At North Bergen’s 16th annual senior picnic, not only were seniors treated to a day outside of their homes, but Gov. Jon Corzine stopped by while on the campaign trail.
According to North Bergen Commissioner Theresa Ferraro, whose department organizes the event, around 1,000 seniors were bussed to Schuetzen Park Ballroom on Wednesday.
A disc jockey played oldies and seniors danced and enjoyed refreshments. They also had the opportunity to meet their elected officials. North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco attended the picnic along with commissioners Frank Gargiulo, Hugo Cabrera and Allen Pascual, as well as Hudson County Executive Thomas DeGise.
Hudson County Surrogate Donald De Leo, who was the host, also used the day as a platform for himself and his runningmates. Assemblyman Vincent Prieto and Assemblywoman Joan Quigley were present and are running for reelection in November on the Democratic ticket with De Leo. Since Democratic voters outnumber Republicans in Hudson County 5 to 1, the Democrats generally win.
“It’s a very good time.” – Jim Caffaro
He said that Sacco was the best mayor in New Jersey and that North Bergen was “on the move.”
“And he occasionally comes to Trenton and tells me what to do, too,” said Corzine, referring to Sacco’s other role as state senator.
Corzine told attendees that New Jersey is one of three states to have an increase of residents with health insurance. He said the state has 150,000 new policy-holders. He also reminded them about a property tax benefit. He said that seniors could be exempt from increases in their property taxes.
“One of the things that I’m always fearful of, and I heard it here, is that there are people that don’t know about the available services and benefits that they can take advantage of,” said Corzine. “There are people who do not apply for the senior freeze. We know; we can check the tax records against the age group.”
Senior citizens Victor Dominguez and his wife Gisela were attending the picnic for the first time. They said they enjoyed the event and the dancing.
Jim Caffaro said the picnic enabled him to meet new people.
“We have a wonderful time and we’re enjoying the food and the dancing,” said Caffaro. “They have a lot of activities for seniors. It’s a very good time.”
“The seniors look forward to it,” said Ferraro. “Its one day a year that they all come together and they all remember each other from the year before and they make the promise to be back another year.”
Many of those who spoke to the seniors praised them for living through tough times.
“You have given everything to the generations that followed,” said Sacco. “You fought [in] wars. You built the country. You went through the [Great] Depression. You made us strong. You deserve everything that’s good.”
Those up for election reminded the seniors that the country was in a similar state of turbulence now.
Sacco said that he wasn’t sure if Corzine would gain any new votes, since he believed those in attendance were largely Democrats already.
Tricia Tirella may be reached at TriciaT@hudsonreporter.com.