Tag Archives: Exploring Hasbrouck Heights NJ

Day Two Hundred and Five Halloween Returns Part II: The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association “Halloween House Decorating Contest” & The NYC Halloween Parade October 31st, 2021

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.

Halloween Morning:

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

https://www.facebook.com/happyhealthycafe/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g46937-d23716548-r815895779-Blue_Cafe-Wood_Ridge_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/615

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.

The winners:

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

My Life as a Fireman: Memorial Day Weekend May 31st, 2021

Memorial Day this year was rather quiet due to the ongoing COVID Pandemic so the traditional parade was cancelled.

Hasbrouck Heights had a small but tasteful ceremony at the Veteran’s Memorial Park on Terrace Avenue. The Mayor and the council said some nice words about our veterans from town and the members of the VFW were present who felt up for the ceremony.

Hasbrouck Hts Fire (@Heightsfd) | Twitter

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at the Firemen’s Memorial Park on the Boulevard

After the ceremony, we had a small ceremony at the Firemen’s Memorial at the Circle on the Boulevard. Again the service was short and tasteful as we honored our fallen brothers from the department.

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department saluting our fallen Brothers and Sisters

It was a nice afternoon to pay our respects for the people of our community that have done so much for us.

Happy Memorial Day!

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 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”.

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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

My life as a Fireman: The 10th Annual Engine One Barbecue at the Hasbrouck Heights Firehouse June 7, 2017

My time on the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department

We ran the barbecue for 11 years. Me baking up a storm for dessert for the barbecue in 2017.

Our engine company used to run the barbecue the first week of June every year. We had a lot of fun.

My life as a Fireman: The Brothers of Engine One HHFD attend Hydrogen Car Training at the B.C.F.A. in Mahwah, NJ March 24, 2018

My time on the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department

The Brothers of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department

My life as a Fireman: The Brothers of Engine One H.H.F.D. participate in the Annual Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department Inspection May 12, 2018

My time on the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department

Our rig, Engine One, during the time of Inspection

Inspection of 2018 at the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department

My life as a Fireman: The Brother’s of Engine One HHFD hold their 11th Annual Barbecue at the firehouse June 8th, 2018

My time on the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Deparment

The Engine One Barbecue promotes Brotherhood within the Department and welcomed all our members and honorees.

My life as a Fireman: The Brothers of Engine One participate in 9/11 Ceremonies on September 11, 2018

My time on the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department

Dedicated to our fallen Brothers and Sisters in New York City and their families and loved ones and to all those who lost their lives that day, we will never forget you!

My life as a Fireman: The Brothers of Engine One HHFD at the Annual HHFD Inspection May 13th, 2017

My time on the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department

Us at the 2017 Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department Inspection lunch.