Category Archives: Exploring Lodi, New Jersey

Giggles the Scarecrow

Day One Hundred and Eighty-One: The Legend of “Giggles the Scarecrow”-Halloween continued October 31st, 2020

Every October my neighbors decorate their home to the hilt on Halloween and every year they drag out this strange scarecrow out among their other decorations. I tease my neighbor that it looks like it wants to “rape and pillage the neighborhood”. I just think the thing looks mischiefest. She just laughs at me.

So over the years I have named this decoration “Giggles the Scarecrow” and created a story line for him:

“The Legend of Giggles the Scarecrow”:

“When bad boys and girls come to our neighborhood on Halloween Night ready to perform more tricks then treats, Giggles will come to life and grab’em. He will then take’em away to his haunted home in the woods. Hee, Hee, Hee.”

Okay, I had a lot of time on my hands to think on Halloween Night. It is the era of COVID.

What do you think? Do you want to test the “Legend of Giggles the Scarecrow”?

Giggles the Scarecrow

“Giggles the Scarecrow” on Halloween day in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ.

Day One Hundred and Twenty-Six: Here come the Christmas Trees for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ (HHMA) November 24th, 2018 (again in November 27th, 2019 & November 27th, 2020)

Let’s keep the momentum going in 2020! Let’s not let COVID wreck our holiday season! We have 375 trees to sell!

The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association at the Christmas tree drop off November 24th, 2020.

On the corner of Franklin and Terrace Avenues in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ just over the George Washington Bridge.

I am very proud to say that we SOLD OUT on Friday, December 11th!

Thank you again to the Hasbrouck Heights and surrounding communities for all your support again this year! It will make a big difference in a lot of students lives in college.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

mywalkinmanhattan

I have put “MywalkinManhattan” project on hold to get ready for the holidays again! Here comes Christmas!

The holidays are always zipping by and Christmas is no different. We went right from Halloween night and the Halloween Parade to Christmas. The moment it was over, all the Christmas decorations went up. It seems that we no longer bother with worrying about Thanksgiving. I swear that Christmas starts with the July Christmas sale at all Hallmark stores and does not stop until Three Kings Day in January.

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales VIII

Myself and John at the old Christmas tree lot in 2002 when I returned home

The Saturday before Thanksgiving is when we set the lot up for business. We rake the entire property, put together our Christmas shed and then the stands to hold the trees. We have had a lot more help with new members over the past three years.

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales V

Our trees just…

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Day One Hundred and Eighty: The Seventh Anniversary of Professor Angus Gillespie’s talk on the ‘Jersey Devil’ for the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library Halloween Events in 2013 November 13th, 2020

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”.

L

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

Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

Day One Hundred and Sixty-Nine: Exploring Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey-A Local Journey July 15th, 2020

Since my thirty two mile walk around the Island of Manhattan, I have stayed clear of New York City for the time being while things calm down a bit. Since my walk and even on Father’s Day weekend there have been a rash of shootings and thirteen people murdered in various neighborhoods. The papers said they have not seen anything like this since the late 90’s before Rudy Giuliani became Mayor and started to clean things up in New York City. What really spooked me is that I walked through parts of Harlem that were affected the day of the shootings especially between East 145th to East 118th Streets before I got on the riverfront walkway. I still can’t believe that people would act this way at a time like this.

Still between work and the fire department keeping me busy, it has been hard to get back into the City. Phase Three is slowly being introduced in but indoor seating has been put on hold. Outdoor dining has been cautious and the museum and parks have been slow to open. I just got a email from the Metropolitan Museum of Art that they will be opening on August 25th and 26th for a ‘Members Private Night’. It will be interesting to see if that happens.

Upstate New York in Duchess County is slowly opening up with precautions and we are now entering the ‘new normal’ that I would not have even thought about when I was running around the City and Upstate during the holiday season. I glad I made the visits I made when I did. You can’t do that now.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, we have been pretty much limited on what we can do and needing exercise and to get out of the house, I have been walking to our downtown and around the blocks exploring my own town. The Hasbrouck Height Chamber of Commerce recently sponsored “A Stroll Downtown” for our residents for people to explore their downtown and visit the restaurants and stores that are open for limited business and outdoor dining. With the weather getting warmer, people are tired of getting cooped up in their homes and want to get outside and enjoy the weather (yes, we are all wearing masks when necessary).

So every evening, I walk the Boulevard, our business district in Hasbrouck Heights and over time I have really noticed a lot more of our downtown. There is an array of architecture that dates back to the late 1800’s and historical markers that I had never really noticed before.

There is also an array of nice stores (See https://littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/) and reasonable restaurants (See https://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/) in our downtown to visit. The nice part of being family-owned businesses is that you can call in and make an appointment to see merchandise and pickup gifts. We have a lot of nice business owners who will work with their clients.

The song ‘Hasbrouck Heights’ by Burt Bacharach

I start my walk every evening with a turn around the corner from my home and I walk down Williams Avenue to the Boulevard which starts our small part of downtown on our side of town. What is interesting about Williams Avenue is that is was used as an escape route for George Washington’s troops during the Revolutionary War from the Battles in Hackensack and Paramus with the British.

Battle of Hackensack

The Battles in Hackensack and Paramus during the Revolutionary War

Our area of New Jersey has a very prominent place in Revolutionary War history with local battles with the British.

Washington Retreat Sign

Washington’s forces retreated down Williams Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights after the Battle in Hackensack NJ

Before rounding Williams Avenue onto the busy Boulevard, which is a County of Bergen road, you will pass Corleone’s Pizza at 205 Williams Avenue, one of the newest pizzeria/restaurant’s in Hasbrouck Heights. Their pizza and sandwiches are really good anchored by their rich Marinara Sauce and well priced lunch specials. Outdoor dining here is rather unusual on such a busy road but makes it almost seem like you are in the City.

Corleone's Pizza II

Corleone’s Pizza at 205 Williams Avenue

https://www.facebook.com/CorleonesPizzeriaNJ/

https://www.corleonespizzeriamenu.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d13447995-Reviews-Corleone_s_Pizzeria-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Walking to the downtown area is only a few blocks away passing many homes that have stood in town since the late 1800’s to the 1930’s. Hasbrouck Heights has a diversity of types of homes so it makes walking around interesting especially if you are into historic homes and architecture.

Back in the early 2000’s, our former Mayor Rose Heck, started a beautification of the downtown area by cutting down the old trees  and opening the buildings to more sun and creating a whole new landscape by bricking the new sidewalks and adding flowering cherry trees that bloom an abundance of colors in the Spring.

On the new wrought iron lampposts we have pictures of the graduates of Hasbrouck Heights High School, who missed the last four months of school (but recently had their graduation socially distanced on the football field) and American flags that are placed for Memorial Day, Flag Day and the Forth of July. During Christmas time, wreaths and white lights adorn them.

Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ is a very homey, tight knit town.

I always start on the right side of the Boulevard as you approach downtown. The downtown starts with the historic Corpus Christi Church at 215 Kipp Avenue. The complex with the historic parish house, which had once been a well-known doctor’s home in the late 1890’s sits between Washington Place, home to many historic Victorian homes and Kipp Avenue, the start of the business district.

Corpus Chrisit Church

Corpus Christi Catholic Church at 215 Kipp Avenue

http://www.corpuschristihh.org/

The original part of the Church that was built in 1896 was moved from across the street to its current location when the parish bought the Dunstan estate in 1914. The church has been added onto twice in 1934 and 1957.

Corpus Christi Church II

The parish house is the historic Dunstan mansion on the original estate grounds.

The business district runs from Kipp Avenue in town to the circle at Passaic Avenue. Since there are numerous businesses, I wanted to point out the ones that I have enjoyed and been a patron of for years.

Our newest Chinese restaurant, China House at 250 Boulevard, opened (ironically on March 13th when everything was shutting down) just off Kipp Avenue. This small take out restaurant has a few small tables to dine in, which I did the first week it was open (now due to COVID-19 it is just take out). Their General Tso’s and Orange Chicken are really good. The family that runs the restaurant is really nice and has been offering opening discounts.

China House

China House at 250 Boulevard

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d20322076-Reviews-China_House-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

The nice thing about our downtown is the diversity of stores and restaurants. One of the most unique shops is the Religious Shoppe at 220 Boulevard. One of the few stores in the State of New Jersey that specializes in Catholic gifts, it has an array of merchandise from crosses to crucifixes and at the holidays there is a selection of jewelry, books, figurines, statuary and selected gifts both religious and secular.

The Religious Shoppe

The Religious Shoppe at 220 Boulevard

https://thereligiousshopusa.com/

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/119

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/bp–the-religious-shoppe-unique-merchandise-in-a-welc9ecbf32558

Next to the Religious Shoppe at 220 Boulevard (the other side of the building) is Sophia’s Kitchen, a very popular Greek restaurant that opened several years ago and continues to grow in popularity. Their food and service are excellent and after many great reviews in both the local papers and on the internet has been a destination restaurant ever since. You need to wait for tables between Thursday and Saturday nights.

Sophia's Mediterranean Grill

The Religious Shoppe and Sofia’s Mediterranean Grill during the Summer months

Their gyro sandwiches are delicious with a side of their garlic fries and they have this shrimp appetizer, the Shrimp Sanganaki, that is cooked in a tomato sauce and topped with cheese that is out of this world. Their Baklava is sweet and buttery and soaked in honey in all layers. They also have a dessert called Galactoboureko, a sweet custard wrapped in phyllo dough, that is amazing.

Sofia's Kitchen II

Sofia’s Mediterranean Grill at 220 Boulevard

https://sofiasmediterraneangrill.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d3468322-Reviews-Sofia_s_Mediterranean_Grill-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/bp–sofias-mediterranean-grill-the-cuisine-of-greece-fdb3d070f6

Crossing over Franklin Avenue to the next block, you will find a series of interesting shops with Young Fashions at 208 Boulevard,  for beautiful children’s wear and Not Too Shabby at 206 Boulevard (both closed for business in June 2021) for custom made and vintage painted furniture.

Young Fashions Inc III

Young Fashions at 206 Boulevard (Closed June 2021)

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/53

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/friends-merchant-series-young-fashions

Young Fashions Inc. II

Owner Addie Carrino greets all her customers personally (now retired)

Young Fashions (now closed June 2021) is a Lilliputian dream for the well-dressed child and a favorite for grandparents and aunts and uncles all over Bergen County. This delightful store still carries quality clothing for children from infant to age 12. Owner Addie Carrino still believes that there are children that still dress nicely and provides clothing from head to toe for them. She offers complimentary pressing of items when bought and free gift wrapping.

Not Too Shabby (now closed May 2020-online business orders) is run by Addie’s daughter, Liz Carrino, who brings to life her custom painted furniture and one of a kind pieces. She loves vintage furniture from the Depression era and all sorts of decorative pieces for the home and office. Take time to walk around the aisles of furniture and knick knacks.

Not too Shabby

Not Too Shabby at 206 Boulevard (now closed 2020-Online Business)

https://nottooshabbynj.com/

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/meet-liz-carrino-owner-of-not-too-shabby

Please watch the video on the creativity of the business (now closed but online):

Next to Not Too Shabby at 202 Boulevard, the new and much enlarged Dumpling Chinese Restaurant  moved to from their old location at 220 Boulevard (now the home to China House). The restaurant is much bigger and brighter than their old restaurant and has lots of places to sit down (during the COVID-19 pandemic it is strictly pick-up and delivery). They made a wonderful Lemon Chicken and Moo Shu Pork and their dumplings are not bad too.

Dumpling Chinese Food

Dumpling Chinese Food at 202 Boulevard

http://www.dumplingchinesehasbrouckheights.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

Dumplings

Dumplings dumplings are really good!

Walking further down the Boulevard I always pass the Masonic Temple at 200 Boulevard, one of the oldest buildings in Hasbrouck Heights. The Euclid Masonic Lodge has been in existence for 145 years and its stately building has been part of the downtown since anyone can remember.

Masonic Lodge

The Euclid Masonic Lodge at 200 Boulevard

About Us

As you walk to the next two blocks you will reach the Circle which is the home to many a Christmas Celebration with the annual Tree Lighting after Thanksgiving. One little unique local landmark we have is the old ‘Neil Parrot Playhouse’ that sits on the Circle and is decorated for the holidays. In 2016 a group of concerned citizens got together to have the little dollhouse, which matched the home of the old Neil Parrot business office and home of Neil Parrot, a local realtor. He used the little house to amuse children while their parents did business with him.

Neil Parrot Playhouse

The Neil Parrot Playhouse on the Hasbrouck Heights Circle

The Circle at the corner of Boulevard and Passaic Avenue is the official end of the Business District and is where all holiday events take place with the Tree Lighting at the end of November and the Holiday Choir performing.

Hasbrouck Heights Christmas

The pine trees at the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights add to a festive mood at the holidays

On the other side of the Circle from the old Neil Parrot Dollhouse is the Firemen’s Memorial where every Memorial Day and 9/11 Day, we on the fire department have our special ceremonies and events. It really is a place of reflection and a nice place to sit and think. I like to take time and look at the names of fire fighters from the past.

Firemen's Memorial Hasbrouck Heights

The Firemen’s Memorial in Hasbrouck Heights

http://www.hasbrouck-heights.com/hhfd/

I like to take a break here but move on I do very quickly and I start the walk on the other side of the Boulevard.

Another nice restaurant that I enjoy going to is Heights Bar & Grill at 163 Boulevard. The restaurant is now serving outdoor diners and has delivery and take out. Still the outdoor dining is really popular. When it is open, it is the local watering hole for customers all over Bergen County who enjoy a good mixed drink, their wonderful pub food and watching the games. Their pizza and burgers are really good and they have a nice assortment of appetizers.

Heights Bar & Grill

Heights Bar & Grill at 163 Boulevard

http://www.heightsbarandgrill.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d4734828-Reviews-The_Heights_Bar_and_Grill-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/friends-merchant-series-heights-bar-and-grill

Walking past the Heights Bar & Grill there is a bevy of small businesses and commercial banks housed in older and modern buildings. The architecture in our downtown is a combination of old and new and old becoming new again.

A new addition to our restaurant scene and adding a little ‘hipster’ to Hasbrouck Heights is the new KTB Coffee Shop & Lounge at 183 Boulevard that just opened last year. It had been an old convenience store for years and the new owners stripped it down to the bearings where is looks like a combination of Williamsburg meets Beacon, NY. The food is reasonable and they have nice sandwiches and wraps. The nice part is when the place was open pre-COVID-19, they had entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. It was nice to hear saxophonists and guitar players rather than the usual garage bands. It gives the downtown a little diversity from all the pizzerias and Chinese take out places.

KTB Coffee Shop & Lounge

KTB Coffee Shop & Lounge at 183 Boulevard now has outdoor dining

https://www.ktbcoffeeshop.com/our-shop

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d17595045-Reviews-KTB_Coffee_Shop_Lounge-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

The next few blocks is studded with service businesses, hair salons and banks and then you have a series of restaurants some opening in recent years. On the corner of Hamilton Avenue and the Boulevard replacing the long service Carroll’s Fashion which had been that location for about thirty years.  Bella Pizza opened at 193 Boulevard. The pizzeria has quickly established itself in town among the other six pizzerias we have and makes the most amazing calzones and Sicilian pies.

Bella Pizza

Bella Pizza at 193 Boulevard

https://www.bellapizzahh.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d13840427-Reviews-Bella_Pizza-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

The Risotto House of Hasbrouck Heights, a branch of the popular Rutherford, NJ restaurant is at 203 Boulevard is one of the growing fine dining restaurants added to our downtown. It is always been busy at the holidays and in the COVID-19 era has a small outdoor dining area to sit and relax while you enjoy dishes like Shrimp Risotto and Veal Milanese.

Risotto House

The Risotto House of Hasbrouck Heights at 203 Boulevard

https://www.ourrisottohouse.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d3599716-Reviews-The_Risotto_House_Of_Hasbrouck_Heights-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Next to The Risotto House of Hasbrouck Heights is J. Maru Sushi at 205 Boulevard and is known for their Bento Box lunches and their Shrimp Tempura and Chicken Teriyaki are always delicious.

J. Maru Sushi

J. Maru Sushi at 205 Boulevard

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Sushi-Restaurant/J-Maru-Sushi-435694726465834/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d4967381-Reviews-J_Maru_Sushi-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/bp–j-maru-sushi-a-visit-to-japan-without-leaving-town

One of the nicest stores in Hasbrouck Heights especially at each of the holidays is Heights Flower Shoppe at 209 Boulevard. Their window displays are some of the best in the downtown area and are especially nice at Christmas and Easter. I love their selection of gifts at the holidays and their owner always makes special arrangements for me when visiting the cemetery. The business is housed in an old home that has been in the downtown since the 1880’s and was renovated to its beauty by the owner.

Heights Flower Shoppe

Heights Flower Shoppe at 209 Boulevard

https://www.heightsflowershoppe.com/

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/130

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/friends-guest-column-heights-florist-shoppes-vorisek-5b8b062f7d

Heights Flower Shoppe

Heights Flower Shoppe is always special at the Christmas holidays

The historic Lovey’s Pizzeria at 211 Boulevard and has been in town since the early 1960’s. There is a small dining room in the restaurant and I have been partial over the years to their fried calzones and their ravioli with red sauce. The current owner bought the pizzeria from her parents who had owned it all those years.

Lovey's Pizza

Lovey’s Pizzeria & Ristorante at 211 Boulevard with Summer dining

https://www.loveysristorantepizzeria.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d4711933-Reviews-Lovey_s_Pizzeria_Ristorante-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/lovey-s-owner-corrine-seidel-knows-everything-about-p3ceadb12a9

One of my favorite Chinese take out places in Hasbrouck Heights is Ho Mei Kitchen at 227 Boulevard. I enjoy many of the dishes here especially their Lemon Chicken, their House Fried Rice and they have the best egg rolls in town. Their lunch specials are really reasonable and you can order them until 4:00pm. They are like a dinner. The family who owns the place are really nice and have set up an interesting system of ordering in the COVID-19 era.

Ho Mei Kitchen

Ho Mei Kitchen at 227 Boulevard

http://www.homeikitchen.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d8605835-Reviews-Ho_Mei_Kitchen-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/673

Lemon Chicken

Their Lemon Chicken is the best!

Crossing the street at Jefferson Avenue are three of the oldest businesses in town along with Lovey’s Pizzeria, Height Floral Shoppe and Young Fashions is Bill O’Shea’s Florist & Gifts at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and the Boulevard at 231 Boulevard has been opened since the 1960’s as well.

Like Heights Flower Shoppe, Bill O’Shea’s Florist & Gifts is always so nicely merchandised with the wonderful flower arrangements for a quick pickup, nice assortments of candy and stuffed animals and creative gift items for the home at the holidays. Their owners are really nice and accommodating. They also have a nice Open House at the opening of the holiday season.

Bill O'Sheas Florist

Bill O’Sheas Florist & Gifts at 227 Boulevard

https://osheasflowers.com/

My article on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/151

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/friends-merchant-series-bill-osheas-florist

Bill OShea's

The owners of Bill O’Shea’s Florist & Gifts, John and Linda Kosakowski, at their Food Drive.

Bill O'Shea's at Easter

Bill O’Shea’s Easter Open House 2021

The newest addition to Downtown Hasbrouck Heights is Ralph’s Ice Cream & Ices at 239 Boulevard that opened in the height of the COVID pandemic just in time to cheer a town up that really needed it. The store opened in the summer of 2020 to long lines and gave everyone an excuse to done a mask and meet their neighbors for a sweet treat.

Ralph's Ice Cream

Ralph’s Ice Cream at 239 Boulevard

Home

Fisher’s Café at 245 Boulevard is another restaurant that has been in town since the 1960’s and is a popular place for breakfast and lunch with a lot of the locals who make this their place to eat. Fisher’s is very popular for their breakfast dishes and platters and is a hang out after school for the junior high and high students for their burgers and grilled cheese.

Fisher's Cafe

Fisher’s Café at 245 Boulevard

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/American-Restaurant/Fishers-Cafe-Hasbrouck-Heights-190840294276558/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d4953321-Reviews-Fisher_s_Cafe-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/friends-merchant-series-fisher-s-cafe

Another long time merchant in Hasbrouck Heights is Spindler’s Bake Shop at 247 Boulevard,  which had reopened after a few years of being closed by the family. The bakery has been a Hasbrouck Heights institution since the 1950’s by the current owners grandparents.

Spindler's Bakery V

Ginny & Bob Spindler at their store as the next generation of bakers.

They are well-known for their butter cookies arrangements, their fresh rolls and their apple and lemon turnovers are melt in your mouth good! The staff is always friendly and the smells of the baked goods as you enter the store are sensational.

Spindler's Bakery III

Spindler’s Bake Shop at 247 Boulevard

https://twitter.com/spindlersbakery?lang=en

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d12898321-Reviews-Spindler_s_Bake_Shop-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1645

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/spindlers-bakery-a-hasbrouck-heights-tradition-returns-to-town

Spindler's Bakery VI

The baked goods are so good! Don’t miss their Lemon Turnovers!

Lemon Turnovers at Spindler's Bake Shop

Their Lemon Turnovers are excellent!

As you pass by Spindler’s Bake Shop, you will walk the next block over and pass Kipp Avenue again to the end of the official part of the Business District and start walking back to Williams Avenue past residential and commercial properties and Corpus Christi Church again until you reach our Municipal Building.

In a small strip of stores across from our new Town Hall that was built in 2004 are two very popular restaurants, Tom Young Koong, at 305 Boulevard and Heights Pizzeria at 313 Boulevard which have both adapted to the COVID-19 era of outdoor dining and take-out/delivery.

Tom Young Koong is a very well-known destination Thai restaurant that is very busy between Thursday and Saturday nights. Their assortment of appetizers that include Chicken Satay, Curry Puffs, Fried Dumplings and Shrimp Fried Noodle are excellent and they have the most delicious Pad Thai which is wonderful with Chicken and Shrimp. The food is cooked by the owner with recipes that came from his mother. The service is always friendly and the owners are really nice.

Tom Young Koong

Tom Young Koong at 305 Boulevard

https://www.menuism.com/restaurants/tom-yum-koong-thai-restaurant-medford-19871

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d4632674-Reviews-Tom_Yum_Koong_Thai_Kitchen-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Hasbrouck Heights Pizza (Heights Pizza to locals) at 313 Boulevard has been popular since it opened its doors almost a decade ago. Their pizza is so popular that people order it from several towns away and even during the worst storms even Hurricane Sandy, it never closed and was as busy as ever. Everything here is delicious and it is known not just for its regular Cheese Pizza but their Grandma Pizza, their Pepperoni Calzones, Specialty pies and their entrees are excellent and restaurant quality. The place is always busy so the staff and drivers run in and out of the place. The outdoor dining is even popular from early Spring until it gets cold in October.

Heights Pizza

Heights Pizzeria at 313 Boulevard

https://www.hasbrouckheightspizza.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d4789435-Reviews-Hasbrouck_Heights_Pizza-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/bp–friends-merchant-series-heights-pizzeria-serves-g2bd44b4fc5

Heights Pizza II

The owner of Heights Pizza, Celestino Gencarelli, welcomes guests to his restaurant.

Across the street from these restaurants sits the Hasbrouck Heights Municipal Building that stands guard over the downtown and welcomes visitors and residents alike.

Hasbrouck Heights Municipal Building

The Hasbrouck Heights Municipal Building at 320 Boulevard

https://hasbrouck-heightsnj.org/

The last thing I always see on my way home is the Hasbrouck Heights Junior/Senior High School which has stood here since the 1940’s educating generations of Hasbrouck Heights residents.

Hasbrouck Heights High School

Hasbrouck Heights High School at 365 Boulevard

https://www.hhschools.org/

When arriving back at Williams Avenue, I cross the Boulevard again with Corleone’s Pizzeria in the distance and their well lit tables. Two other businesses have been in town a long time in this series of stores.

Danson Jewelers at 201 Williams Avenue has been in Hasbrouck Heights since the 1980’s and does a nice job on repairs of watches and jewelry and has a nice selection of watches. The service is very friendly and the family that owns it gets to know their regulars.

Danson Jewelers

Danson Jewelers at 201 Williams Avenue

Jewelry

Further down the street a new bakery opened. Two Ladies Bakery at 446 Boulevard. They specialize in Lebanese, Russian and French pastries. The bakery just opened two weeks ago so it is nice to go in and support a new business in town.

Two Ladies Bakery

Two Ladies Bakery at 448 Boulevard

https://twoladiesbakerynorth.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TwoLadiesBakeryNorth/

My review on TripAdvisor:

The Cream Puff I had was a little pricey for our town at $5.00. It was well baked and had a rich creamy vanilla filling. It was good but average.

Cream Puffs

The cream puffs are good but expensive

Another long service merchant who has been assisting residents for years is Heights Specialty Pharmacy (the former BeJay Drug Store) at 450 Boulevard. The staff has been here for years and is helpful to many of our senior residents. The owners wife runs a small gift shop both in the store and a few doors down has a separate shop.

Heights Pharmacy

Heights Specialty Pharmacy at 450 Boulevard

http://heightsspecialty.com/

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/friends-merchants-series-bejay-drugs-tradition-and-ole6071c843e

The last merchant I pass on my way home is Jerry’s Barber Shop at 406 Boulevard, which has been here since the 1920’s when Jerry’s father ran the business. Jerry has been cutting my hair since 1988 and is one of the only people I trust to do it correctly. I even waited for trips home from Hawaii, Guam and California when I lived in those places to get my hair cut. A haircut here is still $14.00 and he does an excellent job. I highly recommend him.

Jerry's Barber Shop

Jerry’s Barber Shop at 460 Boulevard

https://www.bestprosintown.com/nj/hasbrouck-heights/jerrys-barber-shop-/

Then I round the corner and am on my way home again. For such a small town, Hasbrouck Heights has the most interesting and historic downtown that few residents appreciate when you look at the history and longevity of our merchants. A few long time merchants have closed their doors as they have either retired or COVID-19 has affected the business.

During the holiday season, the town really rolls out the welcome mat. People in town love to decorate and entertain. In this COVID era,  some things have been toned down such as large parties and parades. All the Christmas concerts have been cancelled as school has been put into both virtual and life classes.

Still the spirit of the town can be felt from Halloween to the New Years as people decorate their homes and businesses welcome people to open houses and will cater to small parties of people.

Halloween in Hasbrouck Heights NJ

Halloween in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

Every year I look forward to the Downtown Merchants Open Houses with their bright creative display windows and small indoor entertainments as people come to shop and converse with their neighbors.

Right before the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Bill O’Shea Flowers had their annual Open House with Christmas music and lots of pre-wrapped goodies to enjoy and take home. The store was beautifully decorated with all sorts of treasures that customers could buy, I love just walking around and grabbing a snack while shopping every year.

Bill O'Shea's Florist V

Bill O’Shea’s Florist & Gifts is a delight at the Christmas holidays

Bill O'Shea's Florist & Gifts

Bill O’Shea’s Florist & Gifts welcomes you at Christmas

The weekend after Thanksgiving, Heights Flower Shoppe had their Annual Open House and it was just as spectacular. One tries to outdo the other in a friendly rivalry.

Heights Flowers V

Heights Flower Shoppe has the most interesting merchandise

Heights Flowers IV

Heights Flower Shoppe pulls out all stops to welcome you at the holidays

My twenty one years on the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association has done a lot to my back after years at Macy’s selling rugs as well. The Annual Christmas Tree Sale was a HUGE success this year. We sold out in less than two weeks, ending the sale on Friday night, December 11th selling a record 375 trees. We want to thank the residents of Hasbrouck Heights and the surrounding towns for their support on our Scholarship Fund event.

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales VI

The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association at the set-up being COVID safe

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/15853

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales V

The trees were gorgeous this year

As we ready for Christmas 2020 next week and the coming of a new and hopefully better New Year, the town has done its job to cheer us up. The Annual Christmas Tree lighting was not advertised but happened anyway and welcomes people at our western border of town.

Hasbrouck Heights Christmas VI

Our town Christmas tree at the Circle

Neil Parrot Playhouse

The Neil Parrot playhouse is even decorated at the Circle

Bill O'Shea's Florist VII

Downtown Hasbrouck Heights welcomes you at Christmas

Even though the Annual Holiday Parade was cancelled, we will still be welcoming Santa at Santa Around Town the last Sunday of December before Christmas. This Annual tradition on the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department has the whole town in the Christmas spirit as Santa visits them in their own neighborhoods.

Santa Around Town HHFD

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at “Santa Around Town” 2019

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/14847

Christmas Parade in HH

We visit every neighborhood in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

Nothing can stop the holiday spirit in our town even in the era of COVID. This is a time when neighbors and friends need to stick together for holiday cheer!

HHFD Santa Around Town 2020

HHFD at Santa Around Town 2020

My blog on “Santa Around Town 2020”:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/16150

The Brothers of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at “Santa Around Town” 2020!

As the State of the New Jersey slowly opens again, I can still walk my entire downtown in the evenings and appreciate the fact that sometimes small town living is not so bad and it is still only twenty minutes and twelve miles to Midtown Manhattan.

This is what walking is all about. Discovering things close to home.

Watch this video on our town and try to locate some of the older homes still standing.

And be a tourist in your own town!

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Christmas Tree Stand

Day One Hundred and Twenty-Six: Here come the Christmas Trees for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ (HHMA) November 24th, 2018 (again in November 27th, 2019 & November 27th,2020)

I have put “MywalkinManhattan” project on hold to get ready for the holidays again! Here comes Christmas!

The holidays are always zipping by and Christmas is no different. We went right from Halloween night and the Halloween Parade to Christmas. The moment it was over, all the Christmas decorations went up. It seems that we no longer bother with worrying about Thanksgiving. I swear that Christmas starts with the July Christmas sale at all Hallmark stores and does not stop until Three Kings Day in January.

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales VIII

Myself and John at the old Christmas tree lot in 2002 when I returned home

The Saturday before Thanksgiving is when we set the lot up for business. We rake the entire property, put together our Christmas shed and then the stands to hold the trees. We have had a lot more help with new members over the past three years.

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales V

Our trees just keep getting better

The Saturday after Thanksgiving for me means Christmas Tree delivery for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association, which I have been a member of for twenty-one years. I can’t believe that time has gone that fast. It seems like ten life times ago that I returned home from Guam.

The organization has been building on the success of the sale over the past five years and this year we extended the amount of trees we bought to 340 over the 315 last year. I thought we ordered an even 350 but we must have readjusted it. Still that is the most amount of trees we have sold since I have been in the organization.

Last year we were sold out by the second week of December and had our annual party at the lot with three trees left. I had never seen so many trees sell out so fast. Our word of mouth has been very good. I have also tried to get the Upper West Side customer from Manhattan to cross the bridge to buy their trees here.

I swear that I was pricing trees while I was finishing my walk of the Upper West Side in 2018 for my ‘MywalkinManhattan’ project and trees that we were selling for $45-$55 vendors were selling for $100. It was just nuts.

We also bulked up on the fraizers this year. They are the pine trees that look the most typical ‘Christmasy’. They as of this weekend have almost all sold out. People tend to decorate early because of work schedules and I swear, we had not even emptied the truck on Saturday and we sold two trees. We sold eight by the end of my shift at 6:00pm that night.

For all of you readers and bloggers who need a Christmas tree, we are located on the corner of Franklin Avenue and Terrace Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ and our prices go from $45.00 for a small Frazier to $100.00 for a ten foot tall Balsam. We are open as long as the supply lasts.

Hurry up as I was on the lot last night and there were forty-one trees left! By the night of our annual tree stand party we sold out! 340 trees in less than three weeks! A new Men’s Association record!

Men's Association Dinner 2016

The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association in 2017

HHMA Dinner 2018

Myself and Kyle Kasper and his wife at the 2018 HHMA Dinner

2018 was another great year for Christmas tree sales. We are hoping for another repeat in 2019. We sold all 375 Christmas trees in three weeks!

 

HHMA 2019

The members of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association at our 2019 Annual Dinner

In November & December of 2020:

With the success of the sale in 2018, we bumped the amount of Christmas Trees to 375 in 2019 and we sold out again by December 16th so our goal for 2020 was going to be 400 trees. We as a organization knew that we could do this but when COVID hit we were unsure of what would happen. So our President decided that we would keep it at 375 trees again for 2020.

We really lucked out as the week of set-up before Thanksgiving and the drop off the weekend after as the weather was sunny and in the 60’s. This is unusual for this time of the year. I worked all three days after the drop off working from 9:00am to 10:00pm on Friday, from 2:00pm to 7:30pm on Saturday and then from 10:00am to 6:30pm on Sunday.

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales III

Christmas Tree set up is a lot of work

All three days were spectacular with sunny weather in the low 60’s. I was amazed at the early crowds that we had and we sold 35 trees and two stands on Friday. This was the most we had ever sold on a first day of selling. The first full weekend of selling we sold 152 trees and 6 stands. That was our best so far.

I want to thank the residents of Hasbrouck Heights and our surrounding communities for support of our sale every year. Now it is time to sell the rest of those trees!

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales VI

The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association in 2020 in the era of COVID

An update from 2020, we sold all the trees out, all 375 of them, by Friday night, December 11th. A new record for us!! 

Thank you to the Hasbrouck Heights and surrounding communities for your support! You will be helping a lot of students with their time in college. We always appreciate your support.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone who bought a tree and to all your families, please stay safe during the holidays!!

 

 

Watch my successful commercial for YouTube below and watch the trailers for my two favorite contemporary Christmas movies. They really show a different side of the holidays.

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales

Me selling Christmas trees on the lot with member John Horem.

Merry Christmas!

 

My Christmas tree sales video on YouTube.

Update:

In 2018, all in all 339 trees were sold and one was stolen from the lot. We raised over $8000 for student scholarships and want to thank all of customers for their support!

In 2019, we sold all 374 trees that we had on the lot and raised over $10,000 for the student scholarship fund. Thank you again everyone!

In 2020, we sold 152 trees the first weekend. Let’s keep that momentum going everyone!!

 

My two new favorite contemporary Christmas movies, “Christmas Again” and “White Reindeer” sad but optimistic views on the holiday. Try to get your hands on these two great indie films.

‘Christmas Again’

 

‘White Reindeer’

Merry Christmas Everyone and Stay Safe!

Author Justin Watral

Day Ninety One: New Blog Sites: VisitingaMuseum.com and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@WordPress.com by Blogger Justin Watrel.

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 II.jpg

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:

https://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/

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.

Dumplings II.jpg

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:

https://mywalkinmanhattan.com/

Beekman Place.jpg

Beekman Place

So I hope you enjoy ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ and ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com when coming to Manhattan. Please check all of this places out online for a change of hours and exhibits and menus.

Check out the newest site, “LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com” for small boutiques and specialty shops that are unique and quirky.

Cute Downtown.jpg

Little Shop on Main Street:

https://littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/

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.

New Jersey Firemen's Home Museum

The New Jersey Firemen’s Home in Boonton, NJ

https://tbcfha.wordpress.com/

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.

Brother's of Engine One with their bell

The Brothers of Engine One HHFD (site now closed-Blogs moved to section of MywalkinManhattan.com called “My life as a Fireman”):

https://engineonehasbrouckheightsfiredepartmentnj.wordpress.com/tag/engine-one-hhfd/

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.

BCFHA Barbecue 2019 V

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.

Happy Reading!

My Blogs:

MywalkinManhattan.com

https://mywalkinmanhattan.com/

BergenCountyCaregiver.com

https://wwwbergencountycaregiver.com/

VisitingaMuseum.com

https://visitingamuseum.com/

DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com

https://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/

TheBrothersofEngineOneHasbrouckHeightsFireDepartment@Wordpress.com

https://engineonehasbrouckheightsfiredepartmentnj.wordpress.com/

TBCFMA@Wordpress.com

https://tbcfha.wordpress.com/

Also visit my past blog on Patch.com: The Merchant Series

https://patch.com/users/justin-watrel

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/friends-merchant-series-young-fashions

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/friends-merchant-series-young-fashions

I did this for the Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library from 2009-2014.

The Second Annual Teens Tots & Toys at the Lodi Memorial

Day Sixty-One: The Second Annual “Teens, Tots & Toys” holiday event with Best-Selling Author and Caldecott Medal Winner Christopher Raschka with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library December 10, 2016

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.

Raschka Visit II

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.

Kevin Boothe at the HHL II

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).

Raschka XII

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.

Raschka Visit XV

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.

Raschka Visit

Chris with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year from the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library!

Articles on the Event:

http://lodi.bccls.org/friends-of-the-library.html

https://dailyvoice.com/new-jersey/garfield/1342/

https://www.northjersey.com/story/opinion/2017/01/10/letter-lodi-library-has-successful-year/96403338/

 

 

Tinkerstreet, the magical Christmas elf

Day Sixty-One: The Second Annual “Teens, Tots & Toys” with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library: ‘The Legend of Tinker Street, the Magical Elf’ created by member, Justin Watrel December 10, 2016

Tinker Street, the Magical Elf

Tinker Street

 

                                                    The Legend of Tinker Street

(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 II

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.

Tinker Street III

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!

Teens, Tots & Toys Picture X

The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library with World Champion Skater, Elaine Zayak, at the first “Teens. Tots & Toys” in 2015.

Raschka Visit V

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’

The Tales of Flying Monkeys

Day Fifty-Nine: The Bergen County Zoo “Follows the Yellow Brick Road Back to the Lodi Memorial Library” for ‘Wizard of Oz’ themed event with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library November 10, 2016.

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.

Flying Monkeys

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

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).

FOLML Spring Event II

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.

Flying Monkeys

“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:

https://www.northjersey.com/story/opinion/2017/01/10/letter-lodi-library-has-successful-year/96403338/

http://lodi.bccls.org/friends-of-the-library.html

Day Fifty-Six: ‘Celebrating Books’-The 116th Anniversary of the novel, “The Wizard of Oz” with special guest, Miss New Jersey 2016 Brenna Weick with Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library September 29, 2016.

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 New Jersey Flyer

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.

Miss New Jersey 2016 X

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.

Miss New Jersey 2016 IV.JPG

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.

Miss New Jersey 2016 III

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”.

Miss New Jersey 2016 VII

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:

 

https://www.northjersey.com/story/life/community/2016/10/06/here-she-is-miss-new-jersey-visited-the-lodi-library-on-sept-29/93041492

https://www.northjersey.com/story/life/community/2016/10/06/miss-new-jersey-2016-brenna-weick-was-on-hand-at-the-lodi-memorial-library-on-sept-29/93043200/

https://www.northjersey.com/story/life/community/2016/09/22/miss-new-jersey-to-visit-the-lodi-public-library/93014556/

https://dailyvoice.com/new-jersey/garfield/lifestyle/miss-new-jersey-2016-brenna-weick-will-sing-read-at-lodi-library/681477/

http://lodi.bccls.org/friends-of-the-library.html

http://www.healthandlifemags.com/bergen/February-2017/Gatherings-Lodi-Memorial-Library/

https://ozmapolitan.wordpress.com/2016/09/04/oz-in-the-news-9-4-16/

https://tomp3.pro/Lodi-nj-library

http://bundari.klikini.xyz/wovinur/noaworix.php?fygkuhdg=brenna-weick

https://goodjerseys.co/miss-new-jersey/

https://www.northjersey.com/story/opinion/2017/01/10/letter-lodi-library-has-successful-year/96403338/