Celebrating Mother Earth
Greenfest draws crowds for environment
by Al Sullivan
Reporter staff writer
May 26, 2013 | 3590 views | 0 0 comments | 60 60 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DRESSED UP AS A BUTTERFLY – Educators made their point in various ways, but none as original as this full-sized display of a butterfly.
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The weather was perfect, neither too hot nor too cold, as Secaucus unveiled its annual Summer Green Festival, a day-long outdoor community affair dedicated to the environment.

Although the hot air balloon would not take off due to stiff wind off the Hackensack River, nearly everything else went as planned as groups promoting the environment gathered not only to entertain people, but to educate them as well.

Moved up to May 4 to better coincide with Earth Day – an event first celebrated in 1970 with the rise of a renewed environmental movement – the Green Festival attempted to provide a host of activities for everyone, from pony rides and puppet shows for the very young to more educational programs about aspects of the environment and how to get along with nature.

“This really turned out well,” said Mayor Michael Gonnelli, who roamed from exhibit to exhibit with an expression nearly as exuberant as the kids who participated in some of the interactive features.

This year the town cosponsored the event with Xchange at Secaucus Junction, where there were more than 50 booths, tables and other displays stretched across the public space to the edge of the river.

This festival is an outgrowth of the former Riverfest, which was put on for about a decade in nearby Laurel Hill Park – then sponsored by the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission – to highlight the environmental restoration of the once-polluted Hackensack River. Four years ago, after Gonnelli became mayor, the town revived the yearly event as a celebration of the environment.
“This really turned out well.” – Mayor Michael Gonnelli,
Gonnelli, a master gardener and one time head of the Secaucus Department of Public Works, has long been known for his support of environmental issues. Gonnelli also served for many years as the Secaucus representative to the NJMC, whose focus changed from management of development to a more proactive environmental protection role over the last decade.

Traces of historic Secaucus

While the event had many exhibits, it also had fun events such as rock climbing, jousting, bullriding, pony rides, carriage rides, river cruises, and many, many farm animals, including three rather shy pigs, an throwback to historic Secaucus that was once known for its pig farms, nurseries, and iron foundries, many of which existed within earshot of this year’s festival.

With the crash of Wall Street markets in 1929, Secaucus became a hub of pig farms, slaughter houses and other activities, much of which supplied troops during World War II. The end of the war, however, changed Secaucus from a farm community to Hudson County’s first suburb, as soldiers returning from the war sought to raise families, and many of the farms gave way to housing development and much later warehouses.

The Green Festival in some ways helped return Secaucus to its rich roots in the 19th century, when it was also known for its green houses and its massive output of vegetables and flowers.

The butterfly exhibit, a popular attraction from the June 2012 Green Festival, also featured an educator, who dressed up in a delightful butterfly outfit.

The town also unveiled its community garden.

Al Sullivan may be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com.

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