End-of-Year Gift Giving in New Jersey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why I love New Jersey

My husband and I were watching a television show about real estate in Montana. One couple was planning a move from California to Montana. Now, when most people think of Big Sky Country, they imagine the open prairie, cowboys, and wood cabins. Instead of embracing the lifestyle, they were trying to shoehorn California living into their new house. They obviously shouldn’t have left California. That’s where their heart is.

That’s kind of like how I feel about New Jersey.

Frankford-Cemetery

Frankford Cemetery in black and white by Lisaann VanBlarcom Permunian.

I am often asked a simple question. “Why would you EVER want to stay in New Jersey?”

When my husband and I were married there very were few things that were non-negotiable. One of those non-negotiable items is that I would NEVER move out of New Jersey.

“Why?”

New Jersey is my home. I was born in Columbus Hospital in Newark and spent over 30 years in Belleville. When a move needed to take place, we stayed close by in Nutley until we could decide on our next move. While it may sound crazy, going to the next town over from Belleville was tough. I also felt like I had betrayed my beloved Belleville by moving to our rival town. Two years later, we moved again. Instead of town-to-town, we moved county-to-county. Again, I almost had a nervous breakdown.

As my regular readers know, I don’t deal well with change. I know people who have moved across the country and half-way around the world. Me? I move from Essex County to Morris County and I could barely handle it. I’m a Jersey Girl through and through. I would’ve been very happy to stay in my house on Irving Street for the rest of my life.

Where else can you be at an awesome beach and then the mountains within a two hour drive

Rutt's Hut

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

in the same state? Have the best REAL Italian and REAL Portuguese cooking in the same city? I can go fly fishing in Walpack or grab a cheese steak at Seaside Heights. You want a great deep fried hot dog? I know the place. Oh, and I don’t pump my own gas.

Some people see Newark Airport and the Turnpike. Me? I see important places that played key roles in the birth of our nation. We are tough. If you are from Jersey, you need to be tough to fight off all the stupid stereotypes from those horrible television shows which I will not name.

So will I travel? Sure. But I will always come home to my New Jersey.

New Jersey and Independence Day

Ford Mansion

Independence Day is a day for great American pride. What you may not know is that New Jersey played a pivotal role in the Revolutionary War. If you want to celebrate our independence in a patriotic way, check out some of these locations and events.

Ford Mansion

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

Morristown: This may be one of the most well-known locations in the Revolutionary War in New Jersey. Morristown is home to Washington’s Headquarters and Jockey Hollow. Historic Ford Mansion was home to General Washington’s military headquarters for six months during the winter of 1779-80. Despite the extreme winter, Washington was able to hold his army together and continue the fight for freedom. The national park consists of four non-contiguous units including the Washington’s Headquarters Unit, the Fort Nonsense Unit, the Jockey Hollow Unit, and the New Jersey Brigade Area. The park features two original structures, the Ford Mansion in Morristown and the Wick House in Jockey Hollow. Soldiers camped at Jockey Hollow until June, 1780. There is an encampment at the site with reenactors to educate visitors on what soldiers endured while onsite. There are approximately 27 miles of walking trails in the Jockey Hollow Unit.

Sandy Hook: Built in 1764, the Sandy Hook Lighthouse is the oldest standing lighthouse in the country. At one point during the war, there was talk about destroying the lighthouse so it wouldn’t fall into the hands of the British. Major William Malcolm received orders in a letter dated March 6, 1776 to “take the glass out of the lantern, and save it if possible; but if you find this impracticable you will break the glass. You will also endeavor to pump the oil out of the cisterns into casks, or not being able to procure casks, you will pump it out onto the ground. In short, you will use your best discretion to render the lighthouse entirely useless.” Less than three months later, the British had the lighthouse repaired and back in operation and would remain under British control for most of the war.

Princeton: On January 3, 1777, Princeton Battlefield transformed into the site of what is considered to be the fiercest fight of its size during the American Revolution. During the battle, American troops under General Washington surprised and defeated a force of British soldiers. The Battle of Princeton gave Washington his first victory against the British on the field. With the victory at Princeton, morale rose in the American ranks and more men began to enlist in the army.

Battle of Second River

Battle of Second River market. Credit: Anthony Buccino/Bellevillesons.com

Belleville: Of course I must include my beloved home town of Belleville, known as Second River during the Revolutionary War. The Battle of Second River in Belleville was fought from Sept. 12 through Sept. 14, 1777. It was the only battle fought in Essex County during the American Revolution. The cemetery alongside the Belleville Dutch Reformed Church holds the bodies of 66 Revolutionary War Patriots.

Hopewell Township/Titusville: These two town names may not sound familiar, but trust me they are incredibly important to our nation’s fight for freedom. This area is the location of Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware. On December 25, 1776, the Continental Army had little to celebrate that Christmas and seemed beat by hunger and cold. After crossing the rough winter river at night, General George Washington and the Continental Army landed at Johnson’s Ferry, at the site now known as Washington Crossing State Park. At 4 am, they began their march to Trenton where they defeated the Hessian troops in an unexpected attack. This battle was quickly followed by the Second Battle of Trenton on January 2, 1777, and the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777.

These are just a few of the important historical locations in New Jersey. I hope you take time to check them out.

Bald Eagle Rescue in Tuckerton

This past week, local residents, wildlife enthusiasts, the Mercer County Wildlife Center, Tri-State Bird Rescue, and Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager came together in a tricky bald eagle rescue attempt. You can watch the amazing rescue video and read the entire story on the Conserve Wildlife Blog.

On Tuesday, February 17th, the call came in that two bald eagles were stuck in a tree and appeared to be injured. A local resident on the scene knew someone who worked for AC Electric who had a truck with a cherry picker on it. Ben went up in the cherry picker to rescue the two eagles. Unfortunately, one had already died, but their talons were interlocked and they were precariously hanging from a tree limb.

Ben wound up using a hand saw to cut the limb to bring down the two eagles. It took three grown men to get the talons separated in order to save the remaining live eagle. Ben then transported the eagle to the Mercer County Wildlife Center and met with Director Diane Nickerson.

Dr. Erica Miller, a leading expert in bald eagle care and rehabilitation, sutured up a wound on the bird’s leg and found several fractures in the other leg. The bird was treated and transported to Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, Inc. in Delaware for further care.

While this story doesn’t have a happy ending, it does show the lengths New Jerseyans will go to protect our precious wildlife.

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!

Keeping up with Hamilton’s history

The following is a reprint of Tom Glover’s column on Nj.com

Kuser Farm Mansion

Kuser Farm Mansion. Credit: Nj.com

The Hamilton Township Public Library’s Local History website is approaching the 750,000 visits! Since its inception in 2005, the site has grown to more than 8,000 “pages” or posts as they are called. To those who are on the computer, access can be gained by entering http://glover320.blogspot.com/ in the “URL” space on your computer.

Visitors from all over the country, and indeed a number from around the globe, are visiting on a daily basis to see some of the incredibly interesting photos and articles from our 100-plus year collection of various hard-bound Trenton Evening Times, Daily True American, Sunday Times Advertiser, and Daily State Gazette newspapers, along with many other sources in the digital archives.

FOR LOVERS OF LOCAL HISTORY
The upcoming 2014-2015 season will see the Historical Society of Hamilton bringing local history subjects to area residents at their monthly meetings which begin on March 3, 2014. Past society meetings have featured programs relating to generally non-local and more generic subjects that are of national interest such as southern New Jersey and Colonial America. The new programs will concentrate on truly local subjects relating to the Hamilton-Trenton-Mercer County area. There will be fascinating programs featuring photos and articles relating to the historic neighborhoods of Sandtown (Yardville), Sand Hills (Mercerville), Trenton’s Chambersburg, Bromley, Broad Street Park, White City, Woodlawn Park and numerous other local areas, all of which have proven to be of intense local interest over the many years I have been bringing those subjects to my readers.

There are countless photographs and articles from our ever-growing collection of truly local history.

It is time to share some of these treasures with those in our community who are interested. These programs will be in the form of on-screen presentations using a computer program similar to PowerPoint, and will be projected on the Hamilton Library’s huge movie screen.

Incoming Historical Society President James Federici and Lois Majarowitz are currently working with me on the program schedule for the year 2014 which formally begins with the March meeting. The meetings are held at the Hamilton Township Public Library on the first Monday of the month at 7 p.m. There are no meetings during the summer months of June, July and August. The December meeting is the annual Wassail Party held in the John Abbott II house on Kuser Road, which is the headquarters of the society. We are currently working on five programs for the year 2014 and they will be announced in the near future. For those of my readers who have computers, visit the Hamilton Historical Society’s website at www.hamiltonhistory.org.