I have been to Lucky Larry’s Luncheonette, which is one town over from me, for both breakfast and lunch and I have to say that the food, service and atmosphere are very homey and down to earth. It is a real neighborhood spot, one of those places that the locals hang out to meet one another and catch up on town gossip.
The Lucky Larry’s logo
Blog under the old Lucky Larry’s:
It is more of a deli than a restaurant so there is limited seating but that does not stop the crowd of diners from eating and relaxing there. They will even bring your order to the…
I had been sent the notice that the County of Morris, New Jersey was having a two-day Open House of many of their historical sites for touring and for special events for a program entitled “The Pathways of History: Museum and Site Tours of Morris County, NJ”.
The “Pathways to History” event takes place every May
The weekend event spread to small museums, historical homes and cemeteries all over the County with walking tours and lectures at various sites. Having never been or even heard of many of these sites, I was interested in visiting as many as I could for my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com” which is here on WordPress.com as well.
I plotted my two days of the event and tried to organize the trip so that we could see as many sites as we could. The event asked the sites to open one of the two days as most of these sites are small and have a tough time getting volunteers. So, I tried to coordinate the sites I had wanted to visit with visiting other places along the way such as farm stands I wanted to visit and restaurants I wanted to try.
The map of historical sites that I wanted to visit
I recruited my aunt to help me take pictures of the sites and travel with me to get her opinions on each of the sites. She also wanted to get out of the house and travel with me so off we went. We started the day with a good breakfast at the Blue Cafe at 273 Valley Boulevard in Wood Ridge, NJ (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaSheStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). I like the hometown atmosphere and service of the restaurant.
The Blue Cafe at 273 Valley Boulevard in Wood Ridge, NJ
My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:
Not wanting to snack along the way, both my aunt and I had a large breakfast. She had an Egg White Omelet with bacon and tomatoes with a side of hashbrowns and toast ($8.95). I had the Pancake Platter which came with two pancakes and two scrambled eggs with a side of link sausage ($8.95). I have to say that everything came to the table promptly and was delicious. The portion sizes were very fair, and the service could not have been nicer.
We needed a good breakfast at Blue Cafe for the long journey
My pancakes were perfectly cooked and had that nice, malted taste and the scrambled eggs had a nice taste of clarified butter. The sausage had a nice spicy sage taste to it. My aunt could not finish her eggs and asked me to take some. They were delicious as well. The flavors of the bacon and the tomatoes had a nice complexity to them and the hashbrowns were well seasoned and crisp.
My pancakes and eggs that morning was delicious
With a nice breakfast behind us and a warm sunny day, we both looked forward to visiting the sites without stopping much. We travelled down Route 80 and then down Route 206, which once upon a time was one of the only highways to travel through the State of New Jersey. It took us down to Route 24 through the rolling hills of Chester, NJ and to our first stop, the Obadiah La Tourette Grist & Mill at 12 East Mill Road in Long Valley, NJ.
East Mill Road lead into a quaint little town that looked like something out of the early 1800’s with older clapboard homes and historic churches with old cemeteries surround them in a highly wooded spot. It reminded me of my trips through the Hudson River Valley.
The Obadiah La Tourette Grist & Mill at 12 East Mill Road
The Grist Mill was fascinating. The mill has been a working mill from the early 1800’s until about the late 1930’s, during the Depression when they needed to expand operations. The place had pretty much been abandoned until the 1980’s when it had been falling apart by the side of the road and concerned citizens got together to save it. It is now going through a renovation.
What the mill looked like in 1993
When I toured both the upstairs and the downstairs, upstairs was all the equipment to move the wheat and bundle it for processing and for milling. I even saw amongst the equipment the old portion size bagging attachment where the final packaging took place.
On the lower level of the mill, you could see the stream under the building and the turbine wheels of the old mill still placed in the stream and along the side of the mill. You could view from the deck the workings of the equipment and how the stream powered the mill itself. You could also see the flow of the stream and how it is now affecting the structure of the building.
It is amazing how we survived with just Mother Nature at one time
The staff takes immense pride in the building structure and how the renovation is coming along as well as its unique history. The tour guides could not have been more enthusiastic about explaining to myself, my aunt and the other visitors about the history of the mill, the way they milled the flour and the ongoing structure improvements. It was also so picturesque with the small flowing stream and woods that surrounded it.
We walked along the property back to the car and please to all readers, watch yourself on the road because for some reason everyone was speeding that morning and there is no sidewalk. Remember to walk to the back of the buildings to view the stream, the woods and all the historical homes in this little hamlet.
Our next stop was on the other side of the stream and around the corner from the mill. We visited the Union Schoolhouse & Union Church and Burial Ground at 6 Fairview Avenue in Long Valley, NJ. The Union Schoolhouse has been converted into Washington Township Historical Society building housing its collection. The Union Church burned down years earlier and was left is a stone structure that you can view inside and out. The church is surrounded by the old cemetery where prominent members of the community are buried.
The Washington Township Historical Society at 6 Fairview Avenue
The Union Schoolhouse/Washington Township Historical Society is a well-organized two-story building, that houses a collection of antique objects from the community. There was a set up a school room, selection of quilts, old dishware, antique furniture and on the first floor a complete display of the Welsh Farms Ice Cream Company and Dairy.
The second-floor school room reflects the buildings past as a schoolhouse
The original ice cream factory (no longer exists) used to be right down the road from the old schoolhouse and members of the Welsh family are buried in the cemetery. I thought that was fascinating as I never knew it had been started here.
The local Welsh family started the Welsh Farm Dairy and Ice Cream factory down the road
The Welsh Family cemetery plot
I toured through the old church with another patron and the tour guide while my aunt, who did not want to walk on the uneven ground of the cemetery got her own verbal tour with one of the members of the historical society. We got to walk through the cemetery and see the graves of the prominent families that were once members of the church. We also got to see how the staff used tombstone cleaner to make the tombstones brighter.
The Union Church and Cemetery
What was also impressive about the building was the beautiful flower garden that lined the stone wall between the schoolhouse and the cemetery. One of the local Garden Clubs must have planted and taken care of the gardens because they were so well pruned and planted. It was so colorful with an array of flowers line with blooming tulips along the path.
The old Washington Township Schoolhouse is now the museum
On the way back down Route 24, my aunt and I decided to stop for a snack. We stopped at an old favorite mine that I have been visiting since the early 1970’s, the Hacklebarney Farm Cider Mill at 104 State Park Road which is right outside Hacklebarney State Park, which I had also visited many times as a child for walks and barbecues.
The Hacklebarney Cider Mill Farm at 104 State Park Road
I love coming to Hacklebarney Farm Cider Mill at all times of the year. It is especially best in the late Spring and in the Fall months when the leaves are changing, and all the Halloween events are happening. The farm had opened their hot dog stand early on customer demand the owner explained to us as well as made sure the bakery was well-stocked for visitors on the tours.
The hot dog stand and the work buildings remind you that this is a working farm and not a tourist trap
We toured through the bakery, and I ordered a Cider doughnut ($2.95) and a Fruit Dumpling ($3.95) for dessert, and we shared a Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla ($5.95) and two Cokes for our lunch (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). It was so nice to just sit and relax and enjoy the weather.
The wonderful baked goods at the Hacklebarney Farm bakery
The Quesadilla was well made and stuffed with lots of chicken and cheese and the salsa had a nice spicy flavor to it. I love the crispiness of their Cider doughnuts with lots of cinnamon sugar on top of them. The Fruit Dumpling was filled with fresh blueberries and strawberries and had nice buttery sweetness to it. We devoured everything in record time, and I could not believe how hungry we both were that afternoon. Maybe it was all the driving or maybe it was just looking over all the rolling hills and the soft breezes from the field.
We got a chance to talk to the owner again when she came over with an old picture of the farmhouse that her great-grandparents had built and the pride that they took in all their baked goods. She told us that everything is made from scratch in their kitchen and all the fruits are hand peeled for their desserts. In the Fall, I have watched them make their apple cider on property and you can watch the steps to make the cider you will buy inside (when it is in season, make the trip out here for it. It is well worth the trip).
The Hacklebarney Farm family farmhouse
After a relaxing afternoon of relaxing, playing with their dogs and walking around the farm, we left for Downtown Chester, which is located right down Route 24 and on the other side of Route 206. We passed the old shell of a building that was once Larison’s Turkey Farm Inn which closed in 2009.
The old Larison’s Turkey Farm building is a reminder of changing times
I had eaten here a few times with my family over the years and you used to be able to get a full turkey dinner for a reasonable price. Forget trying to visit the place at Thanksgiving. The place is now falling apart, and I read online that they want to knock down this historic landmark for a strip mall.
Our next site on the listing was the Chester Historical Society or otherwise known as the Chester’s Rockefeller Center at 137 Main Street. Main Street Chester was a madhouse on Saturday as there was a food truck festival going on in the park downtown and traffic was all over the place. We must have circled the downtown three times looking for the Historical Society.
The soon to be Chester Historical Society at 137 Main Street
We finally found the empty building that was falling apart right next to the park. All that the historical society was an empty building that had been moved to the park and a kiosk that was closed off by the food truck festival. When we were able to stop and talk to the members who were there, they were closing up shop for the afternoon.
They said they were showing the plans for the renovation of the building and how they wanted to store the collection. That is what amounted to their current historical society. It was a work in progress. The little building was built in 1897 and was ordered from the Sears & Roebuck Company.
The Chester Historical Society is just beginning to be established
We quickly got out of downtown Chester and headed back up Route 206 North and took some back roads to our final destination that afternoon, the Silas Riggs Saltbox House/The Roxbury Township Historical Society at 213 Main Street in Ledgewood, NJ and the King Canal Store and the King Victorian Home at 209 and 211 Main Street right next store to the house. The sites were closing up shop for the afternoon, but they were nice enough to stay open so that we could have a long visit.
I am so happy that we could visit the sites as the people running them were so interesting and they took such good care of the sites. A few of the volunteers said that this always happens that someone comes late, and they were hoping to close on time, but they take such pride in all these sites that they did not mind staying for us.
Our first stop was the King Canal Store. The store had been sealed off after the death of Albert King by his wife, Emma. After his passing, she followed his wishes and closed the store down only opening it during the Great Depression when locals needed supplies.
After Mrs. King’s death in 1975, the store and her home, the King Homestead were bought by the Rotary Club of Roxbury, NJ and they set out to renovate and restore the site. The King Canal Store was left untouched and is a step back in time when the Morris Canal was a major form of transportation in the state. The store had been open since the Civil War and closed on the eve of the Great Depression even though the family had been seeing declining sales since the closing of the canal to traffic.
The King Canal Store is a step back in time when this was the neighborhood gathering place
Next to the King Canal Store at 211 Main Street is the King Homestead built in the Queen Ann style by Albert King for his family. The house was closed by that point, but I was able to walk the grounds and on the porch. It is a spectacular home.
The last place on the tour before we ended the first day of touring sites was the Silas Riggs Saltbox House at 213 Main Street. The home had been Emma Riggs King’s parents and it had been moved to this site when it was threatened with demolition. The home is a perfect example of the “Saltbox” architectural style.
The Silas Riggs Saltbox House/The Roxbury Historical Society at 213 Main Street
I loved touring this smart little house. Talk about well taken care of and well appointed. The home is well decorated with vintage antiques and artifacts and when you walk in the door you have this welcoming feeling. The house is so warm and cosey that volunteers have commented that people feel that they could move in here.
The front room of the Silas Riggs Saltbox House
What I enjoyed about the Silas Riggs Saltbox house is that the home was decorated in period furnishings that all worked to welcome you into the home. It was almost like the people who lived there just left for the afternoon.
What I really liked about the house was the back-room kitchen with the open hearth. Not only was it a perfect place to cook but it must have been the gathering place for the family and also heated the house. One of the volunteers told me that they had a successful “Soup Dinner” fundraiser during the holidays where they made homemade soup from scratch and homemade cornbread as well. It must be nice to eat a hearty meal in this period home during Christmas as the family once did.
The rustic kitchen at the Silas Riggs Saltbox House
After the house closed for the after, all the other sites had closed at 4:00pm as well and we made our way down Route 10 just off the old main street and then back on to Route 46 East to head home. It had been getting warmer all day and we both needed a snack before dinner. It was by coincidence that we just happened to pass the Dover Dairy Maid Ice Cream store at 240 East Route 46 and stopped for a cone.
Never having travelled down this part of Route 46 East before, I had never seen this popular place for ice cream and all of a sudden, I turned the car and needed some ice cream. There are times in life that you take a different bend in the road, and this was one of the more popular ones. Their homemade ice cream was amazing.
The Dover Dairy Maid at 240 East Route 46 is the best
While my aunt tried the Mint Chocolate ice cream, I had a yearning for something more fun and I got a bowl of Cotton Candy ice cream and at $5.45 for two large scoops, it was a reasonable trip. It is nice that a business not only does not gouge a customer but offers that personal service was reflective of when I was a kid in the 1970’s when this business opened. I felt like it was a step back in time when things were simpler. We even at our ice cream out on the benches in the back of the store. Talk about 70’s! Between here and Hacklebarney Farm I felt like a kid again.
There was no traffic on Route 46 East that evening and got home in record time. My aunt and I needed some recovery time, so I dropped her off and met her for dinner later that evening. We finished off the evening at Napoli Pizzeria at 25 Washington Street #2 in Lodi, NJ for dinner. Napoli’s food is consistently excellent, and I love their pizza. The best part is that the parking is always plentiful and never have to travel far to go.
Napoli Pizzeria at 25 Washington Street #2 is wonderful for lunch and dinner
It was a nice evening chatting over a cheese pizza ($10.95) and a glass of wine. We talked about all the sites we had visited and the ones that we could not and made plans to revisit some of the sites in the future. There was a lot more to see and do in Morris County. It was a nice way to end the first day of touring and it had been such a perfect sunny day that it was a pleasure to stop and really enjoy each site.
The historical marker at the Ayres-Knuth Farm at 25 Cooper Street
On the second day of the “Pathways’ tour, my aunt was busy, so I started early with a quick breakfast at home and was on my way back to Morris County for a second day of adventure. My first stop on the tour was the Ayres/Knuth Farm (The Ayres/Knuth Farm Foundation Inc.), a former working farm just off Route 10.
The main farmhouse on the Ayres/Knuth Farm
Not only was the site open for touring but they also had a mini car show with antique cars and fire trucks owned by some of the members. Seeing some of these Model T Ford’s and Steam Engine Fire Trucks in perfect condition shows American quality motorship at its finest.
What interested me about the farm is that it had been a working farm up until the last fifty years and showed the progression that the farm took in its almost 100 years in the county. The farm itself dates back to pre-Revolutionary War days with the farm being purchase in either 1735 or maybe 1759 by Obadiah Lum. The property itself was settled and developed by Daniel Ayres, who was born in New Jersey in 1778 (The Ayres/Knuth Farm Foundation).
The Ayres-Knuth Farm and the outer buildings
105 acres of land was given to him by his father-in-law, David Garrigus upon the marriage of his daughter, Hanna in 1803. His son, William took over the farm in 1856 upon the death of his father in 1856, changing the farm to add husbandry and fruit cultivation. When William retired in 1896, none of his children wanted the farm and it was sold. Changing hands many times, it was bought by Martin and Anna Knuth in 1906. The farm was taken over by two of their children and it remained in the family until the 1990’s upon both of their passings. In 1996, the Township of Denville purchased 52 acres of the original farm and it is now managed by the Ayres/Knuth Foundation Inc. (The Ayres/Knuth Farm Foundation).
On this clear and sunny Sunday morning, it was fun to walk around the former working farm to see how it developed. Both families learned to modernize and add to the operation. I was able to tour the smaller tenet farmhouse (built in 1895), the barn (built in 1895 (and the various outer buildings like the chicken coops (built in 1895), outhouse (built in 1930) and the Smokehouse (built in 1825). The small well was built in 1797 and was the oldest structure left on the property.
What got my attention is that there still are tenant farmers on another tract on the property still working the land and the property is protected by grants from Morris County. So, it still is technically a working farm. A lot of care was taken to preserve the farm as is and the volunteers told me that there were plans to fix up the other buildings. The Tenant House needed a lot of work and was run down but the main Farmhouse had been renovated and was closed that day.
After having a nice conversation with many of the volunteers about the development on the farm, I was off to the next site, The Whippany Railway Museum at 1 Railroad Plaza in Whippany, NJ. I usually don’t get excited by railway museums one looking like another but the care and dedication of the volunteers of this museum is just mesmerizing. They really care about the detail and condition of every railcar and artifact that comes into possession of this museum, and it shows by the way its displayed.
The Museum was so well organized and told the story of the rail systems not just in New Jersey but their development all over the country. Unlike some rail museums that I have been to where they put dishes, lanterns and tickets all the same shelves, the Whippany Railway Museum took a lot of pride in setting up their displays more as a progression to how the railways evolved over time starting with coal, then to steam and then electric.
Not only that it was the way people traveled and how dining and then First Class tried to rival the growing Jet Age travel to keep customers. Each case line told a story. The cases show a progression in communication, ticketing, uniform, dining and equipment used on the trains. Take time to look over the information supplied in the cases as well. They also have a nice gift shop inside the museum.
It was the hour-long walking tour that really blew me away. This volunteer named Mike walked around the museum asking people if they would like to take a tour at noon and then for the next hour and a half, we toured all the train cars.
Each of the train cars were at different stages of renovation and some were fully restored. Mike explained to our small tour group that different members of the museum had special skills, and everyone had a hand in restoring the cars. The volunteers all dressed like period conductors and would be stationed at each car to describe the railcar to us.
Where the museum really shines and where I saw the most pride is in the rail cars that have come to the yard over the years and have been carefully restored. The Southern Railway No. 385 built in 1907 for faster freight service, the Texaco Fireless Cooker No. 7240 built in 1937 for industrial switching duty and one of the newest steam locomotives still surviving, the U.S. Army No. 4039 built in 1942 for WWII service are just some of the cars on display (Whippany Railway Museum pamphlet).
The railcar that most impressed me was the Lackawanna Railroad Subscription Club Car No. 2454 that was once known as the “Millionaires Express” (Whippany Railway Museum). The mahogany paneled car carried businessmen from New York City through towns in the middle of New Jersey. What I thought was interesting was the people who rode it (Christie Todd Whitman’s father was a member) and the fact that you had to ‘buy’ the seat, which meant that no one could ever sit in ‘your chair’ if you were not there. This car ran for 72 years finally retiring out in 1984 (probably due to the recession and changing times).
After the extensive tour was over, I visited the model trains that were riding around the outside of the rail cars and talking with other volunteers on what the future plans of a new railcar that just arrived. I also walked up to their snack shop that is at entrance of the museum site and was bummed when they did not have any of the large pretzels in stock. The woman said that they are their most popular item and had not arrived for the tour day. I then moved on to my third site, The Whippany Burying Yard at 325 Route 10 East.
The Whippany Burying Yard was also having a tour that I just made when I arrived. It was given by a retired college professor who had lived in town all of his life and knew the history of the cemetery quite well. The old cemetery is steeped in history as one of the oldest cemeteries in New Jersey and home to many Revolutionary and Civil War veterans. As we learned on the tour later on, the only people that can be buried there now are former Mayors of the Town of Whippany who have died.
Two of the founding families of the town have many family members buried here, the Tuttle’s who still have relatives living in the area and the Kitchel’s. The guide for the afternoon took us on an hour tour of the cemetery, pointing out prominent members of the war years including Timothy Tuttle (died 1754), a founding judge of Morris County, Keturah Tuttle Platt (died 1850), who was a Charter member of the First Presbyterian Church, Captain Timothy Tuttle (II of III-died in 1816), who was a member of George Washington’s First Regiment in the Continental Army, Samuel Tuttle (died in 1762) and Colonel Joseph Tuttle, a blacksmith and Deacon at the Presbyterian Church who served in the French & Indian War.
The entrance to the Whippany Burial Yard
The Kitchel family was prominently represented as well with Abraham Kitchel (died in 1741), who was one of the six original judges of Morris County and his wife Sarah, whose family was claimed to date back to Charlemagne, Emperor of France, Abigal Kitchel (died in 1768), Uzal Kitchel (died in 1813), a Militiaman in the American Revolution and his wife, Anna (died in 1815). Many of these people as well as their ancestors made major contributions to the growth of the surrounding community.
We were also given a lesson in the construction and care of the old tombstones, some of which were beyond repair. Some of the original grave sites were made from sandstone, marble and granite with granite becoming the popular choice later on. Here and there some of the tombstones were decorated with winged skulls or cherubs. These show morality images of the dead (Whippany Burial Yard pamphlet).
We were also walking by the river that the graveyard sits on and were told that current erosian is affecting some of the grave sites. These might have to be moved in the future and the tour guide was not sure if any have been lost over the years. The old Presbyterian Church that sat on the site (built in 1718 and removed in 1755) has since disappeared and there is no trace of it now.
The Whippany Burial Yard has many different types of tombstones
At the end of the tour, the guide explained to us that the old Tuttle House, dating back from the late 18th Century was just left to the town by its last owner to be preserved as a museum for the community. The Tuttle house will need a lot of work in the future.
The Tuttle House at 341 Route 10 will be a future museum for the Historical Society
It was getting late in the day after my last tour, and I figured I had time to see one more site before the day was over. I wished they did not end the day so early at 4:00pm. It does not give people much time to visit all these sites in one day, but the museum tour guides made them so interesting that you did not want to leave so quick.
My last stop on the tour day was the Florham Park’ Historic Preservation Commission’s Little Red Schoolhouse and Hancock Cemetery at 203 Ridgedale Avenue. On the map it looked so far away but it was only ten minutes down the road from the cemetery and I got there in plenty of time to spend the last half hour of the day at the museum.
The Little Red Schoolhouse Museum at 203 Ridgedale Avenue
I was the only one there with two members who said that they were surprised on how busy the day was for them. They told me that almost every person who visited said the same things: either they passed the place a million times and never knew it was a museum or they lived here for about twenty years and never knew the town had a museum. I said I was from another area of the state, and this was my first time as well. The little museum is nicely set up.
In the back there is a small classroom set up keeping with the theme of the building. This lets students who are visiting the building of their counterpart’s early education with desks, ink wells and chalk boards that have not changed that much over the years. There are old desks and chalkboards and items that date either from the late 1880’s to about the 1930’s.
Not much has changed in the modern classroom over the years
There is early century clothing, farming equipment from the town’s farming past and event Native American objects found in the town and in private collections. Other items included decorative items from the home including dishware, home products and furnishings. Each section of the museum is divided up by lifestyle.
The docents that day explained that the items were reflect the town’s past and some came from families that have been in town for years. The museum reflects the community spirit of town’s past. It explains that times have progressed but not changed too much over the years. They also told me how hard they work to promote the museum.
I asked where the Hancock Cemetery was, and they told me down the road from the museum, so I left after about a half hour to let them close and looked for the cemetery. I never found it “down the road” so I was not too sure what direction they were talking about. By the time I got back to the museum, it was shut, and all the cars were gone. It was now 4:30pm. I decided to head off to dinner.
I got lost trying to take the back roads from Route 10 to Route 46 (later on when I got home, I found I was in the right direction but did not know it). I passed the Parsippany Historical Museum at the Bowlsby-DeGelleke House at 320 Baldwin Avenue on the way but at 5:00pm I could see one of the costumed docents was desperately trying to close up for the day, so I did not stop.
I finally made it to Downtown Boonton, NJ for dinner. The town was really quiet on an early Sunday evening. I passed the Boonton Historical Society and Museum at 210 Main Street that was closed for the evening. They had a full day of activities that day and must have closed early.
Boonton Historical Society and Museum at 210 Main Street
Ever since I got involved in the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association, I have been visiting this interesting little museum. They have the most intriguing walking tours on the history of the town’s development and on the ruins of the local iron works. They also have nice inhouse tours of the museum and very inviting Holiday Open House (pre-COVID).
Dinner that evening was a restaurant I had wanted to try several times but it either was not open or did not look open because there was no one in it. I2I at 408 Main Street just up the hill from the museum.
I had been looking forward to eating here for some time and even though the food and the service were quite good, the owner did something that really irked me, and I will not be returning anytime soon. (Please read my TripAdvisor review above for details on my experience).
After dinner, I walked around Downtown Boonton for a bit, looking over stores that had opened since the pandemic. The downtown is getting more and more hipster businesses and you can tell that an ‘artsy’ crowd is starting to move into the area. All the neighborhoods around the downtown are having a lot of home improvements from new paint jobs and windows to new landscaping meaning the artists from the City are starting to move in.
Please read my blog on Exploring Downtown Boonton, NJ-Day Two Hundred and Two:
I drove home later that evening. It had been an interesting two-day exploration to Morris County, NJ and I did not realize the rich history that it had. There are many more places that will be visiting in the future on their list as they open up for the summer months.
Please look at their link for more details and happy exploring!
We held the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association First Annual ‘ Halloween House Decorating Contest’ on Halloween morning. I had come up with the idea last year but because there was not time to put it together, I brought the idea up to the Men’s Association at our October meeting. I had another volunteer help me out with the assistance of his daughter and in a three day period we canvased the town and came up with about ten houses each.
We then narrowed it down to five each, four of which we had picked the same houses. So on the Monday night before Halloween, we visited each of the five houses and chose the winner. We narrowed it down to three houses and then the three of us with the help of our President and his wife, picked the top house. It was a difficult decision until the final night when we visited 253 Henry Street last and saw all the ghosts and ghouls coming out of graves, vampire children playing on a swing and things that go bump in the night crawling around. This was the home of Scott and Logan Vicario.
When I knocked on his door later that evening, he was really excited about winning. Scott Vicario had told me that, “We love Halloween and we love decorating the house for the holidays.” Some of the pieces he had on the lawn looked like film set pieces and he said he ordered these items online and kept adding to his collection. What won it for him was all the ghouls trying to escape from the graves that actually moved around. It was creepy and fascinating at the same time.
In the early morning, I met my aunt for breakfast in Wood Ridge, NJ and we planned the whole morning out. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast Halloween breakfast at Blue Café at 273 Valley Boulevard in Wood Ridge, NJ.
Over a platter of French Toast and a Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich on a roll and her ordering an omelet (See my review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com), we plotted our day of picture taking and showcasing the winners homes for the contest. You have to try their French Toast. It is amazing with all the cinnamon.
Blue Café is the former “Lucky Larry’s” at 273 Valley Boulevard in Wood Ridge, NJ
Breakfast at Blue Café is delicious. After we ate, it was off to present the awards.
On Halloween morning, we presented all the Honorary awards to the runners up and then presented the main plaque to Scott and Logan at noon. They were very excited and turned on all the props so that we could see them one last time. It was pretty amazing.
Scott and Logan Vicario of 253 Henry Street in front of their lawn of horror
Justin Watrel, Chairman of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association “Halloween House Decorating Contest”, Scott and Logan Vicario and Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Member and Judge, Pat Fass. We presented the award at noon on Halloween afternoon.
253 Henry Street was place of Ghouls and Zombie’s and things that scare you!
The decorations on the Vicario’s front yard are quite terrifying
After I finished presenting the award to the winners, I had to revisit the runners up so that we could take their pictures as well. It amazed me that so many people were not up at 11:00am in the morning. I had some time before I had to leave for Manhattan to volunteer for the Halloween Parade and I presented these awards with my aunt who was helping me take pictures that morning.
The runners up were 510 Henry Street, 85 Woodside Avenue, 82 Burton Avenue and 257 Central Avenue. The homeowners at 82 Burton Avenue and 257 Central Avenue were not home that afternoon and I returned to drop off those awards another day.
510 Henry Street in Hasbrouck Heights
510 Henry Street is owned by Mary Rose and Henry Blunda who were thrilled when they were Honorary Runners-up in the contest. Their front lawn was covered with displays of phantom riders, zombie’s and ghosts covering their lawn. “We love the holiday,” Mary Rose said. “We do this for kids,” her husband Frank added.
Mary Rose and Frank Blunda in front of 510 Henry Street in Hasbrouck Heights
Over at 85 Woodside Avenue, there was a large display of the undead walking all over the front lawn and crawling up the sides of the house. This fascinating display was creating by Lisa and Matt Fiduccia who were thrilled to be Honorary Runners-up in the contest well. Them and their two children who were preparing for an afternoon of Trick or Treating when they found out about the award.
85 Woodside Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights
The family very proudly took a picture in front of their creation. “We have a lot of fun with this on Halloween,” the couple said. The lawn seemed to come alive on Halloween morning as the sun shined on zombies and other undead walking the property.
Lisa and Matt Fiduccia and their family outside 85 Woodside Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights
The two Honorary winners were 257 Central Avenue with its interesting display of skeletons and undead crawling out of graves. The most interesting part of the display was the skeleton lemonade stand.
257 Central Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights
The home is owned by Barbara Donaigo, who we were able to give her award a few days after Halloween when she was home. “I love Halloween and decorating for it,” she told me when I presented her the award for her home.
The macabre skeletons in front of 257 Central Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights
The last home in Hasbrouck Heights to be awarded for its creative design was 82 Burton Avenue. Although the house was not decorated from head to toe, it was the displays that it did showcase plus the way the house was lit in the evening. The house had side windows similar to the “Amityville Horror” house with red lights shining through them.
82 Burton Avenue pays homage to the “Amityville Horror”. Notice the side windows
82 Burton Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights during the day
The witches outside 82 Burton Avenue guard the door and bubble, bubble
The family who owned the house were never home in the three tries so I left their award at the door. During the day, you would not have noticed it but at night the house had a mysteries glow to it.
After we finished handed out the awards with a little ceremony for each, I left for New York City to work at the Halloween Parade which I have been doing since 2014. I have been Marshalling the Performers Gate with my ‘cousin’ Mark (our families both have Colonial roots and our families had married into each others about four times 150 years ago so I tease him and call us ‘cousins’) for six years (we did not have the parade last year because of COVID-See Halloween Night 2020 on this blog).
‘Cousin’ Mark and I (the ‘Aristocrats’ at the gate of the Halloween Parade at Dominick Street) in the West Village
The weather could have not been nicer that day as it was about 68 degrees when I arrived at the parade route at 4:00pm. It started out very quiet as the volunteers arrived to check in but progressively got busier as the performers arrived for band and float assignments.
The Halloween Parade was a lot of fun this year. It was so nice to see the City come back to life for at least a day. People really came out for the parade since it was a beautiful day in the high 60’s. I was wearing a short sleeved polo until about 8:00pm. It ended up being 68 degrees that night, Not quite the 71 degrees of two years ago but still a warm night to be outside enjoying a parade.
We did not have any real problems at the gate and were finished with our assignment by 8:00pm. As we closed the gate and left the police in charge, I walked into the staging area and watched the last of the floats head uptown. It is so exciting to watch as the parade comes to life at this location. It is always so chaotic.
The beginning of the Halloween Parade is the best with the Skeleton puppets
What made this Halloween really special is that everyone was so happy to have a good time. All over New York City and the island of Manhattan, people felt they were allowed to go outside and enjoy the day.
People flooded cafes, restaurants and bars all over Lower Manhattan and Midtown and everything was so busy with people enjoying outdoor dining even at 9:00pm and mobbed every fast food restaurant and pizzeria. I have never seen so many smiles and so much joy in people’s faces as they enjoyed the warm weather and comradery on Halloween night.
Isn’t this what Halloween should be about even in the era of COVID? Still have safe fun?
The full Halloween Parade in 2021 in Greenwich Village