Essex County, New Jersey has it all!

If you would like to learn more about the different events that are taking place around the state to celebrate this important milestone, check out the official anniversary site: officialnj350.com. I hope you will take some time this year and participate in one of the great events planned!

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!

Lake Mohawk Christmas Crawl and German Christmas Market

blue_christmas_bellsAs we come closer to the official start of the Christmas Season, there are plenty of special events that take place around the state. These events offer great shopping opportunities while checking out an area that may be new to you.

This year, Lake Mohawk is offering the first Christmas Crawl discount card that is available for purchase now and is active until the end of the year. The card is only $10 and the cost will go to support local charities. Some of the discounts include:

  • St. Moritz Brill & Bar ($10 off dinner check of $50 or more, 10% off gift cards)
  • Krogh’s Restaurant & Brew Pub (10% off any check Monday – Thursday)
  • Restaurante Il Porto – (One free lunch* with parties 2 or more, or one free dinner*with parties of 4 or more. *Denotes Free entree at equal or lesser value)
  • Casa Mia Pizzeria – (Mondays  2 Pizza’s for $18, Tuesdays 3 sandwiches for $18, 10% off holiday catering ordered by 12/15/2013)
  • Tante Baci – ($10 off any $55 check, $20 off any $110 check)
  • Bologna Deli & Cafe – ($2 off any $20 check or more)
  • Shelter – (15% off purchases & FREE GIFT with every purchase over $100)
  • Nihao Fashion Boutique – ($5 get certificate with any $50 purchase, $10 gift certificate with any $100 purchase)
  • The Plaza Barber Shop – ($1 off and free beard trim  – Tuesdays only)
  • Earth Art Gallery – (20% off entire purchase)
  • Onore Tailor – ($100 discount towards any suit, overcoat, or sport coat and slack combination)
  • Lake Mohawk Flower Company  – (25% off any flower arrangement and select merchandise)
  • Casual Canine – ($5 off First Visit)
  • Enelda’s Happy Brides – (20% off all sales)
  • Nutty Over Sweets – ($3 off per pound of “Green sticker” candy)
  • Lake Mohawk Country Club – (10% off Off-site catering)

The card is available for purchase from all the participating businesses.

In addition to the Christmas Crawl discount card, the annual Lake Mohawk German Christmas Market will be held on the boardwalk over looking beautiful Lake Mohawk, in Sparta, New Jersey.

The 2013 German Christmas Market will be open for business to the general public as follows:
Saturday, December 7th  2013  10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Sunday, December 8th 2013  10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

For those who are not familiar, Lake Mohawk is a private lake community with a beautiful man-made 800-acre lake stocked with numerous fish, including striped bass, and has a catch and release policy. The lake also features ten beaches, powerboating, sailing, water skiing, and various clubs for its 2600 member families. While the lake community is private, there are plenty of lovely shops and the boardwalk that is open to the public.

Many of the buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the center sits on the  Wallkill River. It is a lovely little area to visit!

Historic Mullica Hill

Mullica Hill

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Mullica Hill, NJ.
Author: Smallbones

Set deep in South Jersey’s scenic southern farmlands of Gloucester County, Mullica Hill, settled in the late 17th century and built mostly during the Civil War era, has the best of the past and present.

Mullica Hill’s authentic historical background makes it an especially interesting spot for antiquing. There are nearly three dozen antiques shops here, most of which are located near or on Main Street, many occupying buildings as old as their wares.

In 1991, the entire village was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Mullica Hill Historic District.

If this sounds like something that will make for a fun fall day, then you should check out the 45th Annual Fall Festival. Step back in time to a Civil War Living History Program.  Experience a Civil War Camp life, a weapons display, baking on an open fire, candle dipping as well as medical display & civil war re-enactment.

This is the perfect way to spend a lovely fall afternoon in where else, but New Jersey!