As part of our Halloween festivities for the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library, we had a really special event on November 13th, 2013 for a new event we planned called “The Family Night Lecture” that we had just created. Our special guest that evening was Professor Angus Gillespie from the American Studies Department of Rutgers University. He is an expert and lecturer on folklore and myths including the ‘Jersey Devil’.
Professor Angus Gillespie with Professor and Chairman of the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library Justin Watrel
Professor Gillespie was a noted author and he had explained to me that when he originally wrote the book “The Twin Towers: The Life of New York City’s World Trade Center” that it had a press of 2000 copies in 1999 bought mostly by his mother as gifts to her friends. When the Towers fell two year later, the book took off and became a Best Seller and he was flown all over the world as an expert on the history of the Towers. His book “Folklore in the Pine Barrens: A Study of the Pinelands Cultural Society of Waretown” was when the interest of the Jersey Devil began.
‘The Jersey Devil’
It has been a very interesting lecture that had everyone spellbound on the story of the Leeds family. The legend began with the story of Jane Leeds ( or in some historical cases Deborah Leeds) on a stormy night in 1735. Tired and frazzled from her 12 other children who over-worked her, she found that she was pregnant for the 13th time. She exclaimed ” I hope it’s not a child; I hope its the Devil”.
The Leeds former home in the Pine Barrens
On a dark and stormy night she gave birth to the child with friends gathered in the home to witness the birth. The child was born normal and then transformed into a monster of hoofs, a goat’s head, bat’s wings and a forked tail. It then attacked people in the room before it escaped up the chimney. It disappeared into the Pine Barrens and over the years people have claimed to have had encounters with it the latest being in 1909.
Chairman Justin Watrel with Professor Gillespie and members of the Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library at the Junior Friends “Family Night Lecture”
It spellbound most of the crowd who were eager to ask questions. Professor Gillespie lead a discussion on the occurrences and accounts of the sightings over the years that got people thinking, was this thing still alive? The crowd had a wonderful time asking questions and getting a feel for the legend.
It was the last event of the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library that year and a wonderful way to celebrate Halloween. We had a small reception afterwards in Professor Gillespie’s honor.
Chairman & Professor Justin Watrel with Professor Angus Gillespie and Library Director Mimi Hui
To all of my readers and fellow bloggers following my blog, ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’. I created two more blog sites to accompany the main site.
I created ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ and ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com’ to take what I have discovered on the walk around the city and put it into more detail.
I created ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ to feature all the small and medium museums, pocket parks, community gardens and historical sites that I have found along the way in my walking the streets of the island and in the outlining areas of Manhattan. There are loads of sites you can easily miss either by not visiting the neighborhoods by foot or not consulting a guidebook. Most of the these places are not visited by most residents of the City and should not be missed.
I never realized how many small museums exist in New York City, let alone the outer boroughs and in New Jersey. I have discovered so many wonderful and interesting artifacts in these museums that not only have so much historical value but they also deal with local history.
Gallery Bergen at Bergen Community College
There are so many pocket parks, community gardens and historical sites that you would miss if you did not walk the neighborhoods. What has also been fascinating about it is the people you meet along the way that volunteer in these facilities. There is so much pride to be had by these local residents dedicating their time to make these places successful.
‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com’ is my latest site:
I am featuring and promoting wonderful local restaurants that I have found along the way when doing the walk as well as places I have recently visited outside the city for $10.00 and below. I am not just featuring them for their price but for the quality of the food, the selection and the portion size.
Delicious Dumplings at ‘Dumplings’ on Henry Street
These little ‘hole in the wall’ dining establishments offer a good meal at a fair price as well as supporting the local economy. I have a very limited budget for meals and thought this blog site would help all of you economize when touring New York City and the outlying regions. I cross reference my reviews on TripAdvisor.com.
For anyone thinking of doing a similar project like ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’, I want to let you know how expensive it is to do. I have to pay not just for bus tickets, subway passes, meals, donations to museums and historical sites but the general wear and tear on my clothes. I am on my third pair of sneakers due to this walk. This is why you need to set a budget for it:
Please check out my fire fighting blog sites, ‘The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association’, ‘tbcfma.Wordpress.com’, where I am blogging about the activities of the association that I am volunteering for at the home on a quarterly basis and the support that the organization gives to The New Jersey Firemen’s Home in Boonton, New Jersey. Firemen for all over Bergen County, where I live, volunteer their time up at the nursing home with activities to engage and cheer up our fellow fire fighters.
The second site about fire fighting I blog about is ‘The Brothers of Engine One Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department”, ‘EngineOneHasbrouckHeightsFireDepartmentNJ.Wordpress.com’, where I blog about the activities of Engine Company One, in which I am a member, as part of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department. We do a lot of volunteer work for the department and many of our members are very active and hold a lot of positions on the department.
The Brothers of Engine One HHFD (site now closed-Blogs moved to section of MywalkinManhattan.com called “My life as a Fireman”):
The most frequented of my blogs is “BergenCountyCaregiver.com’, a caregivers blog site to help adult caregivers take care of their loved ones. This helps caregivers navigate a very broken system and put all sorts of programs that might help them all in one place to read and chose what might help them. This deals with county, state and federal programs that most social workers miss because there are so many of them that don’t get a lot of attention. It is by far the most popular site.
The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association
I wanted to share these with my readers and thank you for following my main blog, ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’. Please also share this with your friends who are visiting New York City to really tour the city by foot and see it for its own beauty and uniqueness.
This is the second time I have hosted the “Teens, Tots & Toys” holiday event at the Lodi Memorial Library. The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library created “Teens, Tots & Toys” as an alternative to many libraries having a “Story Time with Santa” event that can leave out some children who don’t celebrate Christmas.
Our mascot for the event, “Tinker Street” was created by myself to set the tone for the event and can be seen on YouTube in the video from last year’s event with special invited guest, US & World Figure Skater Elaine Zayak and with this year’s event with Best Selling and Caldecott Medal Winner, Christopher Raschka. We were so happy that two such prominent people wanted to join us for this event.
Chris and I at “Teens, Tots & Toys”
The premise for “Teens, Tots & Tots” is as a holiday event that caters to all children and their families. The Friends wanted to build the event on having a toy drive, a celebrity visit and showing a holiday movie. Last year, we donated toys and books to the Emmanuel Cancer Center in Midland Park, NJ. This is in partnership with the library when they run their Annual Gingerbread House Making event.
This holiday season we were very excited when Best-Selling Children’s Author and Caldecott Medal, Christopher Raschka, decided to join us. I have to admit, we had a lot of communication between each other for over a year and there were a lot of emails going back and forth and time commitments we both had and I was glad that he could join us for our holiday event. I was very excited that he was coming to our library. As the expression says. “Good things come to those who wait” and the visit went beyond my expectations. Everyone had a such a good time.
I had first become acquainted with Chris’s work when a few years earlier I had done another event at my old library with Giant’s player and fellow Cornell University Alumni, Kevin Boothe. Kevin had read from the inspirational book that Chris wrote and illustrated, “Everyone can learn to Ride a Bicycle”. I thought the illustrations were very unique and creative and that is when I thought it would be interesting to have the author come out to the library. It took almost a year and a half of planning.
Giants Player Kevin Boothe reading “Everyone Can Learn to Ride A Bicycle”.
Chris Raschka is a graduate of St. Olaf College in Minnesota who graduated with a degree in Biology. He also has a love for music as he was a member of both the Ann Arbor and Flint Symphony Orchestra’s. While working as an intern at a children’s orthopedic clinic in Germany, he experienced an interest in working with children.
He has received many awards and recognition’s for his work. In 1992, he won the Best Books of the Year citation, the Publisher’s Weekly, the Notable Children’s Book citation, the American Library Association (ALA) and the Pick of the Lists citation, the American Booksellers Association, all for ‘Charlie Parker Played Be Bop’. In 1994, he received the Caldecott Honor Book Award and he was the ALA and US winner of the UNICEF-Ezra Jack Keats award, both for ‘Yo! Yes?’. In 2005, he received the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award nomination for ‘The Hello, Goodbye Window’.
Chris Raschka was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 2006 for his illustrations in the ‘Hello, Goodbye Window’, written by Norton Juster (one of my hands down favorite authors since I was a kid and the author of the ‘Phantom Tollbooth’), a story about a child’s visit to her grandparents. In 2012, he won his second Caldecott Medal for his wordless children’s book, ‘A Ball for Daisy’, that chronicles a little dogs loss of his most prized possession and is a tale of loss, recovery and friendship. We were very lucky that he read from both of these books and from’ Yo! Yes?’
This was no ordinary author visit in that the author sat down, read the books and then led a discussion. Chris got up and engaged the audience with storytelling, acting and illustrations. I have seen many book signings but none like this.
Chris could not have been more personable with both the adults and the children in the audience and had the younger set completely engaged in his books. We first started off with a introduction of his work and a little about himself. Chris started his program with a drawing of his two cats. These two amusing drawings of the little cats made quite an impression on the kids, many of whom had pets at home.
What impressed me the most is when he got the children from the audience to get up and act out his books in character. You don’t see many authors doing that. Chris had children who volunteered from the audience act out the books ‘Yo! Yes?’ , ‘Goosey Goose’ and ‘Buggy Bug’ in a series of short plays. The kids were really excited to get up and act. He also got the audience to participate as well .
Then he did a series of drawings creating pictures using people’s names. He took kids from the audience and asked them to write out their names and then developed a figure of the letters of the names. The best part was each of the children were able to take the picture home. I have the most unusual picture of a person using the my name “Justin” (Yes, I did have it framed).
Chris engaging with the children of Lodi, NJ
Chris followed this with a book discussion of the Caldecott Medal Winning book ‘A Ball for Daisy”, the all picture book. He went through all the frames of the book and then got a group of the children to get up and act out the book using some balloons as props for the ball. He really got the kids to use their emotions in the play and it made the rest of the program very personal because the children could relate to him as another kid. Chris knew how to enter their world.
During the question and answer session, the children had some very interesting questions on how he published his books, where he got his ideas and he put his books together. He even explained how he came up with the idea for ‘A Ball for Daisy’ on an incident that happened with son when he ball was damaged by a neighbors dog. He also discussed how long a book took to develop and where some of his inspirations came from. It really was nice participation from the audience.
To honor Chris’s visit, the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library presented him with an ‘Honorary Membership’ to ‘The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library’ and our Mayor of the Borough of Lodi, Emil Carafa, presented Chris with a Medal of Honor from the Borough of Lodi.
Chris receiving an Honorary Membership to the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library
It was a fun and engaging afternoon and we were very honored to have Christopher Raschka be our guest for the Second Annual ‘Teens, Tots & Toys’ holiday celebration. We will see everyone next December for the Third Annual “Teens, Tots & Toys” celebration.
Chris with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library
Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year from the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library!
(The Legend of Tinker Street was created by Justin Watrel for the holiday event, “Teens, Tots & Toys” for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library)
Teens, Tots & Toys Mascot, the holiday elf, Tinker Street, is a lovable little prankster who lives in the valley of the Catskills Mountains in which the downtown Main Street of Woodstock, NY is named after.
Tinker Street is a gregarious, generous elf who represents the happiness, generosity and thoughtful charity during the holiday season. Tinker Street does not represent one holiday but all holidays celebrated where love, family and get-togetherness are found. Coming out of his home only on December 1st of each year, you can never truly see Tinker Street. You can only feel him when good thoughts pass through you, when a good deed is done and when helping another person is done with great kindness.
Tinker Street is an elf of great kindness and tolerance and where you find him is in the understanding that no two holidays are alike so respect for all of them is very important. The true meaning from a visit from Tinker Street is the generosity to charity, the thoughtfulness of a distant family member or friend and looking back to the kindness and remembrance of someone who is gone but not forgotten. When we receive a visit from Tinker Street, we see only the best in ourselves and others around us.
When you see a big smile on someone’s face or happy laughter in a gathering, you know Tinker Street has been there. So to be part of the holiday celebration of “Teens, Tots & Toys”, we wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season and experience the magic in the days ahead.
Only Tinker Street can add a certain joy to the holidays and that’s the symbol of “Teens, Tots & Toys”.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library!
The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library with World Champion Skater, Elaine Zayak, at the first “Teens. Tots & Toys” in 2015.
The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library at the Second Annual “Teens, Tots & Toys” with Best Selling Author Christopher Raschka in 2016.
Join us again at the Lodi Memorial Library next December for ‘Teens, Tots & Toys 2017’
I have had to put my walk on hold again for a month as I was organizing another visit from the Bergen County Zoo to the Lodi Memorial Library. The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library decided to do a series of events with the theme “Follow the Yellow Brick Road Back to You Library”.
Our first event was the visit from Miss New Jersey 2016 Brenna Weick and finished with a huge fundraiser at Friendly’s Restaurant in Woodland Park, New Jersey. We reached out to the Lodi Community and the surrounding towns with engaging, innovative programming that appeals to all ages.
This event featured two innovative programs that were created by the Bergen County Zoo exclusively for the library, “Dorothy’s Barnyard Animals” and “The Tales of Flying Monkey’s”. Both programs included a reading of the book ‘The Wizard of Oz’ tailored to that program.
The Tales of Flying Monkeys was the first theme of the event
In the first program, “Dorothy’s Barnyard Animals”, zoo educator Carol Fusco created a program to show the children and their parents what animals live in a barnyard and what animals ‘Dorothy’ might have taken care of while working on the farm. She went through what animals are available to see at the zoo versus what animals you might see on a working farm in New Jersey and beyond. She then asked the kids what animals they have seen recently to a very engaging discussion of what is in their own backyards.
Dorothy’s Barnyard Animals was the second theme for the event
Then she brought out a special guest, ‘Butterscotch’ the chicken, who came out to visit us all the way from the Bergen County Zoo. This gentle little bird was so friendly I swear that she smiled at me. The kids just loved her and some of them got to pet her. I can tell you that that chicken did not blink and the kids got such a kick out of it (I could tell the parents did as well with the big smile on some of their faces).
The second program, “The Tales of Flying Monkey’s”, Carol and her partner from the zoo read a section of the book after Dorothy had melted the Wicked Witch of the West and how the monkeys were indebted to Dorothy for freeing them from the clutches of the evil witch. They explained who the monkey’s really were to the kids and made them less afraid of them. I thought it was an interesting they took that perspective on how misunderstood the characters were in the movie versus the book.
“Tales of Flying Monkeys”
Then there was a discussion of mammals who fly and there place in the wild. There was an interesting discussion how animals fly and the place in nature that they had. The educators passed around pictures of different animals and explained how they live in the wild. For a program that was geared to kids from the first grade to third grade I really learned a lot. I never knew that much about animals from the perspective of the zoo keepers but it opened my eyes on their place in society. Plus I got a kick out of holding the chicken. It is really a great chicken.
We had about 30 people at the event and a mixture of age groups including a lot of parents and grandparents join us for the afternoon. I even had the parents walk up to me and say that they learned a lot as well. That made me feel good that the Friends could offer such a nice educational program that engaged the kids and got them off their cell phones. It was a younger crowd then I had thought we would attract but it seemed to me that the families all had a good time and were happy that the zoo came to them.
The program was followed by a light reception with all sorts of cookies, fresh fruit, wrap sandwiches and chicken fingers that were donated by Inserra ShopRite of Lodi. We want to thank them and Inserra Supermarkets for their support. Thank you!
For those who have never been to the Bergen County Zoo, it is a real treat. It is located in Paramus, New Jersey in the Van Saun Park off Forrest Avenue. It is a real treat and has a nice selection of animals to visit and more creative programming to experience. A big Thank you to Carol Fusco and her team for creating such a great program for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library.
Thank you to everyone who participated and we hope you enjoyed the program.
Articles on the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library events:
I took time out of my walk in Manhattan to run another event for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library. The Friends had planned a series of Fall events around the theme “Follow the Yellow Brick Road Back to Your Library”, to encourage residents of Lodi to come back and see the changes at their library and in celebration of the 116th Anniversary of the novel “The Wizard of Oz”. In celebration of the books anniversary, we invited Miss New Jersey 2016 Miss Brenna Weick to join in the celebration.
Miss Weick is a 22 year old college graduate from Mantua, New Jersey. She earned a BS in Psychology with a minor in Communications from High Point University. She is the recipient of a number of scholastic awards including the High Point University Academic Achievement Award Scholarship and the Alpha Gamma Delta “Strive for Pi” Academic Excellence Award. She was the recipient of both the Miss New Jersey and Miss America Community Service Awards and earned the Bronze medal for participation in the Duke of Edinburgh program through the Miss America Organization.
This delightful afternoon started with a reading from the novel “The Wizard of Oz”, with Miss Weick reading to an audience of over 60 children and their parents. She read several passages on the trip to Oz and some of the background stories of the main characters.
The reading was followed by a Q & A on Miss Weick’s role as Miss New Jersey and being an ambassador of the Miss America Pageant. She also engaged the audience with her time at the recent Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City. It was interesting to learn how the pageant worked, the experiences she had meeting all the other contestants and her role at the pageant as the home town favorite.
She also talked about the work she is doing all over the state with her platform “A World of Difference: Navigating the Cybersphere”, where her aim is to teach generations (young and old) how use the Internet safely and with integrity. She has utilized this platform to host seminars for parents and senior citizens in an attempt to bridge the gap that has been created with the growth of technology.
Miss Weick, in keeping with the theme of the event sang “Over the Rainbow” to the audience. Miss Weick had played the role of ‘Dorothy’ in her high school production of the ‘Wizard of Oz’ her senior year. It was a delight to the whole audience and everyone enjoyed it. We also asked if she could sing the song that she sang at the Miss America pageant ‘Someone like You’ from the musical Jekyll & Hyde. Her perfect rendition of the song brought the house down with a loud applause from the audience.
When the Q & A was over, the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library made a special presentation to Miss Weick. Friends member Marie Shrieks made a presentation to Miss Weick from the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library making her an ‘Honorary Member’ of the Friends of the Library and Library Director Karyn Gost presented her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers from the library staff. Councilwoman Patricia Licata from the Lodi Borough Council greeted Miss Weick as well.
Patricia Licata, Brenna Weick and Justin Watrel at “Celebrating Books: the 116th Anniversary of ‘The Wizard of Oz’
After the program was over, Miss Weick stayed and signed autographed head shots from the pageant and “Wizard of Oz” books that the Friends were selling to raise money. She was engaging to residents and Friends of all ages.
The afternoon was followed by an light reception in Miss Weick’s honor that everyone was invited to that was sponsored by Shoprite of Lodi and we ended the afternoon with a showing in the upstairs screening room of the 1939 version of “The Wizard of Oz” starring Judy Garland.
Justin Watrel presenting Brenna Weick an Honorary Membership to the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library
It was a wonderful afternoon to everyone who attended and the Friends got many compliments about the event. Hats off to Miss New Jersey 2016 Miss Brenna Weick who is representing the State of New Jersey with grace and dignity and being a true “Friend of the Library”.
Brenna Weick singing “Over the Rainbow” to the crowd
Think about joining the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library.
I want to credit this video to Marc Nazeh for this video at the Lodi Memorial Library
The video presentation of the wonderful afternoon on YouTube.
We asked Miss Weick to sing this song from the ‘Miss America Talent’ portion
Check out Articles on the Event and others for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library:
National Library Week at the Lodi Memorial Library on April 18,2016
I took some time out from my walk to organize another celebrity visit to the Lodi Memorial Library for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library. As part of National Library Week, we extended the event by one day and welcomed to the library NY Red Bulls II goalie Rafael Diaz, a local New Jersey resident who is becoming a much talked about player on the NY Red Bulls MLS.
Rafael Diaz reading “Oh the Places you will Go”
As with all the events for the library, this one took about four and a half months to organize. One of the younger patrons who had come to ‘Teens, Tots & Toys’ when Elaine Zayak visited the library asked after the event was over would it be possible to bring in a professional soccer player. I said that I would try and the next day I found myself emailing the NY Red Bulls MLS Organization. I was very lucky that I found a person in the PR Department of the Red Bulls who was very nice and really wanted to help me out. I have to say that the event exceeded all my expectations and we had a really good turn out of over 50 kids and an additional 30 adults at the book reading and Q & A after the reading.
The following is the bio of Mr. Diaz that we read at the event:
“Welcome everyone to the Lodi Memorial Library on the final day of National Library Week. The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library and staff of the Lodi Memorial Library welcome with honor a young man who is making New Jersey proud, Mr. Rafael Diaz.
Mr. Diaz was born in the Dominican Republic and spent part of his early childhood locally in Paterson, NJ. Later he moved to Rockaway, NJ with his family and is a graduate of Morris Hills High School. While with the Scarlet Knights of Morris Hills for three seasons he was the starting goalkeeper and served as team captain his senior year.
He earned NSCAA New Jersey Player of the Year and New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year honors his senior year. He was two-time NSCAA High School All-American and two time NSCAA High School All-Region selection, two time first team All-State, All-Area and All-Morris County and a three time All-Conference
As a student at St. John’s University majoring in Sports Management, as a Red-Shirted Freshman, he earned Second team Soccer American All-Freshman Honors, a Big East All-Rookie of the Year and started all 18 games with a posted record of 10-6-2. As a sophomore, he started 15 games and went 9-4-1 and recorded seven shutouts. As a junior was a second team NSCAA All-Northeast Region selection, a first team All-Big East honoree, started all 19 games and posted a record of 10-5-4 with eight shutouts. He was the All-Time shutout leader at St. John’s University.
Mr. Diaz at the Q & A at the Lodi Memorial Library in Lodi, NJ
After finishing at St. John’s University, he signed his first contract with the United Soccer League’s Orlando City Soccer Club and made his first team debut with Orlando on May 14, 2014 with a 4-1 win. During the 2015 season, he went through a trial with the Red Bulls Major Soccer League Club and signed with the New York Red Bulls II for the season and made the game day roster for the side in its first ever match on March 28, 2015 and his debut with the team on April 12, 2015 and his debut as a starter for the New York Red Bulls II on April 18, 2015 in a 1-1 draw against the Charleston Battery.”
The event was extremely well received by the library patrons and the community as well. We had a very long question and answer session and it was fun to watch many star-eyed children ask engaging questions to Mr. Diaz. Mr. Diaz was every bit the gentleman talking to all the kids and adults alike about his career, his goals and his own heroes.
The Q & A was followed by a presentation by our President of the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library, Mrs. Judy Schroeder, who presented Mr. Diaz with an Honorary Membership to the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library and our Library Director Siobhan Koch, who presented Mr. Diaz with a special gift set of the books of “Oh, the Places You will Go” and “Oh, the Places you want to Go” by Dr. Seuss.
The highlight of the afternoon was being joined by our Mayor of the Borough of Lodi, Mayor Emil Carafa. Mayor Carafa gave an enlightened talk about reaching your goals through hard work. He then presented Mr. Diaz with a proclamation from the town and a medal from the Borough of Lodi. We could all see that Mr. Diaz was touched.
Mr. Diaz with his Honorable Mayor Emil Carafa
After the event was over, we had a reception with light refreshments to everyone who joined us that afternoon. Mr. Diaz and staff from the Red Bulls joined us later to tell us what a nice time they had at the library.
The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library want to thank the NY Red Bulls II for letting Mr. Diaz visit us and a big hats off to Rafael Diaz, who showed true sportsmanship and a real role model to all of our patrons.
Thank you to everyone who helped with the event.
Enjoy this video of the event with Rafael Diaz!
Articles on the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library:
I took some time out from my walk to run an event for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library which is located in Lodi, NJ. I started to get involved in the Friends group last September and that has lead to many interesting visits from celebrities and athletes. Our latest guest helped us welcome in the first day of Spring (which ironically came after a snow storm the day before in which the heat melted all the snow before the event). His name was ‘Lodi Larry, the Rabbit’ and his home is the Bergen County Zoo.
The event was in response to our version of ‘Groundhog’s Day’, when we could not find a groundhog anywhere in Bergen County, NJ. Not one zoo or natural center had one. So when I approached a friend of mine who works at the zoo about one and she could not find one, she suggested the rabbit that they use for children’s events. With that in mind and not wanting to get caught in a snow storm for the event, we moved the event to the first day of Spring with the theme “Lodi Larry comes to the Library”.
I was supposed to have only 25 children and their parents but word got out and we ended up with almost 40 children and almost 50 parents and grandparents. This was the first of the three events that I ran for the library since I joined that was a complete sell-out and then some. It was nice to see kids of all ages out to hear the program and participate in the question and answer session.
The only big problem we had was one of the volunteers from the zoo. The program was called “Lodi Larry comes to the Library on the First Day of Spring”. She got up and said, “I don’t know about the rabbit being from Lodi, but this rabbit’s name is Roger, not Larry.” Then she proceeded on with the event. If ever there was a time that someone screwed up, it was then. I was lucky that no one really noticed and the kids and parents had such a good time for the two programs that it was forgotten. I pulled her aside later and explained everything in detail about the program.
Outside that little mishap, the programs went off without a hitch. Our first event was a program called ‘Wild & Crafty Animal Tales’, where the kids listened to the story “Make room for the Bunny” and then did a bunny craft. After that the kids got in line to meet the rabbit. That was a big deal for all the small kids. The rabbit seemed very happy with the kids and did not make a fuss. All the kids seemed to enjoy petting the rabbit.
Then our second program “In My Backyard”, took place right after the first program. The theme was that the zoo is a great place to see exotic animals but children can see wild animals every day right in their own backyards. The program induced children to identifying and safely observing New Jersey’s wildlife. Here the kids got to see a real turtle, something that has become very rare in the wilds of New Jersey. I was amazed on how children were so excited on seeing a turtle.
After both programs were over, we had a question and answer time with the staff from the zoo. Some of the questions these kids had were so observant and interesting. So much for the theory that kids today are obsessed with their cellphones. Put a turtle or a rabbit in front of them and they are no different then we were in the 70’s and 80’s.
When the question and answers were over, we had a really nice reception that was catered by our local ShopRite supermarket. Everyone was really impressed with the food. We had a six foot Italian sub that was cut into pieces for us, five pounds of Italian cookies, five pounds of cut fruit, bags of salty snacks and assorted water and juices. I have never seen such a reaction to food before. The site of a colorful buffet of refreshments really brought out the excitement of people. They formed two lines and when I am saying there was not a crumb left of food, there was nothing left. The platters were stripped clean. I was happy that there were no leftovers.
People left and they were all saying that they had a good time. The kids loved their little crafts and clean up was so easy because they brought everything home. Its nice to see a crowd of happy faces leaving the library and hopefully this starts a trend of very successful programming.
I wanted to send a big ‘thank you’ to Mayor Emil Carafa and the entire Lodi Borough Council for their support, Superintendent of School’s Frank Quatrone for all his help getting the word out to the schools, the Lodi Boys & Girls Club, the Lodi Senior Club, Library Director Siobhan Koch and her staff for the filming of the program, picture taking and for helping with the reservations. A big ‘thank you’ to the Lodi Memorial Library’s Library Board and a another big ‘thank you’ to Friends President Judy Schroeder, Treasurer Edith Witte and Board Member Marilyn De Molli for all of their assistance on the event plus all the support from the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library.
Now back to the ‘Walk in Manhattan’.
Enjoy this three part video of the event at the Lodi Memorial Library. It would have been one solid video but one the volunteers made a serious boo-boo during the event.
Articles on The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library:
One of the projects that I was working on as the Junior Friends Chair of another Friends group two years ago was the holiday event, “Teens, Tots & Toys: the Holiday Festival” an all day event that was filled with movies, craft making and celebrity visits all to raise funds and collect toys for the Emmanuel Cancer Foundation of Midland Park, NJ. It had all been planned and then got cancelled. It was an omen too as it snowed the entire day that year and all holiday events had to be cancelled.
It was time to put the event into motion. As my holiday activities were in full swing, we had just finished Christmas tree sales selling 240 trees through our Men’s Association, Christmas Decorating judging with the Mayor’s Celebration Committee, visits to help out in the Soup Kitchen, the fire department’s Annual ‘Santa Around Town’ and volunteering for the Sinterklaas parade, ‘Teens, Tots & Toys’ was the last big event on my list of holiday events.
We invited US Champion, World Champion and Olympian Elaine Zayak to join us for a book reading, Q & A and then an autograph session to be followed by two movies and then lastly gingerbread house making. I knew it was going to be a long day. It had taken six weeks to plan.
Even though the crowds were low (I never understand the patrons of this library that don’t appreciate a really great free event), the event went off nicely. Elaine showed up with her son, Jack and could not have been friendlier. She had just come back from teaching at the Hackensack Ice House and was dressed in her US Figure Skating jacket. She was a true professional.
Elaine Zayak in 1994 when she came back at the United States National Champions
I felt embarrassed by the turnout but Elaine was like don’t worry about it. She had been through this before at book signings. She had been at ones where there were five people and some where there were fifty. She told me she wanted to have something where she and Jack could spend the day with each other and she could involved him. The afternoon was perfect for that.
We started the afternoon with a warm welcome to the crowd that was there and wished everyone a Happy Holiday season. Then I went on to talk about the Legend of ‘Tinker Street’, the magical elf, who the event was honoring and then I introduced Elaine.
‘Tinker Street, the Elf’
A lot of the audience did not know of the contributions to figure skating that Elaine had done. She had introduced so many triple jumps into her skating program when she was starting out that the famous ‘Zayak Rule’ had been created to limit the amount of jumps that you could have in a program. She also brought a sense of athleticism to the sport by encouraging skaters to not just use a sense of style but a sense power to the sport. This gave it a strong point after the ‘figures’ went away in the judging.
Elaine read along with her son, Jack, from the book the “Skating Shoes’ by Noel Streatfeild. This book was made famous by the movie, “You got Mail” when Meg Ryan mentions the book to a bookstore patron. It was a very uplifting book about two friends and fellow skaters who were starting to compete against each other. The two of them took time to read from the book.
Elaine Zayak and her son, Jack
During the Q & A, there were some interesting questions that many of the Friends members had such as her competitions, what it was like to be in the Olympics, many of the famous skaters that she competed with and against, the Tonya/Nancy affair that was taking place at the same time at Nationals in 1994 and what she was doing today. She took a lot of pride in what she was doing with her teaching and encouraging young skaters.
Ms. Zayak with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library
We filmed the entire event and unfortunately the Mayor had been a little late because of a mix up in the time so we were able to refilm this segment of the program. We as the Friends, lead by our President Judy Schroeder, presented Elaine with an honorarium making her a member of the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library, the Library Director Siobhan Koch presented Elaine with her own copy of the book, “The Skating Shoes” and then the Mayor made his presentation.
Lodi, NJ Mayor Emil Carafa with Ms. Zayak
Lodi Borough Mayor Emil Carafa presented Elaine Zayak with an official medal from the Borough of Lodi, New Jersey and then placed the medal on her and read a proclamation from the Borough of Lodi honoring her many accomplishments. It was very touching to both her and the audience. Another nice thing about it is that the Mayor remembered when she was still skating as a teen and helping raise money for her to compete. Elaine also donated her fee to her two favorite charities, which we thought was very nice of her.
Mayor Carafa with Ms. Zayak
Everyone then joined us for a reception in honor of her visit. We had a beautiful spread of food donated by Inserra Shoprite of Lodi, New Jersey. The reception included a six foot Italian hoagie, a platter of fresh cut fruit, three trays of assorted cookies, assorted chips and assorted juices, bottled waters and sodas that the patrons could enjoy. Elaine’s son, Jack, really seemed to enjoy himself, first helping his mom with the book reading and then enjoying the good food.
The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library presenting Ms. Zayak with a membership to ‘The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library’
After Elaine and Jack left for the afternoon, we showed the film ‘Arthur Christmas’, the story about one of Santa’s two sons who helps save Christmas for one little girl whose gift was left behind in the North Pole. It is a very uplifting movie about the true meaning of the holiday and the spirit of giving.
After the movie, about fifteen families with about thirty children participated in the first annual making of Gingerbread houses, in which everyone looked like they had a lot of fun. You should have seen some of the creations that came out of that afternoon, made of icing and candies.
Although we did not have the crowd that we thought we would, everyone who came had a very nice time with the event. There is still a lot we have to learn about running these events, the patrons who came had a nice time meeting Elaine Zayak and her son, watching the film and creating the gingerbread houses.
This is what I read from the Legend of Tinker Street, the Magical Elf:
‘The Legend of Tinker Street’
Teens, Tots & Toys Mascot, the holiday elf, Tinker Street, is a lovable little prankster, who lives in the valley of the Catskills Mountains in which the downtown Main Street of Woodstock, NY is named after.
Tinker Street is a gregarious, generous elf who represents the happiness, generosity and thoughtful charity during the holiday season. Tinker Street does not represent one holiday but all holidays celebrated where love, family and get-togetherness are found.
Coming out of his home only on December 1st of each year, you can never truly see Tinker Street. You can only feel him when good thoughts pass through you, when a good deed is done and when helping another person is done with great kindness.
Tinker Street is an elf of great kindness and tolerance and where you find him is in the understanding that no two holidays are alike so respect for them is very important. The true meaning from a visit from Tinker Street is the generosity to charity, the thoughtfulness of a distant family member or friend and looking back to the kindness and remembrance of someone who is gone but not forgotten.
When we receive a visit from Tinker Street, we see only the best in ourselves and others around us. When you see a big smile on someone’s face or happy laughter in a gathering, you know Tinker Street has been there.
So to be part of the very first celebration of “Teens, Tots & Toys”, we wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season and experience the magic in the days ahead.’
This event also raised the awareness of the Emmanuel Cancer Foundation of Midland Park, New Jersey and the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library donated the next week around fifty toys and forty children’s books from the library that were donated to the charity, which helps families with children with cancer. It was a big plus to the Foundation of our donation and it helped so many children in a tough holiday season.
For all you patrons who attended the event or donated toys to help, thank you all from the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library for making such a big difference in a strangers life. You all show the true meaning of the holidays by giving of yourselves and commitment to charity.
Merry Christmas to you all!
Please enjoy this two part video of Elaine Zayak’s visit to the Lodi Memorial Library and her ‘key to the city’ presentation by the Mayor of Lodi, Emil Cafara!
Elaine Zayak’s Reading at the Lodi Memorial Library’s “First Annual Teens, Tots & Toys”
Elaine Zayak being presented Honorariums from The Lodi Memorial Library and the Mayor of Lodi, NJ presenting her the medal from the Borough of Lodi, NJ.
Elaine Zayak receiving a “Key to the City” medal to Lodi, NJ
Elaine Zayak at the U.S. Nationals
Elaine Zayak in the 1994 National Championships
Articles on the event for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library:
Our full page coverage in The Community News December 2015
I took time out from my walk in Manhattan to run a second special event for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library. We celebrated this Friday the 13th with a special retrospect of showing the original uncut version of the 1980 classic film, “Friday the 13th” starring Betsy Palmer and Adrienne King. This was the second special event I ran since joining the Friends in September.
We opened the retrospect with a talk on the film, followed by the uncut original film. In today’s terms, this film is rather tame in comparison to some PG-13 films and video games which I think are much more graphic. In its day though, this was a real eye-opener in film making and introduced the 80’s to the genre along with the movie ‘Halloween’ to the slasher film.
The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library at the “Friday the 13th” retrospect
We set up a complete concession stand with movie candy, various snacks and chips and beverages to the audience. It was a special treat to many who had never seen the film and managed to jump at the right times.
We ended the retrospect with an interview with Don Stein, a local Lodi resident who was a Scout Master at Camp No Be Bo Ca (North Bergen Boy Scout Camp) thirty five years ago. He told our YouTube audience about his time with helping prepare the camp for the filming and assisting the producers with the sets. What was interesting about the interview is how he described how the storm scenes were done with the Blairstown Fire Department shooting water all over the set and rocking the vehicles to make them look like they were going through the storm. You can see the whole interview on YouTube.
The movie “Friday the 13th”
We had tried to get an actor who was in the film to come out and talk to the crowd about their time on the film but Melissa Merindino (Betsy Palmer’s daughter), Marc Nelson and Peter Brouwer all turned us down. It seemed to be the consensus of the actors that they did not want to have an association to the film anymore. Some like Adrienne King embrace the film and promote it. I respected their thoughts and feelings toward the film even though we would have loved to host any or all of them.
Justin Watrel giving the introduction to the film
We were able to interview that evening local Lodi residents, Donald and Marie Stein after the filming. Don Stein, the President of the Lodi Senior group, was a Boy Scout Master the summer of the filming of the movie and talked with us about his time helping the film crew on the set. He and others Scout leaders helped the Boonton Fire Department with some of the scenes. Although he did not meet any of the actors personally, he talked about how the film was made and his time on the set. Please see the the YouTube video ‘An interview with Don Stein at the 35th Anniversary of the film “Friday the 13th” at the Lodi Memorial Library’ on the Lodi Memorial Library Video Library.
Overall it was a big success to those who attended and I hope you access the video on YouTube “Friday the 13th” at the Lodi Memorial Library and my interview with Lodi resident Donald Stein, who worked on the film helping the Blairstown Fire Department when he was a scout master at Camp NoBeBoCo (North Bergen Boy Scout Camp) in 1979.
Justin Watrel’s introduction to the ‘Friday the 13th” 30 Anniversary Retrospect:
After the movie was over, we had the discussion with Donald Stein but the movie is what people came for. This is the introduction to the film. It is still scary after all these years.
Part One of the Movie “Friday the 13th”
The Making of “Friday the 13th”
I hope you enjoy our retrospect. It was a lot of fun.
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