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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
As the Olympics in Beijing comes to a close, it is important to take a moment and say “thank you” to the athletes for bringing their best to the games. New Jersey sent over 30 athletes to the Olympics. Here are just a few of our great athletes.
Hakeem Abdul-Saboor – Bobsled
Growing up in East Orange, Hakeem showed an aptitude for multiple sports at a young age. He focused on football and track and field and eventually accepted a football scholarship to The University Of Virginia College at Wise to play the running back. Sadly, his football career ended his senior year due to an ACL injury which halted his hopes of pursuing a professional football career. However, he preserved. Hakeem represented Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics as pusher for two different bobsled crews and now represented Team USA at the 2022 games. What makes me the most proud is that in 2019 he joined the Army and serves as a Biomedical Equipment Specialist.
Kenny Agostino – Ice Hockey
A native of Mount Olive, Kenny is a left-wing for the US Men’s Hockey Team. Kenny graduated as Delbarton’s all-time leading scorer with 261 points. He was named New Jersey High School Player of the Year by the Newark Star-Ledger in 2009 and 2010 and recorded 50 goals and 83 points in his senior year of 2009–10. At Yale, he helped the school reach the championship game and defeated Quinnipiac 4–0 to win the first NCAA team championship of any sport in the school’s history.
Kelly Curtis – Skeleton
Growing up in Princeton, Kelly didn’t start competing in skeleton until college. Going into the Olympics, Kelly was ranked No. 14 in the world by the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation. For the two years prior to the Olympics, she was a member of the Air Force and participated in the service’s World-Class Athlete Program, which offers prospective and current airmen a path to a military career while being nationally ranked in their sport. She finished sixth in Beijing.
Kimi Goetz – Speedskating
A Flemington native and Hunterdon Central High graduate, Kimi earned a spot on the US Long Track Speedskating Team after placing second in both the 500- and 1,000-meter events during qualifying. Kimi switched to long track speedskating in 2018 after a fall during qualifying in short track led to a concussion. After her time on the ice, Kimi plans to pursue work in special education at the elementary level.
Charlie Volker – Bobsled
Another member of the Bobsled Team, Charlie hails from Fair Haven. After earning his BA in history from Princeton, he began bobsledding just two years ago and immediately showed great promise. Initially Charlie was headed to NFL mini-camps when COVID-19 ended that dream. His trainer suggested he try bobsledding. His team earned a top 10 finish in Beijing.
Thank You All
As I mentioned, over 30 of our favorite sons and daughters of New Jersey competed in the 2022 Olympics. We thank you all for doing Jersey proud!
A favorite son of New Jersey, as well as a USFL and NFL player may have lived a short life, but he certainly accomplished a lot. This week Sam Mills reached the pinnacle in his sport; induction into the Pro Football NFL Hall of Fame.
Born in Neptune City and raised in Long Branch, Mr. Mills began his love affair with football at an early age, like many boys. While attending Long Branch High School, he was a standout football player and wrestler. In 1976 and 1977, Mr. Mills won District Championships at Long Branch as a wrestler. His high school and NFL jerseys hang in the gym in his honor.
Mr. Mills attended college at Montclair State and made the football team as a walk-on. He played for Montclair from 1977-1980 where he is the all-time leader in career tackles, tackles in a season, and tackles in a game.
In 1981 Mr. Mills signed with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent, however, he was released at the end of the preseason. Despite several setbacks being cut by multiple teams, he persevered.
In 1983 he signed with the USFL, Philadelphia Stars, and began a three-year playing career with the team. Mr. Mills led the Stars to two USFL championships, was named to three All-USFL teams and is a member of the USFL’s All-Time Team.
In 1985, Stars’ head coach Jim Mora was hired as head coach of the NFL New Orleans Saints and Mr. Mills went with him. He started his career in New Orleans in 1986 and earned four Pro Bowl appearances with the Saints in 1987, 1988, 1991, and 1992. He was inducted into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame in 1998.
Mr. Mills signed with the newly-formed expansion team, Carolina Panthers, in 1995 and was the only player to start every game during the Panthers’ first three seasons. He earned a trip to his fifth Pro Bowl in 1996 at the age of 37 which, at the time, made him the oldest defender to be invited to a Pro Bowl. He retired after the following season. After his retirement, Mr. Mills was inducted into the Carolina Panthers Hall of Honor in 1998. He became a defensive coaching assistant for the Panthers the same year and was promoted to linebackers coach in 1999. His jersey number 51 was retired by the Panthers at the start of the 2005 NFL season, making it the first number the franchise ever retired.
In August 2003, Mr. Mills was diagnosed with intestinal cancer. Though he was told he had a short time left to his life, he underwent chemotherapy and radiation and continued to coach. He was an inspiration to the team during their post-season run as the team faced Dallas and won Super Bowl XXXVIII. Mr. Mills continued to coach until dying from cancer complications on April 18, 2005. He was 45.
Mr. Mills made a positive impact during his short life and his speech to the team before their Super Bowl appearance with a focus on “Keep Pounding,” is now the name of a name of a fund to sponsor cancer research programs and an official team slogan.
He will now be inducted to the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame.
As the calendar turns and we move ahead to 2022, most people make resolutions for the new year. I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of resolutions. They are usually all the same; lose weight, spend more time with the family, blah, blah, blah. While it may sound like semantics, I prefer to make goals.
According to Merriam-Webster, a goal is defined as, “the end toward which effort is directed.” A resolution (the third definition) is, “something that is resolved.” A goal is much more specific. A resolution is hardly exact.
My goal list here is specific to New Jersey. This is all about the effort I will direct to my own beloved state.
Search for Fossils
You may not realize it, but New Jersey offers a variety of opportunities to find fossils. Creatures that range from tiny cephalopods to huge wooly mammoths called New Jersey home. I have never found a fossil, but I will say I never really looked. My goal is to find one this year.
Hike the AT
No, I don’t expect to hide the entire Appalachian Trail, better known as the “AT.” I want to hike just the New Jersey portion of the Trail. The entire length of the AT traverses 14 states from Maine’s Mount Katahdin to Georgia’s Springer Mountain.
The New Jersey stretch of the Appalachian Trail is 74 miles long and begins at Abram S. Hewitt State Forest in the northern most point and runs west and south through Wawayanda State Park, High Point State Park, Stokes State Forest, ending at Worthington State Forest. Now, I do not expect, nor do I plan, to traverse the entire 74 miles in one clip. I will, however, develop a plan to break it down into several short single-day hikes. A great resource to help get started on this goal is the New York New Jersey Trail Conference. This special organization is powered by a great group of volunteers that build, maintain, and protect public trails.
Fish a New Stream for the Heritage Brook Trout
Long before I knew the brook trout was the state fish, it was always my favorite species. The colors are amazing and they put up a wonderful fight. I absolutely love to fly fish in a stream and listen to the water rush downstream as I stand in the river.
The downside, sadly, is the most popular rivers in New Jersey are very well known and generally over-fished. An added frustration for me is that I see plenty of anglers fishing aggressively without a proper license. I regularly encourage those anglers to purchase their license. I explain those license dollars are put right back into the resource. Unfortunately, those anglers usually walk away laughing. It is personally frustrating.
So I want to find a new stream for fishing. But not just any old stream. I want to find a stream that gives me the opportunity to fish for the Heritage Brook Trout. According a study on brook trout genetics, wild populations of brook trout have unique genetic identities. Some Garden State brook trout populations are descendants from the original brook trout colonizers present after the last glacial ice sheet receded more than 10,000 years ago. The existence of these ancestral populations, dubbed heritage brook trout, is important for conservation efforts of this native species (learn more about brook trout genetics by reviewing the original 2008 article).
Advocate for my State’s Open Spaces
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know I am an advocate for the ecology and preservation of the Garden State’s open spaces. Places like the water that the heritage brook trout have liked for thousands of years are threatened on a daily basis due to pollution, encroachment, and other modern-day challenges. From protecting the red knot to attending Environmental Commission meetings on the local level, we all have a responsibility to make sure our natural resources are protected. I plan to continue to advocate and take a more active role to protect those special spots.
Attend Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart
In all my life, I am sad to say I have only attended mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, better known as Newark Cathedral, only once. If you have never been, it is a true piece of art built by the immigrants of Newark; many from the First Ward, the original Italian section of the city. Construction began in January 1898. While the Cathedral began holding mass in 1928, that labor of love was not completed until October 19, 1954. In 1974, the Cathedral was added to the New Jersey Historical Society. Two years later, it gained national recognition when it was listed as a National Historic Site.
On Wednesday, October 4, 1995, Pope John Paul II visited the United States. During the visit, Pope John Paul II conferred the title of Minor Basilica to Sacred Heart Cathedral, giving it its current name, Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. I attended mass at the Cathedral the following Sunday.
This year I will attend mass at least once and sit in prayer and reflection, knowing the history and exceptional effort and craftsmanship that built that wonderfully artistic home of faith.
Head Back Down the Shore
If you are from Jersey, you know that trek down the Garden State Parkway is known as “going down the shore.” It has been two years since my husband and I smelled the sea air or walked on a beach. It renews my soul and clears my mind. One of my favorite spots is Sunset Beach in Cape May. I love digging for Cape May diamonds and walking on the shoreline turning horseshoe crabs upright. After the last two years, I say it is important to head down the shore to replenish my soul.
Visit the Pine Barrens
The New Jersey Pine Barrens, also known as the Pinelands, is the largest remaining example of the Atlantic coastal pine barrens ecosystem. It stretches across seven counties and is over 1.1 million acres. In 1978, Congress created the Pinelands National Reserve (PNR) through the passage of the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978. The Pinelands National Reserve is the first National Reserve in the United States. It is also home to the elusive Jersey Devil.
I am ashamed to admit, but this is another part of the state I have yet to experience in a meaningful way. I would like to plan a hike in the Pine Barrens and maybe get some fly fishing in as well!
Shoot More Film
A large majority of my hobbies are quite analog. I fly fish and tie flies. I crochet, spin yarn, felt, and weave. I really enjoy Geocaching. I also enjoy film photography. I regularly listen to a podcast called the Film Photography Project hosted by two guys from Jersey. Their entire gang of regular guests and commentators offer great advice for photographers at every level. Over the last two years, I have developed a terrible case of GAS (otherwise known as Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and am now the proud owner of a variety of film cameras. I plan to get out more and use them. With all my planned outings, I should have some wonderful opportunities to shoot more film!
Most importantly, I want to be happy. The last two years have been hard on all of us. For the most part we have been stuck in our homes. Maybe you lost your job, or worse, even lost a loved one. I shared the story of someone very dear to my husband and me, Dr. Michael Giuliano, who lost his life to the Coronavirus early in the pandemic when he continued to treat patients despite the risks.
It is time for all of us to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and see our loved ones. New Jersey is a wonderful state and we are lucky to have so many different ways to enjoy it. So, get out and take a hike, go grab a ripper at Rutt’s Hut, or take a ride down the shore. Get back to living and be happy.
As we all known, New Jersey is far more than Newark Airport, the Turnpike, and the oil storage tanks alongside it. From Sussex, to Warren, to Monmouth, there are certainly some beautiful areas to behold.
Unfortunately, as a state, we need to keep a watchful eye out for developers that want to pave over those wonderful open spaces. Over the last few years we have gone from the Mall State to the Warehouse State.
The most recent property under potential attack is Gaitway Farm in Monmouth County; New Jersey’s main training facility for the standardbred horses that race in the state. According to a report by NJ.com, the Manalapan Township Committee voted last week to allow development of warehouses and sports complexes on a 225-acre swath along Route 33; the current location of Gaitway Farm.
The Committee unanimously voted to adopt the Gaitway Area Redevelopment Plan, which amends local zoning to permit warehousing and indoor recreation southwest of the intersection of Route 33 and Woodward Drive. The approved plan preserves 100 acres as open space. The rest will be developed for a variety of uses.
The town mayor and other officials stressed there are no plans to condemn the property and turn it over to a designated developer; a serious concern of area residents. According to town officials, the plan relies on the voluntary development or sale of the properties involved by their owners.
At this point, the wants of the current owners are somewhat unclear. According to Mayor Jack McNaboe, if the owners decide to sell, having a plan in place will help avoid a push for a heavier development plan.
“I’m all in favor of their staying a horse farm, but let’s face it, folks, I don’t see that happening,” McNaboe told the gathering. “I have to be realistic. Money does talk.”
“I have to be realistic. Money does talk.”
Wow. So that’s what we’ve come to as a society, especially in this state. Forget about open space, preserving farmland, or protecting our countryside. It all comes down to ratables.
I don’t know what disgusts me more. The unanimous vote for development or the lack of creativity in the ideas presented to preserve the space. Protecting open space is hard work. It takes out-of-the-box thinking. What about looking at developing a co-op with horse owners? What about a grant from the state? What about, oh I don’t know, maybe talking to the owners and find out what their plans are?
The approved redevelopment plan has a primary and secondary list of proposed uses. The primary uses include warehouses, manufacturing, fabrication, distribution facilities, and agriculture, to name a few. The secondary uses include signage, offices, sound walls, sewage treatment, and basketball courts (no more than four). Wow. warehouses, offices, sewage treatment, and basketball courts. Sounds awesome. Where do I sign up?
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting really tired of watching my beloved state get paved over for no real reason other than ratables and politicians saying they can.
So what can you do?
There are a lot of preservation organizations, watchdog groups, and other institutions to help advocate for preservation. Get involved. Attend your local town council meetings; especially zoning meetings, where all the changes take place. Question what is happening in your own backyard. Ask if there is a better way.
Once paradise is paved and the open space is gone, it rarely comes back.
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!
The Jersey Shore encompasses over 140 miles of beautiful coastline. Famous for its boardwalks, arcades, and amusement piers, each shore town has its own unique vibe. Seaside Heights, which developed a bad reputation thanks to a terrible television show, is popular with teenagers and young twenty-somethings, while Wildwood Crest is more popular with families. The shore region is made up to five different counties – Ocean, Atlantic, Cape May, Middlesex, and Monmouth.
Now I will say there is a “love/hate” relationship between the full-time residents of South Jersey and the seasonal visitors of North Jersey. Seasonal visitors, often called “BENNYs” (which stands for Brooklyn/Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, New York), are considered rude, litter the beaches, and generally act like idiots. As a life-long North Jersey resident, I’ve seen “BENNY behavior” first hand and it is embarrassing. NJ.com even posted an article awhile back about how to not be a BENNY. At the same time, however, the summer months play a key role in the economy of these shore towns by visitors spending a lot of money on vacation, which creates jobs, generates tax income (via crazy parking costs and tickets), and other positive local contributions. When Hurricane Sandy destroyed many of these shore towns, BENNYs (and their money) were welcomed with open arms. Quickly, however, it returned to “BENNYs go home.” If you don’t act like an ass, for the most part, visitors are treated well.
If you ask most Jersey residents, North Jersey and South Jersey are practically considered two separate states, and at one point in history, New Jersey was two separate colonies. The so-called “Central Jersey” doesn’t really exist.
Nevertheless, the Jersey Shore has a fabled and rich history.
Many people today are unaware of the role New Jersey, and especially the Raritan Bay shore, played in the lives of many pirate legends in the late l7th and early I8th centuries. The waters between Sandy Hook and New York City were infested with pirates and French privateers. Blackbeard raided farms and villages near what is today Middletown, and Captain Morgan often visited the area.¹ To this day, there are many who still search the Jersey Shore for the hidden gold of these fabled pirates.
The 250-year-old Sandy Hook Lighthouse. NPS / JERRY KASTEN, Volunteer-In-Parks
The barrier island of Sandy Hook, part of what is known as “The Higlands,” has a long history that predates the formation of the United States. The oldest route to the eastern coast of the United States is the Minisink Trail which started on the upper Delaware River, came through northern New Jersey and ended at the Navesink River. Navesink means “good fishing spot” in the native tongue at the time. The trail was used by Native Americans, such as the Algonquin and Lenni Lenapi tribes. They came from all over New Jersey to spend the summer fishing and finding clams. The Newasunks, Raritans, and Sachem Papomorga (or Lenni Lenapis) were the most prevalent tribes and stayed the longest. These were the tribes which mostly traded with early settlers.² Richard Hartshorne purchased a 2,320-acre tract of land from the Native Americans which provided him with control of nearly all of Sandy Hook and Highlands which was then called “Portland Poynt.” Hartshorne and his family became the first permanent settlers of the area.² Built in 1764 to help reduce shipwrecks, Sandy Hook is home to the oldest operating lighthouse in America and a National Historic Landmark. A primary mission of the fort was the defense of New York Harbor. From 1874 to 1919, Sandy Hook also served as the U.S. Army’s first proving ground for testing new weapons and ordnance.³ The 1,665-acre area of Sandy Hook became part of the National Park Service in 1975 after the Army deactivated Fort Hancock. Today it is a beautiful area full of wildlife, historical buildings, great beaches, and of course that important lighthouse.
Before Atlantic City was known as “the little sister of Las Vegas,” it was known for its four miles of boardwalk, built in 1870. Since 1921, it has been home to the Miss America pageant. In 1853, the first commercial hotel, the Belloe House, was built at the intersection of Massachusetts and Atlantic Avenues.4
So as you can see, the Jersey Shore has a wonderful history. I hope you check back for my next post in this series.
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, 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 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.
Memorial 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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Memorial Day Services, 11 a.m. Monday, Boonton Town Hall, Community Room, Washington Street. boonton.org or (973) 402-7387.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!