"We were concerned that there were not enough activities for adults," said Carmela Facchini, who happens to be the township's senior citizen director. "I knew that there were people interested in starting an excursion group."
With that, the Weehawken Weekenders was born.
Facchini and Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner combined forces to form the new group, geared to provide fun and exciting trips for adult residents, although seniors are invited to join and participate as well.
"We're trying to provide for the seniors as well as the non-seniors," Facchini said. "People have the impression that it's only for seniors because I am helping to organize it, but that's not the case. We want to appeal to those who are working and can't get a chance to go away until the weekend."
The Weehawken Weekenders have already taken two excursions. They visited the Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish Country and made a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. When word came out that they were planning a trip to the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, interest piqued.
"We sold out right away," Facchini said. "We're bursting at the seams."
The next trip planned by the Weekenders is a journey to the Culinary Institute at Hyde Park, N.Y. on March 8, where they will be treated to a four-course meal, prepared by some of the greatest chefs in the Northeast.
"It's the premier culinary school in New York," Facchini said. "Everything from soup to nuts is on the menu. It's a beautiful ride up there, and we'll also tour the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Museum and his home in Hyde Park."
The cost of that trip is priced at $81. That includes the meal, transportation, and admission to the museum.
After that, the group has a weekend trip to Niagara Falls planned for the first weekend in May. That trip will include two nights of lodging, transportation, meals, and sightseeing.
"Because that is an overnight trip, children are also welcome," Facchini said. "We're encouraging families to take advantage."
Turner applauds the efforts to get this new excursion group off the ground. "It's an opportunity to provide additional services and forms of entertainment for our residents," he said. "When you're constantly pushing senior citizen activities, it's hard to get younger adults interested. This is different than anything we offer the seniors. We provide transportation, which is a key, because all the legwork is done. I think it's also neat to see places that may be a little out of the way, because we can provide a way to get there."
Turner accompanied the group to the trip to the Amish Country and to the Metropolitan Museum.
"We did have other adult groups that did things for residents, like take trips to the theater, but for some reason or another, those groups went by the wayside," Turner said. "So those people approached Carmela and myself to see if there was something we could do. The first two trips were enjoyable with no hassles. I think we've been able to broaden our variety of entertainment."
Facchini is hopeful that the trip to the Culinary Institute gets enough interest. "We have to reiterate that it's not just for seniors," Facchini said. "Bring a friend and you'll have a good time."
Participation in the Weehawken Weekenders is not reserved for Weehawken residents, so residents can encourage out-of-town friends to come along.
Facchini said that members are supplying her with other ideas for future trips.
"There are some who want to see if we can plan a trip to Las Vegas, but that will be sometime in the fall," Facchini said. "Word is getting around. Everything has been great so far. I think it can really take off if the right people are reached."
"Not every trip is geared to everyone," Turner said. "We just want to provide a broader spectrum for our younger adults."
If anyone is interested to know more about the trip to the Culinary Institute or other Weehawken Weekender activities, contact Carmela Facchini at the Weehawken Senior Citizens office at (201) 319-6060 during business hours.