Hoffa & Jersey: Perfect Together

“New Jersey and you… perfect together.” ~Governor Tom Kean

I remember seeing that commercial often growing up. It was a wonderful sentiment. Unfortunately, it turned into the tail end of a lot of jokes. From taxes to traffic, Jersey was perfect with a lot of things. Includes Jimmy Hoffa.

I grew up hearing the rumor he was a speed bump at Giants Stadium. That he had to be moved when the original stadium started to be built. Then, according to the book “I hear you paint houses,” Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran claimed to be the bagman who rubbed Hoffa out. However, when the house where he claimed the murder took place was searched, the DNA found did not match that of Hoffa.

Most recently, Phillip Moscato, Jr. said hitman Salvatore “Sally Bugs” Briguglio was the one who killed Hoffa. Moscato Jr. is the son of Phillip “Brother” Moscato, Sr., a Genovese crime family powerhouse in New Jersey who died of liver cancer in 2014 at the age of 79. Moscato, Sr. took the Fifth while testifying before the federal grand jury after Hoffa’s disappearance. A 1972 FBI Report described Moscaro Sr. as “one of the top loan sharks in Hudson and Bergen counties.”

A 1964 photo of Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa outside the federal courthouse in Chattanooga. (Credit: Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP, File)

Federal investigators have long stated that Hoffa was murdered in Detroit when he disappeared on July 30th, 1975, and was reportedly transported to New Jersey by the Genovese crime family. It is believed that he was buried in the large dump that Moscato’s father owned in Jersey City, the PJP Landfill, known as “Moscato’s dump.” But Phil says that after one of his father’s mafia cohorts flipped and cooperated with the FBI in November of 1975, four months after Hoffa vanished, the body was moved so that authorities would not discover it.

That claim seems to have new life as the FBI has recently searched the PJP Landfill below the Pulaski Skyway. This search is related to interviews given by Frank Cappola, who was a teenager in the 1970s and worked at the old PJP Landfill in Jersey City with his father, Paul Cappola. Cappola said his dying father explained in 2008 how Hoffa’s body was delivered to the landfill in 1975, placed in a steel drum and buried with other barrels, bricks and dirt, according to reports from The New York Times and Fox News.

Frank Cappola spoke to Fox Nation and journalist Dan Moldea before he died in 2020 and signed a document with his father’s detailed story. So, out went the FBI… again. In late October of this year, the FBI searched the landfill. There’s no confirmation whether or not the FBI removed anything from the location.

So it seems Hoffa and Jersey will be perfect together for a little bit longer.

The Official Jersey Bucket List – Part Two

After the publishing of my “Official Jersey Bucket List,” I received many requests for a part two. I will admit as soon as I published it, I continued to come up with more ideas. There is so much to see in New Jersey, it is almost impossible to include it all in one list.

Let’s face it, in light of the Coronavirus outbreak, many of us will staycation this summer, so why not turn into a Jersey tourist for a day and check out some of our great places right outside your front door! Some are currently open, while others aren’t quite there just yet. But that’s OK, as you will have plenty ideas as the summer continues. Here are some more ideas in my “Official Jersey Bucket List – Part Two.”

Visit a public farm: While many refer to Jersey as “The Mall State,” we are officially known as “The Garden State.” From the top of the state to the bottom, there are public farms, wineries, nurseries, and “pick your own” options available. I recommend you check out Hillcrest Orchard & Dairy in Branchville, the home of Jersey Girl Cheese.

Visit one of our great museums: In 2018, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City put in place a mandatory entrance fee of $25 for non-New York residents. Up until now, The Met’s entrance fee was by “suggested donation,” which made it accessible for all. Now it will be far from that for many. I can’t tell you how much this ticked me off. However, it was a good reminder that there are MANY great museums right here in New Jersey! I recommend you check out the Newark Museum, our largest museum in the state, which opened in 1909. A personal favorite of mine is the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts, which focuses on 18th- and 19th- century craftsmen and artisans. If you are looking for something outside, visit the Grounds for Sculpture, which opened in 1992. It is a 42-acre sculpture park, museum, and arboretum founded on the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds. These are just three museums in our great state. There is at least one museum in every county, so no matter where you live, there’s a museum nearby.

Check out the Jersey music scene: Bands like Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes are known for that “Jersey sound.” What some may not know is that the sound is actually something we all know from the shore – the Calliope. Listen to the keyboard of those bands and see if your memory brings you back to The pipe organ and drum sound from the merry-go-round you couldn’t wait to ride when you were a child. Of course The Stone Pony is a Jersey icon, but there are plenty other music venues in the state. Check out the Count Basie Center for the Arts.

Visit Ellis Island: New Jersey has one of the most diverse immigrant populations in the country. And while New York thinks they “own” Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, they are actually in Jersey waters. Ellis Island is a National Park and offers an amazing amount of information about the story of immigration in the United States. Trace your family history in their genealogy database and you can even add your family information to the story of the Island.

Go to Fort Hancock: Another great National Park in New Jersey is Sandy Hook. While many people head to Sandy Hook just for the beach, there is a lot more to do on the over 4,000 acres of land that comprise the park. This piece of land has played a significant part of American History going back to the 1700s. One part of Sandy Hook is Fort Hancock. In 1895, the U.S. Army renamed the “Fortifications at Sandy Hook” as Fort Hancock. The installation would protect New York Harbor from invasion by sea. Its yellow brick buildings were constructed largely between 1898-1910, with the fort reaching its peak population in World War II. There is now a push on to preserve these old buildings that are, unfortunately, beginning to crumble. Hopefully, they will continue to persevere.

Visit the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park: Located in-between New York City and Philadelphia, New Jersey was able to play a part of the industrial revolution during the early 19th century. How? Through the Delaware & Raritan Canal (known as the D&R). In 1834, the D&R was officially open for business and was one of the busiest navigation canals in the United States. Its peak years were in the mid to late 1800s, primarily moving tons of Pennsylvania coal. By the end of the 19th century, canal use was declining throughout the country. In 1973, the canal and its remaining structures were entered on the National Register of Historic Places. It is now a beautiful place to fish, hike and bike along the 70 miles of the canal.

Visit Walpack, but please be respectful: Officially founded in 1731, the Dutch lived on the land known as “Wallpack” as early as the mid-1600s. The of the town’s name comes from the Lenape Native American content word “wahlpeck,” which means “turn-hole (eddy or whirlpool). It is not considered a “ghost town,” as about 20 residents still call Walpack home. The town is located within the confines of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The town has a sad history since the 1970s that includes a failed national project, eminent domain, vandalism, looting, and fires intentionally set. Many are afraid one day what is left of the town will be gone. During the lockdown, vandals broke into several buildings and left behind an incredible amount of damage. If you are so inclined, consider joining their historical society to help repair what was damaged. If you know anything about the damage, please contact NPS Dispatch at 570-426-2457. It is a beautiful place, but if you visit, please be respectful of the history of the town and its residents. Take only photos and leave only footprints.

I hope you enjoyed this “part two” of my official Jersey bucket list and it provides you with more ways to enjoy your staycation in our wonderful state!

A Tale of Three Falcons

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

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

Falcon-6-21-19

The remaining female eyase at 101 Hudson Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Memorial Day Events in New Jersey

MemorialDayMemorial Day – generally considered the unofficial kick-off to summer, many attend BBQs or head down the shore. Others look to buy a new car. Well, it is important to remember the real reason we can enjoy a long weekend – those who gave their lives for this great country.

I wanted to provide some opportunities to remember those brave men and women around New Jersey. I hope you will consider attending an event in your area.

MAHWAH
“Serving God & Country: A Memorial Day Salute to Our Heroes,” outdoor Mass hosted by Archdiocese of Newark, 11 a.m. Monday, Maryrest Cemetery and Mausoleum, 770 Darlington Ave. rcancem.org or (888) 489-9095.

BELLEVILLE (I used to participate in the Belleville events when I was in the high school marching band)
Veterans Memorial Day Services, 9 a.m. service Monday at Glendale Cemetery, followed by 9:30 a.m. wreath tossing at Rutgers Street Bridge, 10 a.m. service at Rutgers Street Church Cemetery, 10:30 a.m. service at Belleville Town Hall, and concluding with ceremony at Belleville Veterans Memorial. bellevillenj.org or (973) 450-3300.

GLEN RIDGE
Memorial Day Parade and Service, march beginning 11 a.m. Monday at Sherman Avenue and Baldwin Street and proceeding to the memorial in front of Ridgewood Avenue School for a traditional service followed by town picnic at the train station with food, amusements and live music; in event of rain, the service will be in the school auditorium. (973) 680-4710.

SOUTH ORANGE
Memorial Day Service, observance 10:30 a.m. Monday at Memorial Rock near the duck pond, 10:30 a.m. Monday, Meadowland Park, North Ridgewood Road and Mead Street. (973) 378-7754.

WOODBURY
In addition to its regular visits to Woodbury’s war memorials, American Legion Post 133 will, along with the city and county, host a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 25, in honor of New Jersey’s POW/MIA troops in Vietnam.

The vigil will also include “missing man” and wreath ceremonies, as well as a ringing bell for the name of each missing soldier. It will take place outside the Woodbury American Legion, at 1018 Washington Ave.

GLASSBORO
The annual Memorial Day parade will begin at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Lehigh Road and University Boulevard, then proceed onto High Street toward borough hall.

The annual ceremony will follow the parade at the Veterans Memorial Monument, adjacent to the firehouse on High Street, at noon. New Jersey Gold Star Mothers President Judi Trapper, of Atco, will be the guest speaker.

BAYONNE
A Memorial Day service will take place on Sunday at 10:45 a.m. at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, 39 E. 22nd St. After the service, ceremonies will be held in front of the memorial at Stephen R. Gregg/Bayonne County Park.

Following a noon Mass at St. Henry Church, 645 Avenue C, all the veterans’ monuments on First Street will be decorated at 1:30 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church, 91 West 23rd St., will hold a Mass to commemorate the deceased members of the Catholic War Veterans Post 1612 on Monday at 8 a.m.

The Bayonne Memorial Day parade will take place on Monday beginning with a ceremony at 10 a.m. at Fifth and Dodge streets. The parade will march up Broadway to 32nd Street. Immediately following, attendees will hold a commemoration at the American Legion Post, 683 Broadway.

WEEHAWKEN
The Weehawken Memorial Day parade on Monday will begin at Gregory and Highpoint avenues at 9:30 a.m. The parade will head through town and end at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, located between El Dorado and Hudson Place on Boulevard East, where a ceremony will take place at 11 a.m.

EWING
The Ewing Township Patriotic Committee will conduct its Memorial Day ceremony at Maj. Gen. Betor Veterans Memorial Park at 11 a.m. The program will be conducted by retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Dutko, assisted by Lt. Col. Robert Schofield and Chief Warrant Officer Kenneth Langer. Ewing police Sgt. David LaBaw will play bagpipes along with the Ewing Township Police firing detail, color guards from the Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 7298, American Legion Post 314 and the New Jersey National Guard and a Dove release by Karen Cox. Pavers will be dedicated at the U.S. Air Force Memorial at the end of the ceremony.

MANALAPAN
Memorial Day Parade and Observances, march beginning 2 p.m. Monday at the Manalapan Municipal Complex and traveling down Route 522 (Tennent Avenue) to Englishtown, turning right on Main Street and ending at the American Legion Post 434, 11 Sanford St. (732) 446-9872.

BOONTON
Memorial Day Services, 11 a.m. Monday, Boonton Town Hall, Community Room, Washington Street. boonton.org or (973) 402-7387.

DENVILLE
Memorial Day Parade, marching 10 a.m. Monday from Menaugh Avenue and East Main Street to Denville Cemetery for services; in case of rain, services only will be held at 10 a.m. at town hall. thedenvillehub.com or (201) 736-2540.

BARNEGAT LIGHT
Memorial Day Ceremony, service featuring the Emerald Society Bagpipe Band, 6 p.m. Sunday, Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, Broadway off Long Beach Boulevard. stateparks.com/barnegat_lighthouse.html or (609) 494-2016.

LITTLE EGG HARBOR
Memorial Day Parade, beginning 10 a.m. Monday on Radio Road, followed by ceremonies at the Pulaski Monument. leht.com or (609) 296-7241, ext. 221.

TOMS RIVER
Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony, march 9:30 a.m. Monday hosted by American Legion Post 129, proceeding from Office Lounge south on Main Street, left on Washington Street and concluding with ceremony in front of town hall. tomsrivertownship.com or (732) 255-9250.

Hopatcong
Memorial Day Parade, beginning10 a.m. Saturday at borough hall, 111 River Styx Road, and ending at Veteran’s Park off Flora Avenue for ceremonies. hopatcong.org or (973) 770-1200.

Hackettstown
Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony, march beginning 9:30 a.m. Monday near post office on Washington Street and continuing to Grand Avenue and Main Street, ending at Union Cemetery on Mountain Avenue, with services by the American Legion at Union Cemetery and reception at the post home on Willow Grove Street. hackettstown.net or (908) 850-5004.

If there is an event in your area that is not listed, please add it in the comments section or my Facebook page. Thank you for remembering our vets who gave their all!

“The Swamps of Jersey” – The Meadowlands

“And my tires were slashed and I almost crashed but for Lord-have-mercy. And my machine she’s a dud, all stuck in the mud, somewhere in the swamps of Jersey” ~Bruce Springsteen

NJ Meadowlands

Photo credit: nj.com

Those swamps of Jersey are known as The Meadowlands, just outside MetLife Stadium and the Izod Center (what was referred to as Giants Stadium and the Area growing up) and despite their bad rap  in movies and by the NFL’s negative opinions regarding the upcoming Super Bowl, the ecosystem has made great strides in recent years and deserve great respect.

It was referred to as “The Meadows” by original Dutch Settlers in the 1600s and was full of white cedar, the Hackensack River flows through the area the Lenape people called the land Lenapakoking and they called the river Atchensehaky – the “River of Many Bends.”

Since then, there have been many changes to the area, including the creation of dam systems and pollution, which pushed the area to the brink. Luckily, the in 1980s, conservation groups came together to try and save what was left of this natural resource. Today, the Hackensack Riverkeeper and other organizations work hard to continue to preserve and improve “The Meadowlands.”

Right now, all eyes are on the upcoming game that will take place in frigid temperatures. However, there is much more to this special area that offers eco-tours, estuary education programs, paddling tours, birding, and more. I hope you check out this amazing wetlands that is making a great comeback!