Giving Tuesday in New Jersey

Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday; a great reminder to give back whenever you are able. There are a number of wonderful non-profits and organizations in The Garden State that need support. Here are a few of my favorites.

A Helping Wing Parrot Rescue & Sanctuary

I may have never mentioned it in the past, but my husband and I had a fussy little cockatiel named Mendelssohn for just about 22 years. When he crossed the rainbow bridge, we couldn’t bring ourselves to just throw away his cage and bags of food. It was then I discovered A Helping Wing Parrot Rescue. We contacted their director and made a plan to bring her Mendelssohn’s cage, extra toys and feed cups, and food. Their director, Jeanne, gave us a tour of her sanctuary and it was simply amazing. Jeanne, her husband John, and her entire team care for an amazing number of birds. It is a monumental effort to care for all these birds and try to find homes for those that can be adopted.

The Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you would know I am a proud American of Italian descent. If you would like to learn more about my heritage and the history of Italian immigrants in New Jersey, check out my other blog, Jersey Girl, Italian Roots. The Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition is also proud of the Italian heritage of countless Americans who trace their roots back to the Motherland. The Coalition works to fight the negative stereotypes of Italian Americans through education of Italian heritage and culture. I am a proud member of the Coalition.

New Jersey State Library

I have loved libraries since I was a child. The smell of the bookstacks, the quiet of the space. I always found it meditative. There was a point in my young life I actually wanted to be a librarian. Maybe that’s why I love the New Jersey State Library so much.

This is a wonderful place that helps visitors find information as well as preserve New Jersey history. I’ve been there a few times to research family history. The librarians are incredibly knowledgeable and work very hard to preserve what is available to patrons.

Local Historical Societies

Speaking of preserving New Jersey history, don’t forget your local historical societies. These often under-funded and overlooked organizations work hard to preserve and protect local history. For example, my hometown, The Belleville Historical Society, is currently fighting to preserve the Irvine Cozzarelli Memorial Home, which was built in 1885 and is considered an architectural gem by preservationists. It was also the setting for many of the wakes and funerals on The Sopranos. We are losing far too much of our history to redevelopment. These small organizations are on the front lines of that fight.

If you Can’t Donate…

Morristown Green Statues
Statues at the Morristown Green wearing the latest styles from the Morristown Fiber Fairy. (Source: Morristown Fiber Fairy Facebook page)

I know it has been a rough few years for many, so not everyone might be able to make a financial donation. Instead, consider volunteering somewhere for a day (or longer!). Can you crochet or knit? Make a few hats and scarves and send them to the Morristown Fiber Fairy. This unknown group of fiber artists make hats, scarves, and mittens for the poor and homeless of Morristown and decorates the statues on the green with these items for anyone who is in need. Do you know how to do home repairs or carpentry? The Walpack Historical Society works hard to preserve multiple buildings in Walpack. Do you have a flair for creating interesting product displays or have great organizational skills? Check out the Trinity Thrift Shop that supports Trinity Church in Hackettstown.

There’s always a way you can help. Find a way that works best for you.

A Want for Italian Immigration History Education

New Jersey is home to one of the largest collection of Americans of Italian descent in the entire country. Yet, if you ask any child if they learn about this important part of history, they would know very little. Luckily, there’s a solution to the problem.

A few years ago, the Italian-American Heritage Commission developed a full curriculum covering just this subject. “The Universality of Italian Heritage” curriculum is an infusion model which integrates Italian and Italian American cultural heritage throughout all content areas K-16. Ongoing professional development is provided to public, religious, private and charter schools statewide and beyond, as well as to colleges and universities at the undergraduate level.

This program includes extensive resources to teach about everything from the Roman Empire’s influence on the rule of law, to Leonardo DaVinci’s place in the arts and sciences, to Pinocchio’s role in literature.

New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission

It took a long time to develop this curriculum. The commission was first created by law in 2002 as a way to build up the state’s Italian heritage and dispel negative stereotypes. It is part of a long line of commissions in New Jersey with specific curriculum missions, including one for the Holocaust and another for African-American history.

“We are confident that The Universality of Italian Heritage will open the door to an educationally stimulating and rewarding experience for teachers and students throughout the country,” said Cav. Gilda Rorro Baldassari, Ed.D., who chairs the NJIHC Curriculum Development Committee. “Italy, through its art, philosophy, innovation and culture, heavily influenced and accelerated the development of the modern world, so it seems fitting that we use Italian heritage as a catalyst to create more enriching curricula for every student.”

Now I will fully admit I have no idea if this curriculum is being used currently. I know of two schools in New Jersey that have used it in the past – Little Egg Harbor and Nottingham High School in Hamilton. Additionally, I know schools are filled with state requirements, standardized test prep, and testing. Personally, I have always thought schools should teach the heritage of all our immigrants, as New Jersey is a melting pot full of ethnic pride and heritage.

Hopefully schools and civic groups will take full advantage of this curriculum and teach the full history of all Italians have contributed to the building of local communities, our state, and our nation. They need to go beyond the stereotypes of Jersey Shore and The Sopranos in order to get to who we truly are as a people.

Italian Heritage Month 2022

I always heard a saying growing up. “There are two types of people. Italians and people that wish they were Italian.”

I agree completely.

We grow up around three main concepts. Faith, family, and food. Sundays were extra special. We would start the day at church. Then head to the cemetery to plant flowers and clean the headstones. When I was older I got the job of picking up bread and pastries for dinner. Then there was a intoxicating aroma of Grandma’s Sunday gravy with meatballs and sausage. Long dinners sitting with family with the “kids” at the card table. The fact that I was still at the kid’s table even after I was married never really bothered me. After dinner was time to play cards, read the paper, or play a board game.

Italian heritage month

We learned to love our heritage, but remember we were Americans first. We pass down recipes, love, and pride.

We also don’t take ourselves too seriously. Sometimes to a fault.

We know how to laugh at ourselves. As a result, many others think it is okay to laugh at our expense.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. It is not okay.

We aren’t the dumb, mobsters you see in movies and on television. We aren’t the fist-pumping idiots from Jersey Shore. We aren’t hot heads that throw dishes. Let’s face it. We are the last ethnicity that is not only okay to stereotype. It is encouraged by Hollywood and the media.

I hope you will go on this journey with me this month as I share some of what is wonderful about Italian heritage.

Viva Italia!

9/11: Twenty-One Years Later

“Where were you on 9/11?”

For those of us who were witnesses to history, we remember every minute of that day. We can describe in detail every moment and every feeling.

If you put that question to an entirely new generation, they have no answer. They weren’t born.

Just like if someone asked me where I was during the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., President Kennedy or the attack on Pearl Harbor. I wasn’t alive. The generations that were witnesses to those events had an obligation to those who came after them to make those events more than just pages in a history book.

And they did.

9/11/2021 Eagle Rock, Essex County, NJ
A photo I took at Eagle Rock on 9/11/2021

My family would tell me how they felt. What they did. The days of crying. The actions they took. For the men, they told me about their time fighting in World War II. They made it a living history. And I thank them for it.

We now have that same responsibility for this generation and the ones that continue to be born. They can’t know 9/11 as just pages in a history book. There’s an oral history that needs to be shared. Those emotions, as painful as they may be, must be shared. We have an obligation to keep it a living history, just as the generations before us did for those critical moments in our nation’s history.

Tomorrow I am meeting a few colleagues at the 9/11 memorial in Morris Plains where our company used to stand. It is in memory of two of our colleagues and the sister of another colleague who all perished on that day. The company is sadly long gone, but the memorial remains. We are making a conscious decision to not forget. To meet in our sadness and remember. It makes me wonder how many small memorials like this there are around the country. Every year when I visit if there is someone nearby, I ask them, “did you know there’s a 9/11 memorial here? No? Let me show you.”

9/11 Memorial, 301 Gibraltar Drive, Morris Plains, NJ
The 9/11 Memorial at 301 Gibraltar Drive in Morris Plains.

So if you were a witness to one of the darkest days in American history, take the obligation to pass on your personal experience and impressions of the day to those who weren’t alive or were too young to remember.

Don’t let this day just turn into a date on the calendar or a page in a history book. We owe it to those who lost their lives on that day and the countless first responders who have lost their lives since that day due to illnesses related to their work at Ground Zero.

We promised to Never Forget. Take that promise seriously.

Fourth Grade and New Jersey History

As the school year begins, I think back to growing up in Belleville and starting school in September. I have many wonderful memories of that time. In sixth grade I was part of the school patrol and guarded the kindergarten door. In middle school, I accompanied the chorus on piano for the first time. In high school I spent most of my time in the band room, where I felt at home.

But two great memories, believe it or not, took place in fourth grade with Miss Stackfleth at School Seven. She was an incredibly hard teacher and she scared most of us kids half to death with her strict ways and her paragraph-long sentences she would hand out as punishment if you did something wrong. However, she did begin to instill two important traits in me; my love of country and my love of New Jersey.

New Jersey state flag
The New Jersey State Flag was adopted in 1896. (Credit: state.nj.us)

Every morning we would begin our day with the Flag Salute, like every other classroom. We would then continue our show of patriotism with the singing of a song. She played piano and had one in her classroom. Each day a different song would be selected and she would teach us the words and melody. In short order we learned several songs like This Land is Your Land and You’re a Grand Ol’ Flag. I still remember the words to many of those songs today. And I thank her for sharing them with us.

When it comes to my love of New Jersey, that took the entire school year. When I was in the fourth grade, which was a long time ago, history class was focused on New Jersey history. I remember it starting with “what do you think our state looks like?” We had answers like “a seahorse” and “the letter S.” It moved on from there. We learned about the Lenni Lenape tribe, our state’s important role in the Revolutionary War, it’s rich agricultural history, and more. It gave me an appreciation for an area beyond my neighborhood on Irving Street.

Ever since, my love of New Jersey has only grown. Yes, there are a lot of annoying things about our state; the traffic, high taxes, and don’t even get me started on the politics. But there are plenty more things to love. Like how you can enjoy the Atlantic Ocean, the Flatbrook River, living American history in Morristown, and awesome Italian food in my hometown of Belleville. We have a rich and wonderful state. I hope children are still learning about it. And I have Mrs. Stackfleth to thank for it. The teacher that actually terrified me.

National New Jersey Day

This week we celebrated National New Jersey Day. Yes, that’s right. There’s an official day to nationally celebrate New Jersey.

There are plenty of reasons to celebrate New Jersey and I thought I would share some interesting facts about our awesome state, which officially became a state in 1776.

New Jersey State Seal
The New Jersey State Seal (source: state.nj.us)

First of all, we are known as “The Garden State” thanks to Abraham Browning. He bestowed the nickname in 1897, the state was full of garden and farmers, and agriculture was the predominant occupation at that time. While many joke it is better known as “The Mall State” now, if you head to the western part of the state, you will still see plenty of farmland.

The state’s seal was created by Pierre Eugene du Simitiere in 1777 and contains five symbols, each of which represents something about New Jersey. The helmet and the horse’s head crest represent New Jersey’s independence as a state. They also represent New Jersey’s status as one of the first states. In 1787 New Jersey was the third state to sign the U.S. Constitution. The woman holding a staff with a liberty cap on top is Liberty, who represents freedom. In ancient Rome, former Roman slaves saw a liberty cap as a badge of freedom. Liberty caps became popular again during the Revolutionary War. The woman on the right is the Roman goddess of grain, Ceres, and holds a cornucopia, filled with the many fruits and vegetables produced in New Jersey. The three plows on the shield symbolize the agricultural tradition of New Jersey. The state’s motto “Liberty and Prosperity” is written on the scroll.

The eastern brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) is native to northeastern North America and being so, was designated in 1992 as the State Fish of New Jersey. Based on results of a genetic-research study conducted in 2008 by NJDFW, it was been determined that wild book trout in New Jersey are descendants of the native species that colonized this area of the northeast following deglaciation about 12,000 years ago. It is an incredibly beautiful fish and my favorite fish of all marine life. It is also known as an “indicator species,” meaning brook trout only survive in the cleanest, most pure water. So if you see a brook trout in the water, known that is some of the cleanest waterway in the state.

The state tree is the Red Oak, a perfect choice for New Jersey because it is just like us. Tough, strong, and durable.

New Jersey is one of the top blueberry producers in the country and blueberries were the top crop in New Jersey for 2020 with a production value of $85 million, according to the USDA. Farmers in the Garden State harvested 46 million pounds of blueberries on 9,300 acres last year.

Farmland on the way to Frenchtown

New Jersey played a pivotal role in our nation’s fight for independence from the British. More than 100 battles took place in New Jersey. In 1776, crossing the Delaware River into Trenton; George Washington fought with, and ultimately defeated the British forces. This was one of the first major victories in the Revolutionary War. Morristown National Historical Park 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. The park also maintains a museum & library collection related to the encampments & George Washington, as well as items relating to pre- and post-Revolutionary America.

We here in New Jersey have plenty to be proud of and love when it comes to our great state. For those who “think” they know us by what they see when they land at Newark Airport or some horrible television show about a bunch of idiots from New York and elsewhere, well, we know better.

The True Story Behind Jaws

Today begins the much anticipated Shark Week on Discovery. I’ve always been fascinated by marine wildlife. Fascination, along with a healthy dose of respect. That respect first came from the movie Jaws; one of my favorite all-time movies.

What many do not know is Peter Benchley’s inspiration for the book upon which the movie is based was a week of terror that took place off the coast of New Jersey in 1916. It is briefly mentioned in the movie as Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) and Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) try to convince Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) the shark terrorizing the waters of Amity island actually exists and they should close the beach.

Chief Brody (Roy Scheider), Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), and Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton)

Michael Capuzzo’s Close to Shore is an incredible non-fiction account of the harrowing days in 1916 when a Great White shark attacked swimmers along the Jersey shore, triggering mass hysteria and launching an extensive shark hunt. This is an incredible read that has been meticulously researched. These attacks were the first documented shark attacks in the country and for individuals who just recently discovered the benefits of “sunbathing,” learning there were creatures in the ocean that could kill children simply enjoying the water was shocking.

So as you are watching Shark Week, I highly recommend you check out Close to Shore and learn how New Jersey played an important part in the history of shark attacks, research, and lore. And maybe as I do, have a healthy respect for marine life while you enjoy your time in the water.

New Jersey: The Cradle of Independence

When many think about Independence Day, they often think of places like Boston or Philadelphia. The truth is, New Jersey played an incredibly important role in the birth of our nation. There are plenty of great events throughout the long weekend of celebrate the holiday! Here are some of events that are taking place over the weekend.

Morristown National Historical Park

Morristown National Historical Park, where America survived, will celebrate our Declaration of Independence with July Fourth activities beginning at Noon on the park’s Washington’s Headquarters grounds, 30 Washington Place, with a “Warm-Up for the Declaration” followed by the reading of the Declaration.

The “Warm-Up” will feature a park ranger in period clothing entertaining the crowd and giving a “kids level” explanation of the Declaration. Eighteenth-century stories, jokes, and riddles are all part of the fun.

At 1pm, the “Public Reading of the Declaration of Independence” will commence. Attendees will be encouraged to cheer along with park rangers and re-enactors as they denounce tyranny and praise liberty. After the reading, attendees are welcome to participate in a mock salute called a feu de joie (musket salute).

Following the reading of the Declaration, the Ford Mansion will be open for self-guided tours with re-enactors in period dress, bringing life to the mansion once again.

Ford Mansion
Ford Mansion, image circa 1930. Credit: National Park Service

Visitors are asked to bring water to drink and a chair or a blanket to sit on the ground and are reminded to dress appropriately for the weather, including wearing a hat and sunscreen. It is a rain-or-shine event. Due to limited parking, guests are encouraged to carpool or walk to the event.

All activities will occur at the Washington Headquarters area and are free. The Jockey Hollow Visitor Center and Wick House will be closed on July 4th, but Jockey Hollow’s roads, grounds, and trails will be open.

Cape May Coast Guard Sunset Parade

U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May; Sunday, July 3 at 7:40 p.m.

Sunset Parades are free military displays of marching troops and the Coast Guard Recruit Ceremonial Drill Team. The recruit regiment will march in the parade and strike the National Ensign from the parade field at sunset.

The gates to the training center will open at 6:30 p.m., and visitors are asked to be seated by 7:40 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to use this extra time for security screening, parking, and seating.

Avalon: Bay Atlantic Symphony Independence Day Concert

Avalon Community Center, 3001 Avalon Ave, Avalon; July 3 at 7 p.m.

This free symphony fills fast, so be sure to get there a bit early if you want a seat! Those who don’t have a seat can still watch in the standing room section. Come see a fantastic symphony play a patriotic set.

Princeton: Morven Museum & Garden Fourth of July Jubilee

55 Stockton Street, Princeton; July 4th — 12pm to 3pm

Check out Morven on Independence Day for their Fourth of July Jubilee, a free celebration of our American heritage at the home-turned-museum of Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

This year will will also feature the museum’s current exhibition, Ma Bell: The Mother of Invention in New Jersey, which features the original TelStar satellite and so many other technological innovations made right here in New Jersey that affected the entire world for generations.

Wall Township: Historic American Flag Collection at Allaire

Come celebrate the Fourth of July at Allaire! Allaire’s rare one-of-a-kind historic American flag collection on display this weekend only!

Your ticket includes admission (which by the way is only $5) to the Chapel to see Allaire’s unique and one-of-a-kind American flag collection on display this weekend ONLY! There will be over five historic flags on exhibition (rare and one of a kind!), the oldest flag dating back c. 1850 and authenticated by the Smithsonian Institute!

To visit the historic village, experience early 19th century industrial community life, and explore the village grounds EAST of the Mill Pond, a ticket for General Admission is from 11am-4pm.

In purchasing your General Admission Ticket, you will be able to see our historic trades in action including our blacksmiths and tinsmiths as well as tour our period homes to see how each class in the village lived. All of this in addition to other themed pop up tours and demonstrations are all available to you when you visit The Historic Village at Allaire! There are great events scheduled throughout the month, so it is definitely worth a visit!

Oxford: Celebration of Independence & Museum Day at Shippen Manor

Shippen Manor, 8 Belvidere Avenue, Oxford; July 3; 11am – 4pm

The newly formed United States Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence in the morning of a bright and sunny day. John Dunlap printed the Declaration (known as “Dunlap Broadsides”). There are twenty-four known copies, two of which are in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. One of these was George Washington’s personal copy.

Beginning at 11 a.m., the Colonial Musketeers Junior Fife & Drum Corps of Hackettstown will begin our celebration with music from the era.

At 11:30 a.m., the Bachmann Players of Easton, PA will commemorate our celebration with readings and other activities that preceded the actual reading of the Declaration. The reading will begin promptly at 12 noon (the same time as the 1776 reading in Easton, PA).

Following the reading, the Colonial Musketeers Junior Fife & Drum Corps will entertain our visitors with colonial-era music until 1 p.m., when the museum will open for tours.

And plenty more!

Now let’s be honest; right now we are a divided country. There are probably many out there that don’t feel much like celebrating. I say not true.

Stick with me for a moment.

The founders of this great nation ensured the right for us to disagree with each other, and more importantly, to disagree with our government. To peacefully assemble and voice our concerns. This experiment in democracy has been challenged over the centuries. I use the following example:

The more populous and wealthy the United States have become, and the higher the position to which they have risen in the scale of national importance, with the greater confidence has it been maintained, on the one hand, that our institutions rest on a solid and permanent basis, and on the other, that they are destitute of inherent strength and cohesion, and that the time of explosion and disruption is rapidly approaching.

The previous quote is from New-York Daily Tribune, November 27, 1860.

We’ve been pushed and challenged before and we have survived. Sometimes bruised. But we are still here. I implore everyone to remember that we will do the same again.

Almost every community will have events this weekend, so I encourage you to get out and enjoy!

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.

Get Out!

Yesterday my husband and I took advantage of the surprisingly warm weather and took a ride to an area of Sussex County we’ve been wanting to explore for quite awhile.

I can’t tell you how happy we did.

If you aren’t a fan of the winter (like us), it is easy to just hibernate and wait for the weather to get above your age. When we heard the weather would be above freezing, we decided to make the effort to actually step outside. What we discovered is an area of Sussex County almost frozen in time with open space and houses that predate the Revolutionary War.

1977 map of New Jersey (source: Rutgers Special Collections)

We met someone who was quite knowledgeable about the area and owned an amazing home built in 1791. He freely shared information about the area and his ongoing effort to preserve as much of his property and the town’s history buildings. The town’s historical society works hard to preserve and educate on the area, from the time of the Lenapehoking to present day.

So why am I telling you all this and why am I not saying where we went? Simple. I want you to GET OUT! Grab a map (yes, a printed map) and take a ride. Is there an area in the state you’ve always wanted to visit? Plan a ride into your unknown. Visit the local historical society and ask questions. Patron their locally-owned shops and restaurants. Even consider joining their historical society (or at least make a donation).

I promise you; you’ll be happy you did!