In the famous movie “Field of Dreams,” the actor James Earl Jones describes a mystical situation in which people, for reasons they can’t fathom, are drawn to the otherwise quiet state of Iowa, up the driveway of Ray Kinsella’s corn farm and on to the bleachers of the magical baseball field he built there.
“The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again,” says Jones. “But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again.”
Weehawken, like Jones’ America, has changed over the past 13 years, but one thing has remained a constant, and it’ll be happening Tuesday night: The Taste of Weehawken, the public library’s annual fundraiser that draws attendees from around Hudson County and showcases the appetizers, entrees, and desserts of some of North Hudson’s best eateries. In the same way that baseball fans wandered to Kevin Costner’s Iowa baseball field, Weehawken residents might find themselves wandering towards Harbor Boulevard on the waterfront, drawn by a diverse mix of delicious aromas and promise of good company.
And perhaps even more importantly, the profits from the event, which usually go to fund children’s programs and improvements to the library, will this year be donated to the Weehawken & You Hurricane Relief Fund, which has been working since Hurricane Sandy last year to help those township residents most affected.
“We wanted the library to give back to neighbors and friends who have supported us for so long in their time of need.” - Leona Nersesian
There will also be five tables of wine and beer provided by Giannone Wine and Liquors.
Mayor Richard Turner, who attended a press preview of the event with some of the featured restaurateurs this week, said that he thinks this installment of The Taste will be one of the best ever, given that for the first time since 2008, the economy is starting to rise and restaurants are starting to regain their penchant for charity.
“When the recession hit, a lot of restaurants started to struggle, but this year we’ve got a higher number of restaurants participating than we’ve ever had before,” he said.
For Sandy recovery
Due to the fact that much of Weehawken is situated below sea level, Superstorm Sandy ravaged parts of town, including the low-lying Shades neighborhood that’s sandwiched between the Palisades cliffs and the bridges connecting to neighboring Hoboken. Of the few hundred homes built there, nearly all incurred serious damage, including flooded basements and first floors, ruined appliances, and damaged electrical wiring.
Since the storm, nearly all of the township’s charity events have benefited the Weehawken & You fund. Leona Nersesian, the library’s Board of Trustees president, said that the Taste will be no different.
“For many years, in good times and bad, this amazing community has rallied to support not only the Taste, but the library itself,” said Nersesian. “In the wake of this terrible disaster, we wanted the library to give back to neighbors and friends who have supported us for so long in their time of need.”
Some of the vendors echoed Nersesian’s sentiments.
“I’m excited that the funds will go to Sandy relief. I think that’s great,” said Jaworski, a Weehawken native. “I’m happy that I can contribute, even just a little bit, with my desserts.”
Joyce Flinn, who owns Amanda’s with her husband and raised her two children in Weehawken, said that the library was the setting of many special memories for her family.
“This has always been more of a community center than a place to simply get books,” she said. “So I think it’s fitting that the Taste will benefit the entire community. It shows the generosity and giving nature of the library.”
Turner said that he doesn’t think that way Weehawken has rallied behind its residents in need is unique to the township, but added that it certainly makes Weehawken a wonderful place to live.
“One thing about people in this country is that we rally behind each other. We’re the most generous people on earth,” he said. “We saw it after 9/11, we’re seeing it now in Boston, and we’ve been seeing it in Weehawken since the storm hit.”
Tickets for the Taste of Weehawken can be purchased at the library, located at 49 Hauxhurst Ave., or online at brownpapertickets.com. Tickets for the 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. portion of the evening, which includes a preview hour and door prizes, are $60, and tickets for the 7:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. portion are $35. For more information call (201) 863-7823.