’15W Picnic’ is Sept. 24 at Riverbank Park


Get ready to party like it’s 1968. Or 1978. Or even 1988.

Why? Because the “Fifth Annual 15W Picnic for Those That Grew Up in Kearny in the ‘60s and ‘70s” is Saturday, Sept. 24, from noon to 6 p.m. at Riverbank Park on Passaic Ave.

The picnic’s organizer, Sharon Dock McKeown, says five years ago, the concept came about as a result of a simple Facebook chat she was having with some of her friends.

“We were just having a discussion and someone said ‘Let’s all get together,’” Dock McKeown said. “I said, ‘I’ll run it.’” And in a couple of days, I had 150 people say they wanted to go. The rest is history.”

The picnic itself, while advertised as an event for people who grew up in Kearny from the late ‘60s to around 1985 is really open to anyone with a Kearny connection who is 21 and older. Being 21 is non-negotiable — so if you’re thinking of coming with your kids, stop right there. Dock McKeown says this is necessary because beer and wine will be served as part of the picnic’s $42 cost, which includes plenty of food to be catered by the Thistle.

There will be fish and chips, burgers, hotdogs — the usual outdoor barbecue fare.

“We’re very strict about the age minimum,” she said. “We have to be for liability purposes.”

Speaking of alcohol, as tempting as it might be, you can’t bring your own booze either — so leave your six packs, wine bottles and hard liquor at home.

The food and drink will also be met with a 50/50. The winner gets 50% of the money raised, usually around $1,000 — and someone from Kearny who is in need will also get 50%. Each year since the picnic’s inception five years ago, Dock McKeown and her planning committee ensure the proceeds remain local — a few years ago, for instance, someone from Kearny who had recently had a heart transplant got the proceeds to help his absurd with medical bills.

If by chance the committee can’t find someone in need, the proceeds will be donated to the Make a Wish Foundation.

“Chances of that are rare, though,” Dock McKeown said. “Unfortunately, there always seems to be someone in need.”

All non-winners of the 50/50 should hold on to their tickets, too. After the grand-prize drawing, ticket holders have a chance to win one of several gift cards to local restaurants, including Harrison’s Spanish Pavilion.

If you’re planning on imbibing whilst at the picnic, Dock McKeown suggests taking Uber, Lyft or a taxi to get to Riverbank Park. Even if you’re not drinking, taking one of the aforementioned modes of transportation might be wise given the limited parking near the park.

The $42 admission cost also covers entertainment. There will be 2 DJs and local bands on hand to perform.

Meanwhile, since the event is coming soon, organizers have set up a PayPal account to accept payments. You don’t even need a PayPal account to pay. Visit bit.ly/15W2016PICNIC to safely pay with a credit card. You can also pay by visiting Dock McKeown at her office at 197 Ridge Road, North Arlington, during regular business hours to pay in cash. But PayPal is preferred.

Dock McKeown says the picnic wouldn’t have been possible without her cohort Cynthia Anderson. And there are plenty of others who help to make the day successful, too, including committee members Mary Rapsas Hague, Linda Anne Kielt Nash, John Downey, Glenn Kempsten and Donna Fender — and Lori Connelly Malley and Marianne Mooney Poplaski, who will tend bar.

Need more details? Search 15W picnic on Facebook.

“We’re really hoping to have yet another great picnic,” Dock McKeown said. “People have come from all over the state to attend — and we even had some who drove up last year from Florida. It’s going to be a great day.”

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, an organization he has served since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and X, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.