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This week’s e-Edition, classifieds are now posted

This week’s e-Edition and classifieds are now posted. We apologize for the delay.


Blood appointed

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  Take away the “acting” title: the Kearny Board of Education has formally installed Patricia Blood as its official superintendent of schools. The board took the action at a special meeting held last Thursday night at the Lincoln School. The vote was […]


Kearny unveils new monument

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  On May 27, 1922, an estimated 25,000 people gathered in the streets around the small park where Kearny Ave. and Beech St. meet, to witness Gen. John J. Pershing personally dedicate the towering granite monument honoring the Kearny men who died […]


Nutley cops hunt driver in fatal hit-run

A photo (above) of the suspect van was released Nov. 19 by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.   NUTLEY –  Nutley police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating the motor vehicle that struck and killed a 77-year-old woman on Centre St. on […]


School is more than books for these kids

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  HARRISON –  At Washington Middle School in Harrison, nearly 75% of the more than 400 enrolled are just as busy with school-related projects after 3 p.m. as they are during their regular day of classes. And that’s partly by design of the school […]


A special day for N. Arlington child





A 10-year-old borough lad was the center of attention recently when he was selected “Chief for the Day” by the Bergen County Police Chiefs Association in cooperation with Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino.

Now in its third year, the program seeks to recognize youngsters with special needs from around the county and make them feel good about themselves in their home communities.

On June 6, with the help of input from the borough Board of Education and the child study team at Washington School, fifth-grader Miguel Vega, a special needs youngster, was ceremonially sworn in as North Arlington’s chief by Mayor Peter Massa at Borough Hall and met borough employees.

Then, Miguel was taken to the borough Police Department where he “took over,” sitting in the private office of Chief Louis Ghione, and, after being outfitted with his own special police uniform, with the chief’s guidance, delivered “orders of the day” to the rank and file and “signed off” on purchase orders and sorted through official police reports.

Miguel was also able to phone his dad, a truck driver on the road, and identified himself as “Chief Mike.”

During an “inspection” of the police motor pool, Miguel found out what it felt like to sit on a police motorcycle and inside a patrol car where he activated the lights and siren.

Next stop for Miguel was the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack where he was introduced to, and mingled with, some 35 of his peers from around the county who were also honored that day.

Photos courtesy North Arlington PD TOP: Miguel and the chief share time in Ghione’s office. BOTTOM: Miguel tries out a police motorcycle on his special day.

Photos courtesy North Arlington PD
TOP: Miguel and the chief share time in Ghione’s office. BOTTOM: Miguel tries out a police motorcycle on his special day.


He was photographed with Chief Ghione on the courthouse steps and that picture was incorporated into a framed plaque that the borough presented him as a souvenir of his special day. As the culminating event for the day, Miguel and his mother Lilia were given a motorcycle police escort to the Empire Club in Little Ferry for a luncheon.

Johnston Communications, a North Arlington firm that does a lot of charitable work, paid for Miguel’s uniform and plaque and the meals for Miguel and his mom, according to Ghione.

“This is our third year participating in the program and each time it’s more rewarding for me because we’re focused on what’s important – the people in this community,” the chief said.

 – Ron Leir

It’s dinner, music & comedy … and much more, at Whiskey Cafe


By Kevin Canessa Jr. 

Observer Correspondent 


If you’re looking for a New York City-like night out, but don’t want the hassle or prices of Manhattan, you need not look all that far away — as Whiskey Café Restaurant and Night Club, at 1050 Wall St., has plenty for locals to do, every night of the week.

Among the newest events at Whiskey Café is Dinner, Music & Comedy, featuring music by Allan Boles and the comedy of Kelly Shannon & Friends, on Fridays, 6 to 10 p.m.

Normally, Fridays at Whiskey are associated with Happy Hour, but with the summer here and with many people drawn to the Shore for the weekend, owner Frank Morganti says he wanted something enjoyable for those who don’t go away.

“We really wanted something new and something special for Fridays,” Morganti said. “And we think we have that with live music and comedy.”

The Friday dinner menu has items for just $10.95, and includes soup or salad and an entrée. For just $4.95 more, you can add an appetizer or dessert. And best of all — there’s no cover for the shows.

Boles performs from 6 to 9 p.m., and then Shannon hits the stage from 9 to 10 p.m.

There’s so much more than just what happens Friday nights, too. For the next few weeks, Whiskey will show every World Cup Soccer game on its numerous large-screen HDTVs.


Photo courtesy Whiskey Cafe A few of the many cars you’ll find at Whiskey Café Saturday nights between 5 and 10 p.m. as part of the American Cruisers weekly car cruise.

Photo courtesy Whiskey Cafe
A few of the many cars you’ll find at Whiskey Café Saturday nights between 5 and 10 p.m. as part of the American Cruisers weekly car cruise.


On Monday nights, it’s paint night at 7 p.m. — where an artist comes in and shows patrons how to paint while responsibly enjoying some adult beverages. (Advance tickets are required — and can be purchased for $25 from a link at www.WhiskeyCafe.com).

“We stated out with about 10 people, but it’s grown to be really popular now,” Morganti said. “We’ve got about 40 coming on Monday nights — and they really seem to be enjoying it.”

On Wednesdays, it’s country music night starting at 7 p.m. — and a $10 cover gets you access to a full buffet starting at 8 p.m.

On Thursday nights, it’s Salsa Summer — and that includes a 7 p.m. Salsa dance lesson, as well as a great night of Salsa music. That’s only $5.

Perhaps the most noted night of all is Saturdays, when around 500 classic, new and specialty cars make their way to Whiskey from 5 to 10 p.m. as part of American Cruisers’ largest regularly scheduled car cruise. There’s no cost for the car show, but the American Cruisers do accept donations as patrons arrive.

While all that’s happening, there’s always some kind of live entertainment, from dance music to oldies and bands, including Classic 45 Oldies Band on June 28.

Bottom line — if you’re looking for something to do, you’re going to find something enjoyable every night of the week at Whiskey Café.

“We’re really happy with what’s happening here — and we hope more people come out and give us a try,” Morganti said. “They won’t leave disappointed.”

The Whiskey Café Restaurant & Night Club is located at 1050 Wall St., Lyndhurst. Contact them at 201-939-4889 or visit them online at www.WhiskeyCafe.com for more information.

KPD blotter: Accosted by gunman

A Kearny man was robbed at gunpoint in the early hours of Saturday, June 14, in the area of Sanford and Harrison Aves., police reported.

The 19-year-old victim told responding Officer Dean Gasser that at about 1:40 a.m., he had just parked his car on Sanford when he was approached by two males, one of whom displayed a handgun and demanded, “Give me everything you’ve got.” The victim turned over a small amount of currency, his driver’s license and college ID and an iPhone.

The robbers fled west on Harrison Ave. in a newer model SUV, police said.

Det. Ray Lopez is conducting the investigation.

Other recent reports from the Kearny police blotter included the following:

June 12 

Vice detectives, conducting surveillance at Kearny Ave. and Halstead St. at 5:15 p.m., saw what they believed to be a drug transaction taking place in a double-parked car. They stopped the vehicle at Garfield Ave. and Forest St., where the driver, Isael Aquino, 27, of Kearny, was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and operating a motor vehicle in possession of a CDS.

Police said Aquino was also found to have a suspended license and an outstanding Kearny warrant. His passenger, John Arboleda, 24, of Kearny, was charged with possession of the drug and paraphernalia and possession with intent to distribute.

June 13 

At 2:30 a.m., Officer Ben Wuelfing was dispatched to Kearny and Wilson Aves. on a report of a person asleep in a car. He arrived to find a man snoozing behind the wheel of a Hyundai that was stopped in the northbound lane of Kearny Ave., the car still in drive and the man’s foot on the brake, police said. Wuelfing put it in park, removed the keys, awoke the driver and conducted field sobriety tests, after which Javier Solano, 22, of Belleville, was charged with DWI, DWI in a school zone, being an unlicensed driver and obstructing traffic.

Office Jay Ward responded to Devon Terrace at 2:40 p.m. on a report of people removing items from a home believed to be vacant. Ward reportedly saw two individuals loading household goods into a parked pickup truck and contacted the realtor, who told the officer the property was in foreclosure and no one had authority to take anything. Nicholas Reinoso, 54, of Newark, was charged with theft. Gladys Perez, 62, also of Newark, was arrested on an outstanding warrant from that city.

June 14 

At 9 p.m., Officer Daniel Esteves responded to the 800 block of Kearny Ave., where a southbound Nissan pickup truck had rear-ended a Honda Accord.

The truck’s driver, Tyler Mills, 19, of Douglasville, Ga., was charged with DWI, underage consumption of alcohol, having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle and careless driving.

 June 16

An off-duty state trooper alerted the KPD at 10:30 p.m. to a suspicious vehicle and two individuals who were looking into cars and driveways near Kearny and Stuyvesant Aves. While Officer Chris Medina gathered information from the trooper, Officer Ben Wuelfing checked the area and found a parked white Ford van with New York plates. He also encountered Wilmer Barona, 25, of Queens, who police said could not provide a legitimate explanation for being there. Barona was arrested on an outstanding warrant from Elizabeth. Also arrested, on a warrant from Leonia, was Brayan Castano, 25, of Queens.

June 17 

A Jersey City man had a bit of bad luck when his car broke down in South Kearny at about 10 a.m., and it involved more than just a disabled vehicle.

Officer Joseph Vulcano found that the driver, 29-year-old Darrow Younger, was wanted by the Hudson County Sheriff ’s Office, police said. Younger, who reportedly also had a suspended license and suspended registration, was arrested.

June 18 

Officer Richard Carbone was on patrol at 3:30 p.m. when he saw three individuals trespassing on railroad property near Schuyler Ave. and West Hudson Park. While interviewing them, he noticed a strong odor of raw marijuana and one of the trio was found to have four large plastic bags of suspected pot in a backpack, which also contained a marijuana grinder, a pipe, a digital scale and numerous empty plastic bags, police said.

Joseph Lamboy, 29, of Harrison, was charged with possession of more than 50 grams of the drug, possession with intent to distribute, and possession with intent near a school and a park. He was remanded to the Hudson County Jail on $25,000 bail.

 – Karen Zautyk  

Brother’s Bakery is on a roll – and it takes the cake!


By Kevin Canessa Jr. 

Observer Correspondent 


If you’ve ever driven past Brother’s Quality Bakery- Deli late at night, chances are you’ve smelled that incredible scent coming from the ovens. If you pause for a second right now, you can probably recall just how great an aroma it is.

And if you’ve ordered a sandwich of any kind — especially that Taylor ham, egg and cheese sandwich — you’ve probably had it on a roll made at Brother’s.

And yet, in a real sense, Brother’s Bakery is so much more than just its bread. And it’s been that way for close to 40 years now.

“We offer some of the finest French and Italian breads available,” said Brother’s general manager Jackie Diaz. “We also offer cakes for any occasion, custom-made cakes, 3-D cakes and more — and we always use the freshest ingredients. Never anything frozen.”

Brother’s is also known for distributing its well-loved bread throughout the region.

“We distribute all over,” Diaz said. “We have customers in Scotch Plains, customers in New York City — all over really.”

Brother’s also recently made the decision to reopen its deli.

“We had had a deli before but stopped,” Diaz said. “But our customers told us they wanted the deli back. They always use our breads for their sandwiches, so it made sense that if they came here, they could do it all in one stop. And we love our customers for it.

“Many people come in, start off with a cup of coffee, then get a sandwich — and then finish things off with dessert.”

Diaz says customers can get all kinds of sandwiches made, including paninis and wraps.

Thomas Gencarelli and his family have owned Brother’s since the day its doors opened in 1976. It was Tommy, Nick and Frank Gencarelli who started the business. And now Tommy runs the bakery with Diaz.

Diaz says she and Tommy are grateful for their loyal customers who keep coming back, day in and day out, year in and year out.

“We really do appreciate our customers’ support,” she said. “We always try our best to provide the best quality products — and it’s our hope we continue to do so for many years to come.”

Considering how many people across the country ask on Facebook about having bread delivered to them — including many in Florida — it makes sense Brother’s will continue to be one of Kearny’s greatest and longest- standing businesses for a long time to come.

Said one Facebook fan: “Good morning Brother’s Bakery. I would like to recommend that you ship your hard rolls out of state to Florida by prepaid special request.”

Brother’s Bakery is located at 365 Kearny Ave., at Liberty St., Kearny. For information, call 201-991-4364 or find them on Facebook at www.facebook. com/BrothersQuality- BakeryNJ. Hours of operation are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Saturday; and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

News from the Nutley police blotter

June 14 

A mishap, at 5:18 a.m., involving a tow truck ended up damaging a vehicle being towed, police said. The tow truck driver told police that the cable/chain securing the vehicle to the deck broke loose, causing the vehicle in tow to roll forward when he applied the brakes, in the process, striking the crash barrier between the cab and flatbed, denting the front end of the vehicle, a Mustang.

At 7:55 a.m., a Weston St. homeowner called police after finding a small glass vial, with a plastic pink cap, containing several crystalized white rocks (a suspected narcotic), on a retaining wall near their home. The vial was confiscated by police.

After being alerted to an individual wearing what appeared to be hospital wristbands and EKG pads walking north on Washington Ave., at 9:58 a.m., police located the person in a store parking lot. The man told them he’d just been released from a hospital and had nowhere to go. Later, police said, after learning that the man, identified as Hassan Kemp, 52, of Paterson, was wanted on an outstanding warrant from Paterson, arrested him and then turned him over to Paterson PD.

At 6:47 p.m., a Franklin Ave. business owner called police to report that somebody has been stealing bread from in front of their store during the early morning hours. Police are reviewing surveillance footage for possible clues.

June 16 

A badly maintained vehicle tripped up the driver when police made a traffic stop at Nutley Ave. and River Road, at 1:09 a.m., and arrested Johnny Loor, 29, of Clifton, after confirming that Loor had outstanding warrants from Passaic and Clifton. He was also issued summonses charging him with driving while suspended and noisy muffler before being released to Clifton PD.

A Columbia Ave. resident called police at 5:39 a.m. to report that someone had stolen their black Jeep Grand Cherokee from their driveway.

At 11:31 a.m., police responded to a store at Harrison St. and Franklin Ave. where the manager reported having seen a male with a large build remove a can of Arizona ice tea from the cooler and then heard the sound of a can being opened. The manager then spotted the can, still cold and partly empty, sitting on a shelf. He then saw the male entering a white Honda. On June 14, the manager said, he saw the same person chewing something in the store and, after the person left, he found a candy bar wrapper in the aisle. Police advised the manager he could file a court complaint against the person.

The would-be victim of an apparent scammer reported receiving phone calls from someone claiming to be from the Nutley Police Department asking for money for the victim’s grandson to be released from jail. After the victim refused, police said a second caller tried to get the victim to send money by claiming they were a Nutley police captain. But the victim refused and the calls ended, police said. Detectives are investigating.

June 17 

At 11:15 p.m., police responded to a report of criminal mischief to an auto parked on King St. Police said they observed multiple cigarette burns to the vehicle’s cover as well as burns in the vehicle’s paint, plus multiple scratches and a depression in the hood.

June 18 

A theft at a local coffee shop was reported to police at 1:24 a.m. The victim told police a man not known to them bumped into them as they were entering the bathroom and, a bit later, the victim discovered their wallet was missing. The wallet contained between $450 and $500 and several credit cards which the victim has canceled.

At 2:48 p.m., police responded to the aftermath of a report of a dispute at a Washington Ave. gas station. Police said a customer, apparently upset over the attendant too hastily taking his $20 payment for gas from his hand, got out of his car, yelled at the attendant, spit in his face and punched him in the face and then drove away. Police said the driver was described as African- American, between 30 and 35. Nutley EMTs treated the victim. Police said they determined the assailant’s identity and advised the victim of his right to sign a complaint.

A construction team working on Centre St. dropped debris on air-conditioning condensing units of a neighboring property while working on a demolition project, police said. Police said the construction company’s owner agreed to pay for the damage. The incident was logged at 3:35 p.m.

At 4:23 p.m., police received a report that someone stole a mailbox and damaged some metal garbage cans at a King St. location.

At 10:10 p.m., William Woodkotch, 21, of Nutley, was stopped by police as he was leaving a Franklin Ave. pizzeria and accused of stealing a phone and credit card reader from the business. Woodkotch was arrested on charges of theft. Detectives recovered the phone and reader and released the man after he was given a court date.

June 19 

At 12:22 p.m., police responded to the Raceway gas station on Washington Ave. after receiving complaints about a man panhandling there. Police said they located a man matching the description given by callers who told them he didn’t have a job and needed money for the bus. Police said they advised the man not to continue begging for money or he’d be arrested.

June 20 

At 7:55 a.m., a Whitford Ave. resident called police after hearing a loud bang at their door and, looking out their window, said they saw a white 2-door vehicle drive away from the front of their home. After opening their front door, they noticed that a trash can had been thrown at the door.

At 8:55 a.m., a Rutgers Ave. resident reported someone stole their garbage can sometime during the night. The trash receptacle was valued at $20.

A resident reported a phone scam to police. The caller advised the resident to contact a “Robinson Cooper” to receive a government check for $6,700 for “always paying their bills on time.” After providing “Mr. Cooper” with their name and last four digits of their Social Security number, the caller was told they’d first have to send $200 to receive the check. At that point, the caller hung up and called police, who contacted “Mr. Cooper,” who denied it was a scam and then hung up.

– Ron Leir

Around Town


Belleville Public Library and Information Center, 221 Washington Ave., announces its Eight Great Live Monday Nights series, sponsored by the Friends of the Library, with a new show every Monday at 6:30 p.m. during July and August. Registration is required. Call 973-450-3434. These programs are for the entire family, unless otherwise noted. The first two shows will be: “Outragehiss Pets,” a live animal presentation with various creatures, on July 7 and “Lasermania,” a laser show featuring current top music hits, on July 14.

Children of all ages can sign up for the Library Players and act in a play that patrons can attend for free. Rehearsals begin July 10 and will be held every Thursday at 3 p.m. The play will be presented on Monday, Aug. 18, at 6:30 p.m., as part of the library’s Eight Great Live Monday Nights series. To sign up, call the library.


The Financial Book Club at Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St., meets 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesdays, June 24 to Aug. 26. Beginners are welcome to join and all reading materials can be obtained through the library with a valid library card. The club will examine how budget (income), balance sheet (net worth) and cash-flow impact managing expenses, debt, value of money, investment selections, etc., for companies and consumers. Register online at http://www.bplnj.org/programs. For more information, call 973-566-6200.

Bloomfield Cultural Commission presents traditional Polish singing, dancing and food, plus arts and crafts for children, Sunday, June 29, 1 to 5 p.m., at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 190 State St. Admission is free.

Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center, 240 Belleville Ave., offers a children’s summer art camp starting June 30. Classes are held Monday to Friday. Cost for the first session is $250; sessions 2 through 5 cost $275 (materials included). Participants may register by calling the Oakeside office at 973-429- 0960. Registration forms and class schedules and descriptions are available on the Oakeside website www.oakeside.org.


Harrison Public School district will participate in a summer food service program, open to children age 18 and under, July 7 to Aug. 7, Monday to Thursday, at Washington Middle School, 1 N. Fifth St., 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. each day. The program is offered through the Food and Nutrition Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Harrison Public Library, 415 Harrison Ave., presents its summer reading program on “mad science.” There will be sessions on Thursdays, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., for ages 4 to 6; and Tuesdays, 3 to 4 p.m., for ages 7 and 8. All sessions begin July 8 and run through August.

The library’s Young Adult Reading Group for ages 9 and up meets Wednesdays, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., starting July 9 and runs through August. Selection of a novel to be read will be announced July 9.

Sign up in person at the library. Space is limited. For more information, call the library at 973-483-2366


Children ages 8 to 15 are welcome at the Presbyterian Boys-Girls Club (PBGC), 663 Kearny Ave., July and August, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7 to 9 p.m., for a summer program of basketball, dodge ball, arts and crafts, electronic games and more, under the supervision of a professional staff led by former Lincoln School counselor Tom Fraser.

The PBGC also sponsors the following trips: State Fair on July 2, Mt. Creek Water Park on July 9, Seaside Heights rides and water park on July 16, Walking with Dinosaurs at the Prudential Center, Newark, on July 25, Yankee game on Aug. 7 and Jersey Jackals game on Aug. 13. All trips are chaperoned by Kearny teachers.

Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., hosts an appearance by local author Karen B. Kaplan, who will read from and sign copies of her book, “Encountering the Edge: What People Told Me Before They Died,” Wednesday, July 2, at 6 p.m. Copies of her book will be available at a discounted rate. Kaplan will lead a discussion on her book Wednesday, Aug. 6, at 6 p.m. Admission is free.

Check out Kaplan’s blog at offbeatcompassion.com. Call 201-998-2666 or visit www.kearnylibrary.org for more program information.

The main library offers these upcoming children’s programs:

• Pre-school and elementary school-aged children are invited to join “Fizz, Boom, Read” summer reading program, starting June 25. Youngsters will receive a free reading log, choose whatever they want to read, including at least one science book, and track their progress in their reading log. Reading logs must be returned to the children’s room no later than Aug. 15 to be eligible for a prize for completing the reading challenge.

• Family Fun Night is held Wednesday, June 25. Flow Circus will perform juggling and more, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. This show is recommended for age 4 and up.

• The Spoon Man performs rock, rap and folk music on kitchen spoons Monday, June 30, 4 to 5 p.m. This show is recommended for ages 4 and up.

• Free No-Bake Cooking Classes, open to children ages 4 to 8, will meet for five weeks, on Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to noon, beginning July 2, in the Main Library’s newly renovated lower level kitchen. Recipes offered will take food allergies into consideration. Class size is limited to 12. To reserve a spot, or for more information, call the library at 201-998-2666.

Free programs for children will be available at the library throughout the summer. Check the library’s website www.kearnylibrary.org for program information. Keep watching the website as new programs will be added during the summer.

Kearny High School 60th class reunion for the classes of June 1954 and January 1955 will be held Sept. 19, at noon, in Spring Lake Heights. Admission is $32. For more information or to make reservations, email phylmae@aol.com or call 732- 458-5162.

West Hudson Christian Center, 557 Kearny Ave., presents Weird Animals Vacation Bible School, from Sunday, July 20, to Wed., July 23, 6:30 to 9 p.m., for ages 3 to 12. To pre-register in advance (space is limited), visit whccag.org or call 201-997- 7762. Registration is also open each night of the program at the door.


Seniors are invited to wear their red, white and blue and bring a flag to a free Fourth of July Band Concert by the North Jersey Concert Band Wednesday, July 2, at 7 p.m., at the Meadowlands Environment Center, 2 DeKorte Park Plaza. Registration is recommended and appreciated. To register, call 201-777-2431.

North Arlington

North Arlington Woman’s Club has designated Wednesday, June 25, as “Joshua’s Day,” on behalf of 6-year-old North Arlington resident Joshua Piperato, who, was involved in an accident in March that resulted in the partial amputation of his leg. The club is fundraising to help with any uncovered medical bills or treatments to help subsidize any unexpected costs his family faces due to his injury.

Participating businesses will have a Joshua’s Day flyer displayed in their window. People patronizing those businesses are asked to mention “Joshua’s Day” and a percentage of their bill will be donated to the fundraiser.

Any local organization or individual wishing to donate is invited to send checks, payable to the N.A.W.C., P.O. Box 7274, North Arlington, N.J. 07032, with the words “Joshua’s Day” written in the memo line. For more information, call Christine at 201-577-1088.

Children can spend summer with exciting weekly classes and special events at North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road. Registration is required for all of these programs.

To register for classes, visit: http://bit.ly/11uEKUz.

Registration will be open from June 26 to July 3. Weekly programs run from July 8 to Aug. 8. Special events are scheduled every Wednesday from July 9 to Aug. 6.

For additional information or questions, call 201-955-5640, ext. 126.

Here are some upcoming programs:

• Music n’ Movement, interactive play with music and movement for ages 2 to 5, is held on Tuesdays at 11 a.m.

• Fizz Boom Story Time for ages 2 to 5 gives kids a chance to listen to and enjoy imaginative stories on Mondays at 11:30 a.m. (On July 28, there will be a special story time all about nutrition.)

• Boomtastic Crafts for ages 6 to 10 allows kids to make a variety of cool and exciting crafts on Tuesdays at 3 p.m.

• Lego Club for ages 6 to 10 provides an opportunity to build with Legos on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. (No class July 15.)

• Tween Book Club for ages 10 to 13 offers the opportunity for kids to read, discuss and discover great books every Wednesday at 1 p.m.

• Young Adults Writing Club is a creative writing group for ages 14 to 18 that meets Thursdays at 6:30 p.m.

• Reading Club will award prizes to children ages 2 to 18 who read, log their books and visit the library each week, July 8 to Aug. 8. Kids can log their books online or ask a librarian to help. Kids should pick up a paper reading log in the Juvenile Department. Read 10 books this summer to receive an invitation to the library’s summer reading program’s closing ceremony on Aug. 12 at 6 pm.

• Fizz Boom Wednesday Special Event features “Vibrant Volcanoes,” when kids entering grades 1 to 4 will make a working miniature volcano, learn the hula dance and hear the story of Pele, the goddess of fire Wednesday, July 9, at 11 a.m. This program is limited to 25 children so register early.

• Thursday Night Drop-in Activities has no registration requirement.

• Movie Nights feature movies appropriate for the entire family July 17, 31 and Aug. 7.

• Movie Story Time allows kids ages 4 to 6 to read a story and watch a movie July 10 and 24.

World Cup soccer fever comes to Kearny once again

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By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer 

When Portugal scored the equalizing goal with just 15 seconds remaining in added time Sunday, grasping a tie out of the jaws of a Team USA victory in the second round of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, local soccer fans could try to put a positive spin on everything.

Well, at least it wasn’t a loss.

And before the game began, every single Team USA fan would have taken a draw against Portugal, one of the favorites in the tournament and featuring the world’s best player in Cristiano Ronaldo. Before the game, odds makers had Portugal as a two-goal favorite to win the match.

And the 2-2 tie wasn’t exactly the worst outcome the Red, White and Blue could have received. Team USA now needs at least a draw against world power Germany Thursday morning to advance to the field of 16.

However, it was the way the game ended that caused such pain and anguish.

“It was a stinger,” said Christian Garing, a former Kearny High School soccer standout who now runs the Kearny Red Bull Army, a group that attends all New York Red Bulls home games at Red Bull Arena in Harrison.

But Garing had mixed emotions Monday morning.

“I went to bed feeling that we lost,” Garing said. “I woke up a little more positive thinking we can move on. If someone would have told me before the World Cup started that we’d have a win over Ghana and a tie with Portugal, I would have signed that contract right away.”

Regardless of the outcome, the sport of soccer has received a major boost by the attention the World Cup has received.

Just a look at the restaurants and bars in the area is proof that World Cup fever has definitely caught on.

At the popular Kearny Scots- American Club, the joint was rocking with soccer fans both for the win over Ghana last Monday and the draw with Portugal Sunday.

“I think with each passing World Cup, we get to see a bigger following in the United States,” Garing said. “The sport is getting a more positive spin from the media. You can tell by the patriotism that is being portrayed on television that things are turning around. The sport has definitely grown.”

Garing is also impressed with the way Team USA has played in its first two games. People like Clint Dempsey, who has scored a goal in each game, have become household names. Graham Zusi has collected an assist in each game. Both Dempsey and Zusi are Major League Soccer players.

Dempsey scored his first goal just seconds into the game against Ghana and later suffered a severely broken nose, but was able to play against Portugal on Sunday and scored once again, becoming a nation al hero overnight.

Jermaine Jones gave the United States some hope with his brilliant strike from 25 yards out, tying the game in the 64th minute, before Dempsey scored from Zusi in the 80th  minute, giving everyone anticipation of the upset win that just wasn’t meant to be.

“I was in Kearny and Harrison before the World Cup and the talk was that the U.S. wasn’t going to score a single goal in the World Cup,” Garing said. “People were saying that we were not going to get through (to the field of 16). That conversation has sure changed. Now, we think we can win and move on.”

Before the World Cup began, United States head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was quoted as saying that the United States “had no chance whatsoever of winning the World Cup” this year.

Those comments hit a few sour notes locally.

“I can see where he’s coming from,” said former Kearny High soccer standout Miguel Abreu, watching the games with his entire family, including 2-year-old son Dylan. “But as a player, you never want to hear that. It’s an uphill battle to begin with. You never want to hear your coach saying that.”

Photo by Jim Hague The avid soccer fans at the Kearny Scots-American Club erupt after Clint Dempsey scored an early goal against Ghana.

Photo by Jim Hague
The avid soccer fans at the Kearny Scots-American Club erupt after Clint
Dempsey scored an early goal against Ghana.


“I think he was trying to get the best of his team,” said Kearny resident Ed Coleman. “That’s the German mentality (Klinsmann is a former German soccer standout and great coach). They try to underplay everything and hope that the team overachieves. I think the USA fans are more upset with those words than the players. The players know what they’re up against.”

“I hope we get him to eat his words,” said fellow Kearny resident Lennon Gomez, a former Kearny High athlete. “I don’t understand how you say those things before the tournament begins.”

Coleman was certain that Team USA was going to do well in the World Cup.

“I think we’re going to surprise a lot of fans,” Coleman said. “Our backline is young. We also have the best goaltender in the world.”

Tim Howard, Team USA’s net minder, is a former Kearny resident who lived on Pleasant Place when he played for the old MetroStars.

“We’re all hyped up for this,” Coleman said. “It’s unbelievable.”

“It’s beautiful to see all the Kearny people get excited for the World Cup,” Gomez said. “The Kearny pride is showing. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Abreu was glad to be able to share it with his young son.

“It’s a long time coming,” Abreu said. “The World Cup only comes around every four years. It’s such a great experience here, especially in Kearny, with all the different nationalities in the town. We’re ready for a good USA run. The afternoon games are nice, because we can bring our families. We have second, third and even fourth generation soccer fans here. It’s great to see.”

Garing notices the way Kearny just explodes with excitement during the World Cup. However, it’s not just locally. ESPN showed viewing parties in places like Grant Park in Chicago and Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, where thousands of USA fans gathered together to show their support.

World Cup fever has encompassed the nation, but especially in our own backyard.

“I don’t know if we’re ready to win the World Cup yet,” Garing said. “We still have to earn some respect throughout the world. But we have shown we can win games.”

The United States was just 15 seconds away from winning Sunday and moving on to the final 16. Silvestre Varela’s header off the brilliant cross from Ronaldo dashed those hopes. Now, Team USA has to do it the hard way against Germany. Kearny and the surrounding communities are just hoping upon hope that World Cup fever will include the United States national team through the weekend.

NJSIAA honors top scholar-athletes Tomko & Ojo

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By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

She lettered in four different sports during her brilliant four-year career at Lyndhurst High School, participating in soccer, basketball, swimming and softball.

But Grace Tomko’s lasting legacy will go far beyond the fields of play, the court or the pool.

Last Thursday, Tomko delivered the valedictory speech at the Lyndhurst commencement exercises.

It’s not every day that a student-athlete earns the right to be a class valedictorian. But Tomko’s impressive athletic resume, combined with her 4.14 grade point average and 1750 Scholastic Aptitude Test scores, catapulted her to the top of her class.

“I always put school ahead of sports,” said Tomko, who helped the Lyndhurst softball team capture the NJSIAA North 2, Group II state sectional championship last month. “I was just able to balance it all.”

Last month, Tomko represented Lyndhurst at the NJSIAA’s 21st Annual Scholar-Athlete awards luncheon at the Pines Manor in Edison.

The state association honored one student from each participating school. In all, the NJSIAA has honored 6,350 scholar-athletes over the last two decades and has presented nearly $1.25 million in scholarships to those recipients.

Tomko was more than overjoyed receiving the award.

“It meant the world to me,” said Tomko, who is headed to the University of Delaware in the fall. “When you’re a high school student-athlete, you don’t get recognized for the student part. This recognized both.”

Another local athlete honored at the NJSIAA Scholar-Athlete awards luncheon was Babatunde Ojo from Queen of Peace.

Ojo, who played football, wrestled, power lifted and participated in track and field at QP, was also honored to be selected to represent his school at the luncheon.

“I was extremely happy to be a part of it,” Ojo said. “Ever since I entered Queen of Peace, I felt like I had more pride than anyone else. I knew deep down that I had a lot of pride representing the school.”

Ojo said that he was pleased that there were other familiar faces at the luncheon.

“There were others who I created friendships with over the years through sports,” Ojo said. “That made the day very enjoyable.”

Ojo said that he prided himself as both a student and an athlete.

“I really can’t describe the pride I had in my schoolwork,” Ojo said. “I knew that my class work would really help the school, as did sports.”

Ojo will major in business and computer science at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in the fall. He carried a 3.7 grade point average and scored 1830 on his SATs.

“I always felt that sports and academics kind of both went hand in hand,” Ojo said. “I was able to deal with all kind of sports and different kinds of technical things in the classroom.”

Other local students honored by the NJSIAA include Rebecca Goncalves of Kearny, Bridget Ismaelito of Bloomfield, Pavel Aparcana of Harrison and Nicholas Perrone of Nutley.

Tomko got the chance to reflect on her incredible high school career.

“I’m actually speechless,” Tomko said. “I can’t believe it’s all over. I can look back with no regrets. I did everything to my best.”

Tomko was asked about if she was more nervous delivering her key speech or delivering a clutch play on the soccer pitch or the softball diamond.

“That’s tough,” Tomko said. “When I was walking out to make the speech, (softball) Coach (Emily) Ringen was standing there. I said to her that I felt like I was going out to play a big game, but there was more excitement to give the speech than it was to play a game. I was more excited than nervous.”

But Tomko delivered the speech, much like she delivered a state sectional championship.

“It doesn’t end any better than that,” Tomko said.

Locals return to St. Peter’s Prep to play football for a cause

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By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer

The 1994 NJSIAA Non- Public A state championship football game between Bergen Catholic and St. Peter’s Prep might have taken place 20 years ago, but don’t dare tell that to Kearny natives Jeff Skinner and Gerry McDermott.

The two former Prep standouts, who combined for the game-clinching touchdown in Giants Stadium on that fateful December afternoon two decades ago, were one of the most prolific passing combinations in the history of the school.

Last Saturday morning, Skinner and McDermott returned to their high school alma mater to participate in a football reunion, a way to raise money for a scholarship foundation named after a guy who was important to both local standouts. S

kinner, McDermott and about 50 or so other former Prep gridiron greats returned to Jersey City to play in the Jerome Pedersen Memorial Football Classic, named after the former Prep do-everything who died tragically at the tender age of 27 in 2001.

“It’s really special to come back,” said Skinner, who quarterbacked the Marauders to the 26-24 upset win over Bergen Catholic, ranked No. 1 in the entire nation at the time, in the state championship game.

“I don’t get the opportunity to come back often and throw the ball around. It’s a lot of fun. Coming back again, it really feels like yesterday. I’m running into people all the time and all they want to do is talk about the 1994 state championship game.” McDermott now lives on Long Island, but most of his family still resides in Kearny. He was at the game with his two young sons and his pregnant wife, due in August.

“I try to get back to Prep at least once or twice a year, but this is special, because I get to run around with Skinner once again.”

The two hooked up for several passes during the games. It looked as if the clock had stopped still.

Skinner went on to play at Wagner, while McDermott played at Fordham.

“It’s great to see good friends and teammates that I played with 20 years ago,” McDermott said. “I still keep in touch with a lot of the guys, but it’s hard to see them all. When you think it’s 20 years ago, it puts everything in perspective. It makes me feel old.”

McDermott said that he was happy to do something to keep the memory of Pedersen, who was known affectionately as “Gee.” Pedersen was the equipment manager, bus driver, assistant trainer, scorekeeper, you name it, down at the Prep during those days.

Photos by Jim Hague Kearny native Jeff Skinner showed that he still had the skills of a quarterback who led St. Peter’s Prep to the 1994 NJSIAA Non- Public A state title.

Photos by Jim Hague
Kearny native Jeff Skinner showed that he still had the skills of a quarterback who led St. Peter’s Prep to the 1994 NJSIAA Non-Public A state title.


“Jerome was such a good guy and such an integral part of our team,” McDermott said. “It’s an excellent opportunity to come back and celebrate a great life. What happened to him was sad, especially at such a young age. It really makes you appreciate things more. I always remember him in that equipment room. I always tried to get something extra, like a better facemask. It was tough to get what I wanted, because of him.”

“It’s a shame that it took so long to get something done like this,” Skinner said. “He did so much for our program and never got the credit. He was one of us.”

Skinner now lives in Glen Rock with his wife and son.

“I’m just glad I can still throw it a little,” Skinner said.

Alfredo Huaranga graduated in 2003, but the Harrison native wanted to be a part of the reunion and to honor Pedersen as well.

“The Prep family is such a tight-knit close family,” said Huaranga, whose wife, Kim, is the athletic director at Harrison High School. “I just love being here. I love Prep. I knew Gee and he was a great guy. He was always there to help us, whether to give us a hand or a ride somewhere. We’re all here together today. Everyone came together finally to remember Jerome and never forget him.”

Rich Hansen, who coached the Marauders’ three state championship squads, including the 1994 team, considered to be the best in the history of the school, felt honored to be part of the celebration, given that he coached all of the players on the field.

“It’s awesome to see so many great guys who meant so much to our program over the years to finally come back and have some fun,” Hansen said. “Maybe they’re rekindling the flame a little. It’s all about memories, a strong family bond we all shared. It’s good to see that.” Hansen was asked if he could believe it was 20 years since Skinner and McDermott combined for that great touchdown catch in Giants Stadium.

“It’s crazy,” Hansen said. “I’ve been to so many of their weddings and then the christening of their children. Time sure flies.”

And Hansen was happy that the day was for such a good cause.

“Gee is the one who breathes the life into all of us,” Hansen said. “If you played here, if you didn’t have the chance to know him, you certainly knew of him. He was important to all of us. That’s what makes this special. It doesn’t matter the generation you came from. You know him. The guys are excited to be here and excited for the cause. I feel good for the Prep football bloodline.”

Lawrence Alexander graduated in 1999, but he remembered Pedersen very well. Alexander was the organizer of the event.

“I lived right around the corner from Gee (in Newark), so many times, I would ride to Prep with him,” Alexander said. “He was a bridge builder for me. He was my friend, my bridge, my caregiver. Once I took off that helmet and headed home, the only one I had was Jerome.” Alexander estimates that the event raised approximately $4,000 for the Jerome Pedersen Memorial Scholarship Fund.

“My goal is to raise the cost of one year tuition for a student,” Alexander said. “When we have days like Saturday, we can’t lose.”

So much so that the Second Annual Jerome Pedersen Football Classic is already scheduled for June 20, 2015.

In that respect, friends like Skinner and McDermott can get together for a few passes then as well.

Then & Now

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If you lived in the northern section of Kearny in the late 19th century, this is where you would go to mail a letter. This photo, circa 1882-86, was taken when James Freeman, postmaster, ran the Arlington Post Office — in the rear of his grocery store. The structure itself is called  The Freeman Building, and, despite having passed by it innumerable times, we never knew it had a name. If we had been more observant, we might have noticed ‘The Freeman’ engraved in stone at the roofline. The imposing red-brick structure is still standing on Midland  Ave. at the corner of Devon St. and over the decades has continued to be home to a variety of commercial tenants. We know that there was once a theater on an upper floor. Is it still there? The awnings and  sidewalk signs are long gone, and an SUV occupies the horse-and-buggy’s parking spot, but look at the chimneys! 

– Karen Zautyk