Secaucus kicked off summer with an event that may become a popular tradition: the Hometown Street Fair, a two-day town festival that included a clock dedication, concerts, and even a dunk tank.
The fair took place Friday evening, June 10, and all day on Saturday. The town’s central streets were lined with carnival games, kid-friendly attractions, face-painters, community organizations, local businesses, and food vendors selling everything from fried Oreos to shish kabobs.
Two octogenarian residents said they were happy for the opportunity to gather and to see the town hold its very own street fair.
“The whole idea is to get different people to see what’s out here, and we did just that.”— Mayor Gonnelli
Josephine Grutkowski, 85, a 45-year resident of Secaucus, said, “I am out to see what is going on. I think it is very nice.”
The name of Marra’s Drug Store appears on one of the four faces of the official town clock, which was dedicated during a ceremony presided over by Mayor Michael Gonnelli on Saturday shortly after the street fair began.
At 16 feet, the clock stands amidst a blossoming flower bed at the intersections of Plaza Center and Front Street, demarcating the town center. Town council members, officials, clock sponsors, and visitors to the town fair gathered to hear the clock dedication.
Gonnelli said he wants to revitalize the downtown area and make it more of a destination. He hopes that the clock will foster a sense of Secaucus as “One big, happy family.”
Fundraising for the clock began last November with the opportunity for residents to “adopt the clock” at various sponsorship levels. The main three sponsors at the $5,000 level were Marra’s Drug Store, the development Xchange at Secaucus Junction, and developer Hartz Mountain Industries. The fourth face of the clock remains open for sponsorship and the town continues to seek all levels of sponsorship.
“The clock paid for itself with sponsors,” said Mayor Gonnelli in his dedication remarks. Following the ceremony platinum and gold level sponsors that gave contributions of $450 or $5,000, received special pewter replicas of the clock.
Maria and Joe DeMartine, both 89, attended the event. “There is no other town as good as Secaucus,” said Maria.
Cool beginning to summer
Friday night saw a steady flow of foot traffic. “It is a great street fair,” said Christie Minigiello, aromatherapy vendor at the table for Everyday Makes Scents.
On Saturday, 8-year-old Victoria DaVanzo said she was out with family to celebrate her grandmother’s birthday and to get her share of fried Oreos.
Other youngsters came out to see the puppet show by Puppet Fantasy Theatre, which presented Aladdin’s Lamp, a main attraction that drew a sizable crowd. The show generated a lot of audience participation as kids helped Aladdin along in his quest to find his lamp. Umbrellas popped up one by one as it began to drizzle, but families stuck through the performance.
In addition, the Reporter’s very own E. Assata Wright took her turn in the tank, braving the chill as she got soaked. After covering Secaucus for three and a half years for this newspaper, Wright is moving to the Reporter’s Jersey City beat. Even Gonnelli gave her a proper send-off. He was proud to hit eight out of 10 dunk throws on the mark.
Attracting out-of-town visitors
Besides thrilling its residents, the fair was successful at drawing in out-of-town visitors.
“We always come over to Secaucus to go shopping. We are here every week,” said New Yorker Laverne Lord, 48, who saw the fair on her visit to town and decided to stop by. She decided to take in the puppet show along with her husband Ludlow Lord, 53 and 14-month-old son Lennox.
The fair also helped dispel the perception by out-of-town visitors that Secaucus is mostly outlets and big box store shopping.
“I didn’t know this part of Secaucus even existed,” said Marshall Katzman, puppet show owner and puppeteer from Ridgewood.
The mayor pronounced the fair as “Nothing but success…the whole idea is to get different people to see what’s out here, and we did just that.”
See the photos for more.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.