Each summer residents throughout Hudson County and beyond get a special treat of arts entertainment at the free concert series performed along the Weehawken waterfront.
And when the weather becomes to cool to enjoy a bevy of world-class entertainment outside, the fun moves indoors with a series of free lunchtime concerts in the UBS atrium at Lincoln Harbor.
Those events, as well as educational outreach programs in local schools with the artists who perform at them, are made possible by the Hudson River Performing Arts Center (HRPAC) – a New Jersey nonprofit organization with the mission of expanding and enhancing the arts in North Hudson. They someday even hope to build an arts center on the waterfront.
“If everybody gave back just a little to their area, that makes that little place in the world a special place.” – Peggy Stitzenberg
Weehawken residents Peggy Stitzenberg and Anne Rogaski are volunteers for HRPAC and co-chairs of the event committee.
Originally attracted to HRPAC as attendees themselves, both women agree that the organization is a community staple that helps bring the “two parts” of Weehawken (the waterfront and the heights) together, as well as connect the township with the surrounding areas.
“I love the fact that it’s such a community-supported event,” said Stitzenberg. “[HRPAC] really adds to the quality of life.”
The gala features a dinner, concert, and silent auction – which Stitzenberg said is known for creating some fun competition among attendees.
“We are so grateful to all the businesses that help and support us,” she said.
Businesses throughout the area donate to the auction, including local restaurants like Touch of Spice and Beyti Kebab on Park Avenue and large corporations like Shop Rite in Hoboken.
But one of the most interesting and popular items last year turned out to come from Dyke’s Lumber, which donated an air gun that was hotly contested, particularly among male attendees.
This year Dyke’s has donated items again. There is sure to be something for everyone with themed baskets (including an “Elvis” basket that has a recipe book featuring his favorites gastronomic delights like fried banana and peanut butter sandwiches) and gift cards from Hess – which could cause a riot with today’s gas prices.
The importance of giving
Both Stitzenberg and Rogaski agreed that their goal with this year’s gala is to raise as much money as possible to keep the free events along the waterfront going for residents.
Regardless of whether an actual performing arts center is ever built along the waterfront (the original main goal of HRPAC), Rogaski said the most important thing is the philanthropy the group provides through educational programs for students and quality entertainment for residents.
“If everybody gave back just a little to their area, that makes that little place in the world a special place,” said Stitzenberg. “[This] is a small, little thing but it affects the people in this area in a positive way. I can’t change the world, but I can make my neighborhood a better place.”
Grammy-award winning vocal ensemble New York Voices will provide the entertainment for the evening. This will mark their first appearance in Hudson County.
For the gala, they will bring out the best of their original songs as well as some classics from the vocal American jazz songbook and revamped versions of some old pop favorites.
“This is the kind of concert where we just enjoy doing a real mixture of stuff,” said group founder Darmon. “It’s fun and I think the audience enjoys seeing the mixture.”
According to Darmon, the group has been involved in numerous fundraisers over the years.
And the mission of HRPAC, which strives to bring a diversity of talent to the Hudson County area, is one that is close to their heart.
“We try to encourage and promote the idea that music, and the arts in general, does not have to be so categorized,” said Darmon. “We all are looking for this categorizing and in the process I think people are closing their minds to exploring what’s out there.”
The beauty of organizations like HRPAC, he said, is that you don’t need to know exactly what type of talent is being featured at each show but can just trust that you’ll be in for an interesting performance.
Get your tickets, sponsor, donate
The Hudson Riverfront Performing Arts Center Gala will be held on June 5 at 6 p.m. at the Chart House at Lincoln Harbor in Weehawken.
HRPAC is still actively seeking businesses interested in sponsorship opportunities or to donate something for the silent auction.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tickets to the gala are $300. For more information, visit www.hrpac.org or call (201) 430-6881.
Lana Rose Diaz can be reached at email@example.com.