Lyndhurst prepares for 100th anniversary

LYNDHURST —

Attention Lyndhurst residents and former residents: Get ready to party!

The township is celebrating – albeit a bit belatedly – a big milestone … it’s 100th birthday.

And Mayor Robert Giangeruso and a hastily assembled Centennial Committee want you to join in the celebration.

The municipality’s incorporation date is actually May 13, 1917, according to Scott Ackerson, president of the Lyndhurst Historical Society, but township officials had their hands full preparing for the May municipal election so little time, if any, could be devoted to full-fledged planning for the historical event.

Now, however, it’s full steam ahead, Giangeruso asserted, and the Centennial Committee is pressing to put all the pieces together to mark the occasion.

Here’s what has been decided by the committee:

The anniversary will be marked during a two-day period, beginning Saturday, Sept. 30, and concluding the next day, Sunday, Oct. 1.

Things will start off with a bang, featuring a parade probably stepping off at around noon on Sept. 30 from Ridge Road and Lake Ave., with staging of marchers along Fifth and Sixth Aves.

Paraders will proceed south on Ridge, turn west on Valley Brook Ave., then north on Stuyvesant Ave. and end at Court Ave.

Further details on what the parade will look like, in terms of possible bands and floats, are still being fleshed out by the committee.

From Court, marchers and spectators will be directed to festivities at Town Hall Park wherethey’ll be greeted by vendors with multi-ethnic foods, a beer garden, live music from the ‘40s through ‘70s and more.

The day’s events will likely run through the evening, until maybe 9 p.m.

If it rains on Saturday, the parade will take place the next day, Oct. 1, with the same scenario to follow.

If the weather is clear, however, then Sunday will be devoted to a “Fun Day” or “Community Day,” again in Town Hall Park, complete with historically-themed events saluting the township’s past, music by local talent and others, more food trucks, music and booths featuring local civic, fraternal, religious and recreation organizations.

There will also be various types of centennial memorabilia to purchase, including shirts, hats and beer mugs, all inscribed with a uniform Lyndhurst Centennial logo.

Revenue from the sale of souvenirs will help offset the cost of putting on the two-day event. A 50/50 raffle may also be in the works. Private contributions from area industries and citizens will also be solicited. Centennial lawn signs may be designed and marketed. And some “start-up” costs will be funded through the municipal budget.

The Centennial Committee, which met July 12 at the Municipal Building, brainstormed about ways of enlisting the local school community in the celebration, as, for example, through an essay contest with Lyndhurst as the theme.

Committee member Brian Haggerty, a former township commissioner, volunteered to assist with the compilation of a small book on the township’s history.

Anthony Scardino, another member of the committee, suggested that possibly some former longtime Lyndhurst residents could be invited back to “tell stories” about life in the township in years past.

That prompted Haggerty to recommend that those old-timers could be “interviewed on a video” to be produced for the centennial event.  

Ackerson mentioned that he had a collection of cassettes of interviews with longtime Lyndhurst residents made in the 1980s that could be blended in with the video.

Another way of paying tribute to families who’ve lived in Lyndhurst for several generations could be to rename local streets in their honor, Haggerty said. “Many of our streets are named after old farming families. Most of these people are long gone and no one remembers them today. Maybe we could rename some of those streets.”

Also, he added, the anniversary celebration could be the appropriate time for Lyndhurst to consider adopting a “a new coat of arms” for the township.

Committee member Amelia Jarvis said the group needed to come up with an appropriate design/logo for a banner promoting the centennial that could be draped across Ridge and Valley Brook to make locals aware of the upcoming events.

Ackerson displayed a banner and T-shirt that the historical society had devised for the Lyndhurst Little Red Schoolhouse, the Riverside Ave. structure that dates from 1893 as potential models for the township’s creations.

He reminded the committee that the township had buried a time capsule at the schoolhouse site 25 years ago and that possibly a new one could be placed there to be unearthed at some future date but no one seemed eager to pursue that idea.

Scardino said he is creating a Facebook page to help promote the celebration and invited his colleagues to submit ideas.

Committee members are: Mayor Robert Giangeruso, Commissioner Tom DiMaggio, Pat Senese, Evelyn Pezzolla, Scott Ackerson, Robert Goetz, Amelia Jarvis, Anny Scardino, Louis Stellato Jr., Donald Spagnuolo, Kevin Cuneo and Anthony J. Scardino.

Its next scheduled meeting is Wednesday, July 26, at 4:30 p.m., in the commissioners’ caucus room at the Municipal Building.

Ron Leir | Observer Correspondent

Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc. He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter. He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based W.H.A.T. Co. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, N.Y.