Bicentennial celebration begins to take shape


By Ron Leir

BLOOMFIELD – Back in 1962, the graduating class of Bloomfield High School buried a time capsule with instructions that the capsule should be opened 50 years later on Memorial Day.

That day is now only a few months away, and just a week after the township’s 200th birthday.

That capsule, which was reportedly uncovered during the high school’s reconstruction in 2005-2006, has since been relocated to the Municipal Building for safekeeping.

So what’s in the time capsule?

That’s just one of the surprises in store for the Bloomfield Bicentennial celebrants, scheduled to kick off the festivities – which will stretch over several months – on March 23 at Bloomfield High School.

Former Councilwoman Janice Litteiro, who is chairing the Bicentennial Committee of some 30 volunteers, and Michael Sceurman, township director of recreation and township liaison to the committee, have come up with the skeleton of a battle plan for the mammoth undertaking.

Details will be fleshed out by seven sub-committees whose members figure to be meeting regularly to ensure that the township party runs smoothly. They’ll be responsible for such tasks as coordinating major events, publicity, research, finance and fundraising, school programs and volunteer management.

“We’re looking to a year of educating people about Bloomfield, honoring our past, celebrating our beautiful township and its people, and, hopefully, building our future,” Litteiro said.

For the March 23 kickoff – which was moved from Bloomfield College to the high school to accommodate a bigger crowd – Litteiro anticipates a scenario that has high school band members playing music, an Eagle scout leading the flag salute, vocalist Molly Frieri singing the National Anthem and a fife and drum rendition introducing an appearance of actor John Cataldo, costumed as Gen. Joseph Bloomfield, a former Revolutionary War major, ex-N.J. governor, Congressman and abolitionist, for whom the township is named.

The township incorporation charter would be read aloud and various dignitaries would be called from the audience to do a ceremonial signing.

At some point, Litteiro said, she’ll give a welcoming speech and a power point presentation that will outline the various birthday events that will unfold during the year along with a timeline for those programs.

Some of the spring events planned include the planting of a bicentennial tree (whose seedling was reportedly grown by NASA astronauts in space) in conjunction with National Arbor Day on April 27; a bicentennial concert by the Bloomfield Music Federation on April 29 at the Middle School; the annual Memorial Day Parade with a bicentennial flavor and members of the Bloomfield High Class of ’62 opening the time capsule.

Others still in the formative planning stages, according to Sceurman, are a summer concert series; the annual Sunset Classic 5-mile run through the township sponsored by the Bloomfield Education Foundation on June 28, for which local homes and businesses could be decorated with bicentennial bunting; a Bloomfield Pride Day, held as an extension of National Night Out, on Aug. 7, when neighbors could organize block parties, picnics and barbecues.

Also in the talking stages are a talent show and a monthly lecture series sponsored by the Bloomfield Historical Society. So says Bloomfield Buzz, a township publication.

Litteiro said she’s working with Glenn Davidson, a TV production director at Montclair University, on a “roving camera” project aimed at assembling a collection of Bloomfield residents and merchants extending birthday greetings to the township.

“It would be like a PSA (public service announcement) that we could maybe air on Channel 35, our public access channel, if we can work out the legalities,” Litteiro said.

The bicentennial celebration figures to culminate with the township’s annual holiday tree lighting on the first Monday in December.

A township bicentennial website, which will be periodically updated, is set to launch Jan. 14, Sceurman said.

Based on preliminary estimates, Sceurman figures the committee will need to raise between $7,000 and $10,000 from private sources to pull off the birthday extravaganza. No taxpayer funds are being applied to the venture, he said.

To help subsidize the project, Sceurman said the committee will be looking to develop at least three potential money-making enterprises: producing a bicentennial anniversary medallion that could be sold to the public; marketing a bicentennial flag or banner that residents and businesses could display; and publishing a bicentennial cookbook by soliciting recipes from the public and offering that as a saleable keepsake.

Asked if the committee was considering publishing a bicentennial history of Bloomfield, Sceurman said such an undertaking appeared to be beyond the capacity of local sources.

“About 10 years ago, my uncle Mark Sceurman, with help from Jean Kuras, president of the Bloomfield Historical Society, and Frederick Branch, wrote a township history and that was followed a couple of years later with ‘Bloomfield Revisited,’ an updated history,” Sceurman recalled.

It was hoped that these versions could be melded with a recently done history of Bloomfield schools but that proposal proved too daunting, he said.

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