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!

Italian Heritage in New Jersey: Bucky Pizzarelli

COVID-19 has certainly left us devoid from us this year. We’ve lost family, friends, and others we admire. One of those wonderful New Jerseyans of Italian heritage we lost to the virus is John Paul “Bucky” Pizzarelli.

Born in Paterson in 1926 to the owners of a local grocery store, Pizzarelli picked up the guitar for the first time at the age of nine. At 17, he embarked on his professional career when he joined the Vaughn Monroe dance band in 1944. Over his amazing career, he played with an incredible list of iconic musicians that included Benny Goodman, Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, and Paul McCartney. He was also a long-time member of the “Tonight Show Band.” When Johnny Carson decided to move the show to California, he opted to stay in New Jersey, unwilling to uproot his young and growing family.

John Paul “Bucky” Pizzarelli.
Source: johnpizzarelli.com

After his time with the Tonight Show Band, he began to play regularly at clubs in Manhattan with long-time friend and collaborator, George Barnes. Additionally, he began performing and recording with top jazz musicians. In 1980, he also began collaborating with one special individual – his son John. The father-son duo would perform and record together many times, often joined by Bucky’s other son, Martin, a bassist, and vocalist Jessica Molaskey, John’s wife. John once described them as “the von Trapp family on martinis.”

He never had plans on ever retiring. In a 2015 profile in New Jersey Monthly, Pizzarelli, then 89, said, “Retire?! Why am I gonna retire? I’m gonna sit home and watch Judge Judy all day? No thanks!”

He was a force of nature until the very end and made incredible contributions to jazz music. He passed at home in April of this year due to complications from COVID-19 with his wife of 66 years, Ruth, by his side in Bergen County. Sadly, she passed one week after suffering his loss. May she be continue to be serenated by him in Heaven.

Remembering a Selfless Doctor

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to spread and take the lives of people we love, I want to share with you the story of someone special to me – Dr. Michael G. Giuliano. On Saturday he lost his life to COVID-19.

DrGiuliano

Dr. Michael G. Giuliano

Dr. G. was my doctor since I was 20 years old (trust me, that means it has been a long time). When my husband (then boyfriend) needed a doctor, I told him to go see Dr. G. They quickly became buddies. It was never an appointment – it was always a visit. He was available to his patients, no matter the time or the day. He treated every patient like family.

As word spread of this profound loss, patients shared stories of how he touched their family. Yesterday, a procession of police, fire, and residents passed by his office in a procession. Without fail, his wife MaryLu was at the office, continuing to help his patients, just as I’m sure he would expect. I am happy she was able to see it first-hand. I can’t imagine her feeling of loss, but I hope it gives her comfort knowing we grieve with her as a community.

At some point we’ll have to find a new family doctor. And while I’m sure the new doctor will be fine, but there will never be another Dr. G. God definitely broke the mold with him.

Rest in peace. I hope you now how many of us will miss you.

 

Eight COVID-19 NJ Resources

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to grow, New Jersey has been hit hard. Thankfully, our beloved state has started to offer a variety of services for those who have been hard hit by this virus and its subsequent economic slowdown. Additionally, private companies have been quick to offer job opportunities and other programs for our residents.

The trick when it comes to the COVID-19 outbreak, it is hard to know what information to trust. Presented here are eight resources for New Jersey residents that are fact-based.

  1. COVID-19 Information Hub: This is the first place you should go for reliable information when it comes to the response from the state. This site includes state resources for those who are out of work and testing information.
  2. New Jersey COVID-19 Dashboard: If you want to know where the hot spots are in the state, check out the Dashboard. It is a sad reminder of what is going on, but it important to stay up-to-date on what is happening in your area.
  3. NJSBA COVID-19 Resource Center: The page includes guidance from the New Jersey Department of Health, New Jersey Department of Education, National School Boards Association and other organizations, as well as model and sample policies developed by the NJSBA School Policy Service on subjects relevant to the current situation. It is updated regularly regarding what the schools are doing at the district level as well as across the state.
  4. COVID-19 Jobs and Hiring Portal: While many have been laid off or let go from their jobs, there are plenty of organizations that are hiring. This is an official location for companies that are looking to hire – NOW. All the information you need is right here; including companies that are hiring, jobs available, salaries, and locations.
  5. Division of Housing and Community Resources: Do you need help with your rent? Home energy assistance? This is a great starting point to see what you may qualify for and how to get started.
  6. COVID-19 Resources for Consumers: While most people in Jersey are quick to help each other get through a tough time, there are some who just don’t get it. Luckily, the Department of Consumer Affairs is available to keep all the knuckleheads in line. Were you targeted with a scam? Did you go to a small store and saw huge changes in prices for toilet paper? Contact Consumer Affairs and they will investigate the issue.
  7. Coronavirus Information for New Jersey Businesses: If you are a small business owner and need assistance, make sure to reach out to the Business.NJ.gov team. This page starts out answering some general questions and you can even start a conversation with a member of the team if you require additional help.
  8. 211: This is a great resource for just about anything related to New Jersey. While this isn’t a COVID-19-specific resource, it does offer a lot of information on a wide variety of subjects. It is definitely worth a review.

It is also worth mentioning if you are still stuck where to begin, reach out to your local politicians. Whether your district legislator in Trenton or your town mayor, it is important to remember these people work for the residents of New Jersey and are there to help you!

Hopefully this will all be over soon. In the meantime, let’s stick together and remember to #WashYourHands!