*Bloggers note: It was another successful year. We sold out by December 9th!
Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association members at the Christmas Tree set up November 25th, 2022
Christmas is here!
At 8:00am (actually 7:45am), the truck from Canada arrived in Hasbrouck Heights to deliver the 400 Christmas trees we ordered for the Annual Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Christmas Tree Sale starting the day after Thanksgiving.
The truck arrived early
I was in the middle of eating breakfast when I got the text that the truck arrived a half hour early (after being over an hour late the previous year) and gobbled down my meal and rushed over to help onload trees. Most of the other guys must have done the same as we all trickled in as a small group of us started the take the trees off one by one.
Our President, Steve Palladino, helping onload the trees
One by one we unloaded all 400 trees
The previous weekend (when I was at the Cornell vs Columbia game), the members of the Men’s Association set the Christmas Tree Stand up so that it was ready for delivery this weekend. On top of set up, the guys also had to rebuild part of the shed that we do business in. I think we can another year out of it.
The stands we have been using for years
Keeping every section organized
Each tree as it was unloaded had to be counted, sorted, organized by pile, and then placed on the racks by size, type (Balsam or Frazier), price point and then had to be tagged for sale. We have had the same routine for over twenty years so we are pretty organized. We work in teams with our more seasoned members keeping things organized.
Our Treasurer, Lou Verdi, keeping the piles and racks organized
Tagging and sorting the trees takes time. Thank God it was 55 degrees today
All the Christmas unloaded, organized and ready for selling
We got the racks filled with some of the beautiful and nicely smelling trees. Each tree had to tagged according to its tree type and size and then double checked again. We managed to empty the truck by 9:00am and tagged most of the trees by 10:00am. We had our first two customers by 10:30am and sold two trees before we were even finished unloading and tagging. This broke last year’s record of 11:00am.
The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Christmas Tree stand ready for business
The truck left by 9:15am for its next stop with us having taken the trees off the truck in an hour. Talk about team work!
The truck left on time
After we got the lot organized, sorted, tagged and priced, most of the guys left for the morning ready to arrive on their next shift while a group of us stayed back to make sure that everything was done. There are always a lot of last minute things to do. The press arrived to take pictures of the lot and then we took our annual group shot for the organization.
The men of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association proudly opening the sale in November of 2022
We are at the lot on the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Terrace Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ until the last tree sells. Last year, we finished the sale in eleven days. We are hoping for just as good of a sale this year as well.
Last year, we gave over $16,000 in scholarships to graduating seniors of Hasbrouck Heights, NJ.
The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association open for business on November 25th, 2022 at the corner of Franklin Avenue and Terrace Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ.
The commercial that I shot for the Christmas Tree Sale in 2015. It must be working as we are getting more people from Manhattan and Brooklyn.
These clips are from the brillant independent film on Christmas Tree selling and relationships from 2015 “Christmas, Again”:
The trailer for the film “Christmas Again”:
The Director talking about the film “Christmas, Again”
Listening to Taylor Swift when selling Christmas Trees:
The Closing of the site on January 21st, 2023:
All good things come to a end and we closed the Christmas tree site down for the season on January 21st, 2023. About twenty of us gathered at 9:00am (some earlier) and took the site down, cleaned it up and put everything away in storage.
The start of the Christmas Clean Up at 9:00am
It was another great season! Thank you for everyone who supported the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Christmas tree sale! The community support is very much appreciated every year. Thank you!
Taking down the shed for the last time.
Everyone working together to take the site down for the season.
The last of the site cleaned up for the season
The site is fully cleaned up (and then some) and we are all set for the Spring and the upcoming sale in November 2023. See you all Thanksgiving Weekend!
Haunted Hasbrouck Heights returns with the Second Annual Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Halloween Decorated House Contest 2022
It was a series of long drives around town, late nights looking at spooky lights, figures of fright and things that go bump in the night but the members of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Halloween Decorating Contest made a decision who had the best decorated house and downtown business in Hasbrouck Heights.
Decorations at 85 Woodside Avenue
Like last year the decision was tough but we chose 85 Woodside Avenue, the home of Matt and Lisa Fiduccia, last year’s runners up. The house was decorated to the hilt with ghosts, ghouls and figures that frightened the passersby. “We learned more from last year,” Matt Fiduccia said when they found out they won this year’s contest. “We added more to it.”
85 Woodside Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights Halloween 2022-Winner
The zombies and ghouls of 85 Woodside Avenue
The committee liked the theme of the property, the organization of the props and decorations of the doorway and the lighting of the house the night before Halloween which really showcased their creativity. The family was really excited about winning this year and the whole Fiduccia family joined Chairman Justin Watrel and Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association President Steve Palladino for the presentation of the plaque and official sign from the organization declaring them winner. It was an award well deserved.
Chairman Justin Watrel with the Fiduccia family at 85 Woodside Avenue
Winners Matt and Lisa Fiduccia with their children and the official sign from the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association
It was a tough decision to make this year as last year’s winner, Scott Vicario and runners up last year Frank and Mary Rose Blunda also created wonderful displays that would dazzle and delight trick or treaters the next night for Halloween.
253 Henry Street-The Runner-up this year
This is the second year Scott Vicario created a moving cemetery and ghoul fest all over his front lawn starting with a possessed woman climbing a tree outside the property and a variety of ghouls and zombies climbing popping and walking around the yard. “I keep finding new things to add to the display,” Scott told the committee when he was presented his award. “I look for professionally made displays.” Mr. Vicario who lives at 253 Henry Street said he “has more planned for next year” to win the award back.
Last year’s winner, Scott Vicario, was runner up this year
Some of the decorations were truly frightening
Ghosts and ghouls at 253 Henry Street
Scott Varicario in front of 253 Henry Street
253 Henry Street was full of zombies and ghosts
The other runners up last year, Frank and Mary Rose Blunda, keep creating frightening but friendly displays that dazzle their Halloween visitors. Trick or Treaters keep coming back for the displays of vampires and pumpkin headed beasts.
510 Henry Street
“We really love Halloween and we do this for the kids,” Frank Blunda said. “The families get such a kick out of visiting our house every year.” The Blunda’s love that families take a special trip to see their home.
The Ghosts, Ghouls and Pumpkin Heads of 510 Henry Street
Mary Rose and Frank Blunda of 510 Henry Street were runners-up again this year
Chairman Justin Watrel with Mary Rose and Frank Blunda at 510 Henry Street
The House Decorating Committee added a Merchant Division this year and we were dazzled by Heights Flower Shoppe, who always displays their holiday merchandise so nicely. Ray Vorisek, the owner of Heights Flower Shoppe was very thankful to the committee for the award. “We always like decorating the store to the hilt for the holidays.
Heights Flower Shoppe at 209 Boulevard in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
People come from all over to visit us.” Both inside and outside, the store was full of all sorts of merchandise to decorate the house and for creative Halloween parties. Ghosts and witches flowed all over the store.
The decorations of the windows at Heights Flower Shoppe
With winner and owner, Ray Virosek
Chairman Justin Watrel with owner Ray Viroske outside the store with the official Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association sign
The Runner-up was Spindler’s Bakery, owned by Bob and Ginny Spindler, whose family business has been in Hasbrouck Heights for over fifty years.
Spindler’s Bake Shop at 247 Boulevard was this year’s runner up
“We have a creative team that works together here,” Mrs. Spindler said as she accepted her framed award. “It is a team effort that got the store ready for the holiday.” Spindler’s Bakery not only decorated the windows with pumpkins and bears ready for Trick or Treating but the store had all sorts of delicious looking decorated pastries and cookies, perfect for any Halloween Party.
The inside of Spindler’s Bake Shop with decorations and Halloween treats
Chairman Justin Watrel with runner-up winner, Ginny Spindler and her co-worker
We also wanted to mention the Honorary mentions, whose decorated home made the first and second round cut of the contest and we wish you luck next year. These are 110 Central Avenue, 458 Jefferson Avenue, 415 Madison Avenue, 115 Ottawa Avenue and 310 Bell Avenue. Good luck and have a wonderful and safe holiday season from the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association.
110 Central Avenue
110 Central Avenue
458 Jefferson Avenue
458 Jefferson Avenue
115 Ottawa Avenue
115 Ottawa Avenue
310 Bell Avenue
310 Bell Avenue
415 Madison Avenue
415 Madison Avenue
We will see everyone when Santa arrives when we start Christmas Tree sales the day after Thanksgiving. We sell out fast!
The Doll House at the Boulevard Circle in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
The Little Doll House on the Boulevard Circle in Hasbrouck Heights has been a landmark in town almost eighty years. The little house stood in the back of 122 Boulevard since I had moved into town in 1988 and was always painted the same way as the Neil Parrott Reality Company.
The Doll House was built in 1943 by owner Issac V. Young for his grandchildren and then the house was purchased by Neil Parrott for the family realty business. It was used as a playhouse for client’s children while their parents’ conducted business inside the office.
The Historical sign at the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
I know that I can be quite the traditionalist and like to keep up events that have been successful. I also like to build on them and see them grow over time.
The old Engine One Barbecue that we used to have after every Meeting/Drill night in June started as just a small dinner one night when we wanted to barbecue hamburgers and hot dogs after our drill. Members of our company were joined by other members from other companies enjoyed themselves and it was mentioned at our next department meeting. Some members complained that we didn’t invite them (they were more than happy to come to the drill night). So the next year we sent out invitations for the barbecue that would be after the drill/meeting night.
Firefighter Justin Watrel, Barbecue Chairman, June 2022 Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department Meeting night
For the next eleven summers, we continued the tradition and it grew over time and the menu began to vary. We went from simple hamburgers and hot dogs we morphed into creative salads, baked ziti and doctored up Baked Beans with things like black strap molasses, maple syrup hot sauce and cured bacon.
Homemade Baked Ziti and Potato Salad
I got even more creative with the desserts. I used to order an ice cream cake with a fire engine on it but no one would eat it. So I changed it around and did more traditional desserts like cake cookies, brownies and rice crispy treats. I even experimented with desserts that are traditional to a barbecue like watermelon and apple pie but they were not as popular.
Me preparing for dinner in 2017
As time went on, members would bring their family to the event and many of our old timers and their wives were invited so that they could meet up together again. We were averaging 50 to 60 people at every barbecue so it was hard to judge who to cook for that evening.
Our senior members with their wives at the 2015 barbecue
COVID affected the event just after we merged the department in 2019 and we stopped the event for two years. It was nice for me when the department voted to bring the barbecue dinner back at the May Department meeting. It gave me a chance to put my Hyatt banquet skills back and dig back into my culinary skills.
Setting up snacks and drinks at the barbecue
The menu was kept simple since it was just the department members after the June Department Meeting. We grilled hamburgers, hot dogs and Italian Sausage. For the sides, I made a homemade Baked Ziti, a Red Bliss Potato Salad with Bacon and Baked Beans with all sorts of chips and popcorn and for dessert I made traditional dessert of various flavored Cake Cookies, Brownies and Rice Cripsy Treats. Those Rice Cripsy Treats really disappeared.
What I liked about the barbecue was the compliments from the other guys on the department and what a good time they had. It was nice to bring this comradre back after this long spell of COVID. As usual, I want to thank Firefighter Bernie Valente for helping with all the barbecuing and for being our grill master.
Firefighter and Grill Master Bernie Valente
It’s good to make a group of firemen happy!
Firefighter Justin Watrel setting up the homemade desserts of brownies, cookies and rice crispy treats
The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department Annual Inspection May 21st, 2022
For the first time in two years (due to the COVID pandemic), the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department stood for Inspection for the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights.
All department members worked during the week washing, scrubbing and cleaning every piece of apparatus, cleaning all the tools and organizing all the cabinets to be sure that everything was in place. Then we cleaned the fire house from top to bottom. Every room was cleaned and vacuumed and shown the pride the department has in our firehouse.
The Department Inspection was led by Chief Tim Moots, First Assistant Chief Kevin Todd and Second Assistant Chief Mike Greco. The members stood attention for the flag salute, a special greeting by Chief Moots and speeches by invited dignitaries.
The Department invited the community to join in inspecting all of the department’s equipment and out of town chiefs judged each piece of apparatus, two engines, the ladder truck, the rescue truck and the two ambulances for appearance and equipment check. The rescue truck won that evening.
After the Inspection of the equipment was over, the members of the fire department and their invited guests joined together for an Italian dinner in our large meeting room. It was nice way for everyone to come together after a two-year gap.
Good luck and Godspeed to all members of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department in 2022!
Fire Fighter Justin Watrel assigned to the Ambulance Squad for “Best Equipment Contest” at the 2022 Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department Inspection.
The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association 2022 “Man of the Year” Annual Dinner March 25th, 2022
Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association honors their “Men of the Year”
On Friday, March 25th, the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association held their annual dinner for their members and their spouses. We chose Roma’s in North Arlington as it held a lot of good memories for the organization. We had held our 2019 dinner here right before everything closed due to the pandemic which had been another memorable night for the organization. Their food and service are excellent and the membership enjoyed a wonderful dinner.
Before dessert was served, President Steve Palladino gave a warm welcome to everyone. We talked about the successes we had in the previous year with our Golf Outing being one of the most prosperous in recent history and one of the best Christmas tree sales for the association. We sold a record number of trees in eleven days that generated a great profit for our scholarship fund.
The Executive Board presented our awards for “Volunteer of the Year” award for the member whose contributions over the last year made the association flourish. The Executive Board chose Mark Stefanelli, whose fundraising for our Annual Golf Outing made it the success it was this year. He really reached out to the community for sponsorship that raised a lot of money for the event and helped raise some of the biggest donations to make the Golf Outing the huge success that it was last year.
Executive Board Members Lou Verdi, Ken Wheeler, Winner Mark Stefanelli, Steve Palladino, Dennis Colton and Justin Watrel
Our “Man of the Year”, a man that honors the Hasbrouck Heights community with their dedication to the town, was resident and volunteer Tony Bonelli. Mr. Bonelli was an athlete at Hasbrouck Heights High School who not only led the school to many winning seasons but played multiple sports while attending.
Executive Board members Lou Verdi, Ken Wheeler, Steve Paladino, winner Tony Bonelli, Dennis Colton and Justin Watrel
He has for the last forty years helped in the Recreation Department, coaching teams, assisting in the grounds upkeep and when he got older contributed by assisting other coaches and lending his support to many of our town’s youth teams.
“Man of the Year” winner Tony Bonelli with his family at the HHMA Dinner
Both men have contributed a lot not just to making us a better organization but making Hasbrouck Heights the community that it is today.
Thank you to all the members who contribute so much over the previous years.
Members of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association having dinner
I dedicate this blog to great fellow Cornellian and former Giants football player, Kevin Boothe, who took time out of his busy summer schedule to come to the Hasbrouck Heights Library to visit the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library for the “Celebration of Books” event for the Library’s Summer Reading Program. We had over one hundred children and their parents attend the reading and reception for the event in July of 2013.
I had founded the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library in 2011 on the premise that there should be more for kids to enjoy at the library other than ‘kiddie things’ like “Mommie & Me” classes, teen book clubs and arts and crafts for kids. As a child I hated all that ‘baby stuff’ preferring ‘Nanny & the Professor’, ‘The Lucy Show’ and ‘That Girl’ over shows like ‘Sesame Street’ and ‘Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood’. I thought the shows were for ‘little kids’ as early as six. When it came time for movies, I enjoyed ‘On a Clear Day you can see Forever’ and ‘What’s Up Doc?’ to any of the kiddie fare they make kids watch at that age.
When Disney films like ‘Escape to Witch Mountain’ and ‘Freaky Friday’ and ‘The Bad News Bears’ came out, it really showed how kids behaved back then and the independence our parent’s generation gave us as children. They expected us not ‘little adults’ but kids to be mature, have responsibility and respect for the people around them as well as be our own person. We were the last generation to mature at our own pace and probably the last.
I wanted to share this experience with other kids who were like minded, who wanted more than just the run of the mill activities. Plus I was patterning the organization on some of the groups catering to kids in the City at the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Forum, bringing the City to the kids of Hasbrouck Heights with sophisticated programming that including classic and independent films, celebrity visits and contemporary activities. The year 2013 was the zenith for the organization with goal of innovative programming and special guests and we exceeded it in every way.
I had the goal of bringing a famous athlete to the Hasbrouck Heights Library for the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library’s Second Annual “Celebration of Books” event. After the successful visit from Mary Rodgers the year before in 2012, I wanted to do something to top it.
Mary Rodgers with us the year before for the ‘Freaky Friday’ event in 2012
Here’s my write up of that event in 2012 in MywalkinManhattan.com:
I had been contacting the Giants and Jets organizations for almost six months before the event trying to talk to their PR Departments and it was coming down to the wire. The Jets would not help us and stop responding to my emails and calls.
Kevin Boothe welcoming everyone
Our Library Director had left for vacation and could not be reached and our then President of the organization was at her beach house for the Summer when we got the last minute call that Kevin was available for a visit in a week. We had that one week of opportunity before Training Camp would begin. We jumped at the chance and arranged it for the next Wednesday and all had to pull together to organize the event in one week. When our Library Director arrived back from vacation that Monday, it was all hands on deck for the organization. I don’t think anyone knew how fast and hard we had to work for a one hour visit.
The Children’s Librarian at the time, Marie Joyce, jumped in and helped me out. She picked the book “Everyone can learn to Ride a Bicycle” by author Christopher Rashcka as an inspirational book for children to achieve their goals.
Author Christopher Rashcka and I in 2016 at the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library event I ran for their library “Teens, Tots & Toys”. I am holding the book “Everyone can learn to ride a Bicycle”.
Here’s my write up of that event in MywalkinManhattan.com:
It was an interesting children’s book about trying something new and accomplishing goals. It is something for kids to learn something new and be proud of it.
Our Children’s Librarian Marie Joyce with Giants player Kevin Boothe
There was a lot of excitement in the library that afternoon as the place filled with children and their parents many of the them coming from the town’s Summer Camp and a lot of them wearing Giants jersey’s. It had been a difficult afternoon as their was so much going on in the building at the time.
“Everyone can learn to ride a bicycle” by Christopher Raschka
There was a BCCLS meeting going on in the conference room that had ended by 2:00pm and the Senior’s were having their Summer picnic in the parking lot so parking was at a premium all over the building and they were also ending by 2:00pm. People were scrambling to leave the building as the air conditioning had broken down and they were trying to fix it while the event was going on. It was crazy afternoon.
Our event was at 3:00pm so things were just calming down when Kevin arrived with the Giants representatives. It has always amazed me that people don’t know what goes on behind the scenes before a visit. We had a to scramble to set up the tables for the reception, someone had to buy the food and set the tables and in the meantime someone bought jersey’s for a raffle that I knew nothing about. I was always last to know.
Kevin Boothe had a great football career when we met him. Kevin had been an All American when he played in Pine Crest Prep School in Florida. He played football at Cornell University (my Alma Mater as well), where he was a three time All Ivy League player and a member of the Quill & Dagger Society. Then in 2006 he was drafted in the sixth round by the Oakland Raiders where he played Right Guard for a year before coming to the Giants. He stayed with the Giants from 2007-2013 as a Left Guard and helped the team win Superbowl XLII and XLIV winning both times against New England. Kevin played for one more year with the Giants as a free agent and then finished his last year of play with the Oakland Raiders in 2014.
Kevin with his son at the Superbowl
I have to say that it was really stuffy in the library that afternoon with all those people and the air conditioning down. Kevin and Marie were both sweating through the reading but it all went by well. They read the book together while the books pages (which had been scanned earlier in the day) were shown to the audience. After the reading was over, we had a Q & A with the audience which all the kids were in awe.
Kevin at the Q & A with the kids in awe
For a group of small children, they asked some interesting questions especially on playing for the Giants and how he got into football. I was impressed by how he approached the kids and talking to them on their level while being engaging to everyone in the room. One thing was I was impressed with is when he said, ” Whether is its learning to ride a bicycle or playing football like me you can go after any dream in life. If your heart is in the right place, you can achieve anything.” (Patch.com). He talked about winning with the team the two Superbowl’s as the underdog team and how their coach inspired them to win.
After the Q & A, Kevin took a group shot with the kids and we had everyone join in the reception. It then got a little crazy as all the kids wanted autographs. Since Kevin was about to start Training Camp, he had to get back to the stadium as he had other work to do. I had agreed with the Giants Organization that there would be no autograph session as there would be no time but that didn’t stop the kids from banging on the office door where he and everyone else were cooling down in the only room where the air conditioning worked.
It was there that we took the picture with members of the Junior Friends of the Library for our group shot. It was a lot to track the kids down in the crowd and keep the other kids from coming in but we got the shot in which also made the Cornell Alumni Magazine.
Kevin and I with some of the members of the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library representing Cornell University for the Alumni Magazine
The afternoon ended a little crazy with a raffle I had to run (which I did not know about) and Kevin and the Giants Organization representatives leaving through the backdoor without me having to say goodbye and thank you. Still the reception went by well and the kids ate everything we put out. It was another great success for the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library and was one of the reasons why we were recognized by the BCCLS organization the next Fall for our outstanding work.
I wanted to dedicate this blog to Kevin Boothe, who made so many children and their parents happy that afternoon. You are a real gentleman and make Cornell University proud!