It’s Spring: Get Out!

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

Frenchtown, New Jersey

Be a tourist in your own backyard

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

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

Know before you go

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

Leave only footprints

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

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

Get out!

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

Belleville on Shark Tank

My husband and I usually watch Shark Tank on ABC on Friday night. For those of you who are not familiar with the show, business owners pitch their ideas to a group of “sharks” (very wealthy investors) in order to get an investment to start or expand their business.

A while ago, a young boy wanted an investment for his line of bow ties, Mo’s Bows. While he did not get an investment, shark and FuBu founder Daymond John offered to mentor the young entrepreneur. Since then his business has grown by leaps and bounds!

During last night’s show, an update was provided on Mo’s Bows. Daymond had helped to broker a deal with a company that makes hand-made ties in order to ramp up production. Where is the facility, you might ask? Belleville, New Jersey!

Robert Stewart has been producing hand-made ties in the United States since 1919. Originally located in Connecticut, the factory is now located on Little Street in Belleville.

Now, not only was I jazzed to see a New Jersey company on Shark Tank, I was especially excited to see Belleville. Why you ask? I lived in Belleville for close to 30 years before a two year stop in Nutley and now 10 years in Rockaway, New Jersey. I loved growing up in Belleville. I still go back to that area to visit family, for all my doctors, and head to Branch Brook Park in the spring when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.

Originally known as Second River, the area was renamed Washington. Later in June 1797, the name was permanently changed to Belleville. Shared with Newark, Branch Brook Park is on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. The park’s total number of cherry blossom trees exceeds even the famous collection in Washington, D.C. They are usually in bloom in April and the park plays host to 500,000 while they are in bloom. When my parents were married, they took their wedding photos in the park. When I was a child, I used to go sledding in the park in the winter and hunted for Easter eggs in the spring. The town holds a number of wonderful memories for me.

As spring approaches, I hope you will check out this little gem of North Jersey.