Hundreds came out to the Hoboken waterfront last week for the 9th Annual Hoboken Spaghetti Dinner Block Party. On an ideal August afternoon, they ate ziti, rigatoni, meatballs, and sausage prepared by Paterson caterer The Brownstone on the walkway in front of Pier A Park. Proceeds from drink sales benefited the Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
According to Geri Fallo, Hoboken’s Coordinator of Cultural Affairs, the event was reborn on the 150th anniversary of Hoboken’s founding in 2005. During the planning for the sesquicentennial celebration, someone mentioned that the city had thrown a pasta dinner on Washington Street for the city’s 100th anniversary in 1955. City organizers decided to bring the event back, only this time on Hoboken’s revamped waterfront.
It didn’t take fifty years to have another one after that. The first spaghetti dinner in June 2005 was so successful that Hoboken had a second dinner at the end of the summer, and has held one every year since around the same time. Fallo estimated that 800 to 1,000 people showed up last year.
“If I had a big backyard, I would do this at home.”-- Geri Fallo
Patti Cunning said when she was growing up on Jefferson Street, everyone would meet in yards downtown to eat. She said she comes to the Spaghetti Dinner Block Party every year and loves seeing people she hasn’t seen all summer.
Fallo said she wished that events like the block party happened more often. “If I had a big backyard, I would do this at home,” she said.
Long-time resident Nick Feola said he still invites neighbors over to sit in the front garage of his house on Fifth and Monroe Streets. Feola came to the spaghetti dinner as a guest of BCB Bank, and said he enjoyed the opportunity to talk to contractors, inspectors, and bankers.
Some recalled when the waterfront where they sat was just docks and freighters. Bob Ferrelli of Jersey City Heights asked if people still went crabbing on the Hoboken Piers like they used to.
Jake Stuiver, the former chairman of the Hoboken Housing Authority board, came back up to Hoboken for the spaghetti dinner from Philadelphia, where he now lives. He said this year’s block party felt more neighborly and less political than it had in the past. Though many local politicians were present, including Mayor Dawn Zimmer, he said there was none of the atmosphere that was present in an election year.
Carlo Davis may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.