Town won’t stand for chairs on Vets Field


Now that summer is rapidly approaching, Kearny town officials are gearing up for the traditional Independence Day celebration at Veteran’s Memorial Field.

But now that the field has been made over with artificial turf, the town wants to ensure that its surface is adequately protected.

To that end, the town is asking residents not to bring lawn chairs on to the field for the holiday fest. Blankets for reclining on the grounds, however, are acceptable.

Ralph Cattafi, the town’s director of recreation, disclosed that change in policy at a recent meeting of the municipal governing body when asked for a preview of the July 4th event.

As part of the safety steps being taken, Cattafi said he would be positioning the musicians engaged to play on a platform to be carefully assembled on the field.

Additionally, the Kearny Police Department’s “eye in the sky” tower will be relocated to a vantage point outside the field, he said.

And there will be absolutely no vehicular parking on the field, said Cattafi, even for people working at the event looking to make a quick getaway. “I’m not going to permit anyone to drive on the field,” he said.

Nor will anyone be allowed to bring food on to the field, although bottled water and non-alcoholic drinks will probably be allowed, he said.

Other activities associated with the July 4th event, such as pony rides, inflatables and food vendors, will be set up along Belgrove Drive, Cattafi said.

To better ensure crowd control and enforcement of field-access rules, Cattafi said residents will be directed to two or three entrances to the field, one on Afton St. and, most likely, two on Belgrove.

“We’ll have security guards posted at access points,” he said.

Temporary fencing on the field which is used to separate playing areas will be removed to accommodate the expected crowd, Cattafi said. “We may use that fencing to block off areas we feel need to be secured.”

In response to suggestions by several Town Council members, Neglia Engineering, the town’s consulting engineers, investigated the possibility of leasing or purchasing a tarpaulin to use as a cover for the field but Cattafi told The Observer he’s inclined not to do it because he believes the field will be sufficiently protected without it.

“From the middle of March, when the job was essentially completed, until now,” Cattafi said, “we’ve probably had several thousand kids using that field and we’ve had no issues.”

As the final details are nailed down, they will be posted on the town website,, Cattafi said. In the meantime, here is a tentative schedule for the July 4th extravaganza:

  • Starting at about 6:30 p.m., along Belgrove, there will be a children’s program, including KFD wet-down with hoses, a bounce house and inflatables provided by Any Excuse for a Party of Fairfield, and kids riding three ponies furnished by Equis Share of Morristown. These will continue for a couple of hours.
  • At around 7 p.m., on the field, the Garden State Concert Band, of Bloomfield, led by Dominic Ferrera Jr., will begin performing a medley of patriotic music that will run between 90 minutes and two hours.
  • During the concert intermission, recreation staff will set up stations on the field where kids will be treated to magic acts by Eric Appels of Hopelawn and clown face-painting.
  • At around 9:10 or 9:15 p.m., the day’s activities will culminate with the big anticipated highlight as Garden State Fireworks of Millington lights up the sky with a 10- to 15-minute show.

Cattafi said his department has budgeted about $30,000 in personnel and vendor costs for the event. There will be additional expenses for police and public works but those figures were not yet available at press time.

For last year’s celebration, Cattafi estimated that between 8,000 and 10,000 visitors attended and he figures this year’s event is likely to draw a similar number.

“We’re excited,” Cattafi said. “We’re going to give a good show and we want everyone to walk away saying, ‘Wow!’’’

The rain date for the event is July 5.



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