If there’s such a thing as a weather god, it really did a great job this past weekend.
That’s because the temperatures and atmosphere couldn’t have been better as the Township of Lyndhurst marked its 100th anniversary on Saturday, Sept. 30, and as the Town of Kearny marked its 150th anniversary on Sunday, Oct. 1.
Both towns’ anniversary celebrations had incredible turnouts — thousands ventured to both.
In Lyndhurst, it all kicked off with a welcome from U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-Paterson, on the steps of the municipal building.
“It’s so great to be here with you, the people of Lyndhurst,” Pascrell said. “I consider myself very lucky to represent the people of Lyndhurst in Washington, D.C. Happy anniversary, Lyndhurst!”
Pascrell presented Mayor Robert Giangeruso with a Congressional Proclamation honoring the township’s 150th anniversary.
Giangeruso, dressed in a blue suit for the occasion, matching the township’s unofficial color, thanked Pascrell for his presence and for always “being a true friend to Lyndhurst. Thank you for being here — and thank you all for being here. Let’s get this parade started.”
And, after a few minutes, that’s what happened — as the grand parade made its way from and back to Township Hall, with Annie Oakley, played by The Observer’s own Lisa Feorenzo, leading the way. Behind her were reps from the Lyndhurst Police and Fire departments, scores of classic cars, representatives of various township organizations and businesses, the Lyndhurst High School marching band and various other groups and dignitaries, including state Sen. Paul Sarlo and Bergen County Clerk John S. Hogan among others.
After the parade, it was off to Town Hall Park for a festival that included vendors selling all kinds of foods — many from Lyndhurst — games and face painting for kids, a classic car show, competitive games including tug-of-war and numerous live performances on the park’s grand stage.
It all lasted a total of 12 hours. And to say the 100th Anniversary committee pulled off a true extravaganza would be an understatement. And it left loads of residents and visitors to Lyndhurst thrilled beyond belief.
That included Mark L. Chertoff, who lived in Lyndhurst for many years before moving his family to Pennsylvania in 2011.
“When I heard this was happening in town, I made sure we marked it on our calendars,” Chertoff said. “I have a lot of special memories of growing up here — and I wanted to be able to bring my kids here to a place that has such special significance.”
Chertoff says he really enjoyed the parade — and the food.
“It was great to see so many familiar faces in the parade,” he said. “And with all the different kinds of food they had, I can say I don’t have an empty stomach, that’s for sure.”
Chertoff was hardly the only one who left stuffed.
Leanne Nisbet has lived in Lyndhurst since 1982. She and her family came to Lyndhurst from Brooklyn at a time when her father wanted to offer her — and the rest of the family — a better life. And while she says she’s not involved in anything civically, she wanted to come out to support what the anniversary committee “worked hard to put together.”
“They did a great job putting this day together — and lucky for us, the weather cooperated,” Nisbet said. “It looked like it was going to rain with some dark clouds just around the time the parade kicked off. But aside from like a few drops of a rain, it all seemed like it went off without a single glitch. This was a great day not just for the people of our township, but for everyone who came here from different places.”
Another of those visitors from out of town was John Buckfield, in Jersey from his new place of residence, just outside Atlanta.
“Yeah, I came in to visit my best friend who lives here,” Buckfield said. “At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to come — but I am glad we did. It was nice, for a day, not to have to travel anywhere and to have a good time. We all did.”
Just a few hours after things wound down in Lyndhurst — and a calendar day later — it was much of the same in Kearny, where scores of people came to Belgrove Drive, between Bergen Ave. and Afton St., for a similar celebration for Kearny 150th anniversary.
Mayor Alberto Santos said, at first, he was a bit worried about what the crowd size would be — but once things kicked off at around 3 p.m., his worries turned to joy — the place was packed. He was very grateful to the 150th anniversary committee for putting together a spectacular afternoon that featured numerous local bands, a zip line (which we’re told both Second Ward Councilman Peter Santana and Third Ward Councilwoman Carol Jean Doyle “experienced” in the early part of the day), face painting, a rock-climbing wall, a tea-cup ride, food of all kinds (including from three local eateries), cultural performances, tables with presentations for countless town organizations, a grand-finale fireworks show over the Passaic River and much more.
“The weather (was) beautiful, the turnout is amazing, and the activities, the food, the entertainment — everything is working out really well,” Santos told The Observer as he took a short break from spending time with his family. “Everybody who participated in organizing this, all the groups that are participating … it truly makes this a Kearny event. It reinforces who we are as a community, and I am very pleased that people came out, together, to support each other.”
Santana echoed Santos’s sentiments.
“Such a great turnout this is,” Santana, the Second Ward representative, said. “It’s been so nice to see people having a good time and enjoying all we had to offer. A really great day.”
And a really great day was what many had to say about the conclusion to the year-long celebration of the town’s sesquicentennial, including Gladys Santana, of Kearny, who is not related to the councilman.
“I wish we could have things like this all the time,” she said. “This was great for my kids to do things with their friends — and I was happy to know they were doing it in a safe environment.”
And safe, it was, indeed.
We were told there was a single minor injury a young boy suffered while playing football on Vets Field — but it was otherwise a flawless day, one for the memory books.
“Kearny will always be my home, even though I moved away,” said Francis O’Brien, who spent the first 32 years of his life in Kearny and who now calls Edgewater home. “I saw so many people I haven’t seen in a long time, so it was really a great homecoming for me. It really seems like everyone is having a great time.”
And if anyone wasn’t having a good time, we were hard pressed to find ‘em.