Category Archives: Kids

Get Ready For Some Fall Fun… Jersey Style!

cranfall 02141 ss25The chill is settling in at night, the leaves are starting to change color and wisp away in the wind, and football season is in full swing. The weather is gorgeous in our lovely towns and the area is packed with the most quintessential events to “ease into fall”! It’s nice to have a handy guide of what’s on the schedule to give you options for these autumn weekends in Cranford, Westfield, and neighboring towns!

 

Cranford Paint Out 2017, Cranford (Saturday, September 16, 1:00-5:00 pm)

Cranford Paint OutThere’s still time to register by September 13!(visit Registration) If you love to paint and love our town of Cranford– you HAVE to attend this event sponsored by The Artist Framer of Cranford. Whether you are an adult or child, everyone is welcome to head to The Artist Framer to check in (11 am – 1pm day of event at 17 North Avenue East) and then go paint your vision of your favorite spot in scenic Cranford. Visit the event’s Facebook page at Cranford Paint Out FB Page for inspirational suggestions by The Cranford Historic Preservation Society. Vasari Classic Artists’ Oil Colors will be on hand to give you an opportunity to try some of their newest paint colors! Whether you participated in the event or just enjoy seeing artists in action – head to Alden Street at the closing to view all of the finished masterpieces!

 

Centennial Village Group 10th Music Fest, Cranford (Saturday, September 16, 4:00 – 9:00 pm)

IMG_5376Walk over to Lincoln School in Cranford (132 Thomas Street) and bring your friends and family to this FREE event! There will be live bands including Hugo Furst and the Lovehandles, local food vendors, lawn games, 50/50 raffles, and a tricky tray! This will be an entire evening of fun! All proceeds go to preservation and beautification of Centennial Village where some of our favorite restaurants and shops reside! Head to their Facebook page for more info at Music Fest FB

 

22nd Annual Fanny Wood Day 2017, Fanwood (Sunday, September 17, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm)

IMG_7158Go to South Avenue in Fanwood, NJ and the fun begins! The lineup for this festival is crazy! Local business and restaurant have put together insane contests such as the “Pancake Eating Contest”, “Chicken Wing Eating Contest”, and the “Bubble Gum Blowing Contest”! The local YMCA will be a huge attraction with their Family Zumba Class at 11:30 am, “Paint Your Own Y-Shirt”, “Make Your Own Slime”, and obstacle courses! In addition to these fun events, festival goers can experience a car show, local vendors, petting zoo, pony rides, rock climbing, kiddie rides, and live entertainment. Sounds like non-stop fun! For more info head to their Facebook page at FannyWoodDay2017 FB

 

28th Annual FestiFall, Westfield (Sunday, September 24, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm)

IMG_7159The Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce another fabulous lineup of events at FestiFall this year! Rain or shine – bring the entire family to Downtown Westfield to experience over 250 local vendors, arts & crafts, live music all day, children’s activities in the Kid Zone, and local culinary treats! For more information closer to the event, check out their Facebook page at FestiFall FB

 

7th Annual Rubber Ducky Race, Cranford (Sunday, October 22, 4:00 – 5:00 pm)

Ducky Race

Ducky Race

Cranford Ducky Derby

Hanson Park Conservancy brings you another highly anticipated event in October. Walk to Sperry Park and watch over 1000 individually numbered rubber ducks race down the Rahway River and spill over the falls to the finish line! Winning ducks will be announced at the event and coveted prizes are local merchant gift bags, local shop gift certificates, and monetary awards! Get your tickets for ducks now at Periwinkles (North Union Avenue in Downtown Cranford) or the Cranford Canoe Club (Springfield Ave). Single ducks are $5 and $20 will get you a flock of 5! These colored ducks are hot items and cannot be purchased the day of the race! All proceeds benefit Hanson Park maintenance and educational programs. Here is the Facebook page for the event: 7th Annual Rubber Ducky Race FB

 

 

13th Annual Feast of St. Michael, Cranford (September 28 – October 1)

IMG_7155Literally thousands of local residents will flock to St. Michael’s School Parking Lot (Holly & Alden Sts.) to celebrate the church’s patron saint during Feast Hours and enjoy fun for the whole family. Everyone loves this event and this year is no exception: popular bands every night including the Alden Street Band and Goldenseal, amazing rides, local vendors, and memories to last forever! The event kick-off is September 28th at 6:00 pm! For bracelet night/discount ride information head to their Facebook page at Feast of St. Michael FB

 

10th Annual Scarecrow Stroll, Cranford (October 24-November 5)

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For a decade, this has been a cherished tradition in Cranford. Everyone loves heading into downtown to see the newest and most creative scarecrow for the year and vote on their favorites! You, your family, or an organization from Cranford or any neighboring town can still register and design your own through their Facebook page at Scarecrow Stroll FB Page! Registration closes October 13. Since this is a special anniversary – it promises to be the biggest and best scarecrow event yet! I’ve heard there will be a special “Nighttime Stroll”. Get ready for some downtown fun!

 

Duke Farms in the Fall, Hillsborough Township (1112 Dukes Pkwy W, Hillsborough Township)

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Enjoy breathtaking sights at this sprawling estate in Hillsborough: just a 50 -minute car ride and you are in paradise! You’ll find “almost 1000 acres of land devoted to an ongoing exploration – of native species, preservation and sustainability efforts. Duke Farms brings you festivals, workshops, and an award-winning café! Come enjoy an “Autumn Waterfall Walk” where you can enjoy a 3-mile walk past 4 waterfalls and 6 water bodies, a Fall Mystery Walk, Bat Storytime for kids, and huge sunflower fields! Visit dukefarms.org for more info!

 

 

 

Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton Township (80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton Township)

Grounds For SculptureCelebrating 25 years – autumn is the perfect time to get away and explore the grounds. This is a 42-acre sculpture park and museum where, no matter where you roam, you will always stumble upon some stunning installment of art. It’s a “magical place where art and nature are always at play”. Just one hour away – take a drive for a “Moonlight Tour and Dinner” at the renowned Rat’s Restaurant, Vineyard dinners, Sing-a-Long Happy Hours, First Fridays, picnic lunches, and Tots on Tour. Our own Cranford Library even has museum passes for this destination! See the full calendar of upcoming events at groundsforsculpture.org

 

Liberty Hall Apple Harvest Time, Union (1003 Morris Avenue, Union NJ)

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Throughout September enjoy strolling through Liberty Hall’s gorgeous orchards – out back by the historic firehouse and firetruck! You can have a “semi- private” experience picking your own apples in this stunning landscape of apple trees, flowing shrubs, and trees displaying their change of colors. $8 for a small bag and $15 for a large bag. Call ahead at 908-527-0400 to make sure the apples are plentiful and ripe before you come! http://www.kean.edu/libertyhall/events/apple-harvest-time

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Summer

End of Summer Bucket List 2017 – It’s Not Too Late!

It’s crunch time! Summer is slipping away and the kids officially go back to school next week! I always feel like I need to do one last thing before the hustle and bustle of fall arrives. Spontaneous day trips are sometimes the most memorable adventures and there are a ton of fabulous things to do in our wonderful state of New Jersey. I love finding special places to share with everyone! Do one or all of the things listed on this “2017 End of Summer Bucket List” and have a wonderful closing to summer!

 

Deep Cut Gardens (152 Red Hill Road, Middletown, NJ): Spend the day and bring a picnic Summerlunch/dinner! One Trip Advisor wrote, “Deep Cut Gardens is a treasure and worth going out of the way to visit. Situated on land once owned by crime boss Vito Genovese and only minutes from the Parkway!” Enjoy 52 acres of gardens and greenhouses in this “living catalog of cultivated and native plant materials to be observed throughout the seasons.” You will literally be in awe as you walk through lily ponds, “umbrellas” of hemlocks, meadow walks, natural ponds, rose & boxwood mazes, Japanese gardens, and bonsais! These are just some of the magnificent natural scenes you will experience on this adventure! Oh – and bring some of your painted rocks to hide along the trails – it’s a big deal at these gardens to find hidden rocks! Open 8 a.m. till dusk year-round, FREE admission, FREE parking. Website: Deep Cut Gardens Website

 

South Mountain Fairy Trail (Entrance at Locust Grove picnic area across from Millburn Public Library – GPS location is 197 Glen Avenue, Millburn): The whimsical world of fairies Summerhas taken the country by storm – and it’s not just for girls and small children. Creating “magical worlds” out of natural materials found in the woods and adding a little swing or front door for decoration is enjoyed by all ages! This trail of fairy homes at the beginning of the Rahway Trail of the South Mountain Reservation was created by a special education teacher and mother who began setting up tiny homes at the bases of trees. As the trail became more popular, children and adults come to bring their own materials to set up an individual fairy home to add to the village. You can walk the entire Rahway River Loop (2 ¼ miles) and take in breathtaking sights like the Hemlock Falls and Maple Falls Cascades. You may also choose to take the short cut back to the parking lot! Be prepared to feel a bit of wonderment as you step into the magical forest! Open year-round, parking outside of Rahway Trail area

 

SummerSwan Paddle Boats and the Regatta Playground (Cherry Lane, West Orange): The entire “Waterfront” at the South Mountain Recreation Complex is new and beautiful! You can enjoy hiking/walking along the 1.7-mile reservoir walking path, picnicking, paddle boating, playing, and taking in the breathtaking water scenes! The Regatta Playground is a vast, nautical-themed play space and has plenty for active younger and older children to enjoy. The entire park is on synthetic grass and rubber safety surface. The playground has a path that leads to the Clipper Pavilion picnic spot. The Swan Paddle Boat launch is located at the shore of the Orange Reservoir and your family (children over 2 years) will delight in paddling around in a swan! Free parking at Oakdale Parking Lot on Cherry Lane. Playground open year-round. Paddle Boats Mon-Fri 12-8 p.m. and Sat-Sun 10a.m. – 8 p.m. Paddle boat rides start at $15 for a 2-person boat.

 

Silverball Pinball Museum Arcade (100 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park): You also don’t have to Summerbe a kid to enjoy an entire museum dedicated to the “living, breathing, blinking tribute to our pinball and video gaming past”! Asbury Park has a ton to offer in terms of restaurants and the beach scene – so you have to stop here on your way back to town. There are 600 games in rotation! Visit their website at http://silverballmuseum.com/asbury-park/ to see the details on pricing, but $12.50 gets you in for one hour! There are no coins – it’s free play with your entry pass. The museum also boasts a café full of your favorite boardwalk eats such as the Jersey Shore Fry Co. and Cluck U Chicken! Spend the day! Open Sun-Thurs 10 a.m. – midnight and Fri-Sat 10 a.m. – 1 a.m.

 

Holsten’s Brookdale Confectionary (1063 Broad Street, Bloomfield): One of the oldest ice Summercream shops in New Jersey and just celebrating its 75th Anniversary, Holsten’s is a must-see spot as it takes you back in time to the way ice cream shoppes used to be experienced! Customers will revel in the old-fashioned atmosphere and “take a step back in time”. It was even a hot spot on the hit series, Sopranos! You can find a vast assortment of homemade ice cream flavors such as the popular Butter Pecan, Maple Walnut, Rum Raisin, and Orange Sherbet. Their menu features ice cream sodas, sundaes, and grill favorites such as burgers, hotdogs, and even breakfast! The candy counter is also a hit – eager patrons can purchase homemade chocolates and candies! Open Mon-Sat 11 a.m. – 11:30 pm and Sun 12 – 10 p.m. Website: http://holstens.com/

 

Shore Fresh Seafood Market and Restaurant (57 Channel Drive, Point Pleasant): You have Summerto visit their beachfront location for the “Best Lobster Roll of the Jersey Shore”. Hailed by hundreds on Yelp reviews – customers from all over the eastern seaboard flock to this site for “overflowing” and delicious lobster for under $12! Celebrating 15 years at the shore, Shore Fresh is located on a fisherman’s co-op – “one of the few remaining in NJ!” Thirteen fishermen return each day with fresh catches and the market serves them right to you from their icy storefront fish case. You know exactly where your dinner originated! They have a shore-eclectic indoor theme and a beautiful outdoor view. It’s “simple, fresh, genuine seafood” all year round and BYOB! Open Sun-Thurs 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Fri-Sat 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. Website: http://www.shorefreshseafood.com/

 

Cranford Canoe Club (250 Springfield Avenue, Cranford): I could put this day adventure in Summerevery year! Before the club cuts back on its hours – you HAVE to visit in the summer and the fall! You will experience the town and the Rahway River in a whole new light! It’s a truly surreal experience whether you are by yourself, a loved one, or with your family! Children are definitely welcome and safe. The Canoe Club supplies life vests and paddles. Starting at $25 you can take a kayak or canoe for 2 hours on the river – going up and down the secret passageways of Cranford! The views are breathtaking all year round but especially during the height of the foliage colors! Open Mon-Fri 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sat-Sun 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Bring a Driver’s License! Website :http://www.cranfordcanoeclub.com/

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Back 2 School

Patricia Perry Salon: A Westfield Experience Dedicated to Curls, Color, and Community!

Patricia PerryI know there are a million NJ hair salons to choose from– so why did I decide to pick the Patricia Perry Salon in Westfield (www.patriciaperrysalon.com)to write about this week? My friend told me about her positive experience at the salon – from the gleaming chandeliers, to the sweet woman who shampooed her hair, the first-class service, and finally how amazing her hair felt and looked! The more I learned about Patricia, her ideals, and what the salon means to her – I had to write this article!

 

Patricia was born in Portugal and came to the United States when she was four years old. She has been in the salon industry since she was 14 years old!! She started shampooing at a friend’s home and has been working in salons in Union County from 19 years old until the present! In fact, Patricia loves the “hair business” so much that she even quit law school for it! She decided to give the salon industry 100% of her devotion and dedicate her career to curls, color, and health conscience hair products! Oh – and don’t forget the community – she and her husband love to give back to the community that’s supported them through this crazy ride!

That’s right – this is a family business which is what I love about our community! Matthew and Patricia Perry met, married, and started this salon business together! They have two beautiful children, Jacob and Emma, and live in Clark, NJ. They opened Patricia Perry Salon in April 2015. She grew her extensive clientele in Union County salons and then came to a point in her career where they wanted to open their own salon and “do things the way we want to do it!” Matthew and Patricia went into this business as a total partnership. Patricia devotes her days to styling, the salon, and education – while Matthew handles the paperwork and marketing. You’ll always find him at the front desk so make sure to say “hi” next time you visit!

 

She decided to make it her mission to conquer CURLS! As she worked in the salons she noticed the curly-haired clients left with wet hair and tons of product while the other women left with a gorgeous blowout. She wanted every client to feel like they left the salon with a “finished product” and equally as beautiful. She made curls her “niche” and her main focus for Patricia Perry Salon. Did you know that 80% of the population has some sort of curl/texture to their hair? Patricia wants women to “fall in love with your hair all over again!” She says, “Love who you are – embrace your curls!”

 

Patricia PerryPatricia has been deemed a “Deva Curl Ambassador” – meaning she has done extensive education on her own and at the Deva Curl Deva Academy in the field of DevaCut, No Poo Transformation Service, and Pintura Highlighting. DevaCurl is a company devoted to curly hair products and stylist education of curl management. Everything you need to know is on their website here www.devacurl.com. Patricia is a “DevaStylist” and other stylists come to her salon to learn how to cut and style curly hair. All the stylists at Patricia Perry Salon are educated on curls and can formulate and prescribe styling regime for each person – it’s very individualized.

 

No harsh chemicals will ever be found at Patricia Perry Salon – even their keratin treatments are formaldehyde-free! “We are extremely environmentally and health conscience about the hair care products we use and sell and we stand behind them 100%. The salon specializes in boutique hair color. They use the “top of the line” Goldwell products (www.goldwell.us)– the standard for luxury hair color. Goldwell, founded in 1948 is “the most intelligent and caring system for creating and maintaining vibrant healthy hair color.”

 

Patricia PerryWhen you walk into the salon you will see a display case of the most beautifully labeled and packaged hair care products. They sell Davines ( www.davines.com) , a family company started in 1966 in Parma, Italy, and the leader in eco-friendly products. Davines is “farm-to-table “hair care. Earlier this year, Davines partnered with the Slow Food Foundation– “a global nonprofit that preserves food and agricultural biodiversity by connecting local farmers with alternative markets- to launch the next generation Essential Haircare. The concept is truly unprecedented. The line is comprised of nine product families. Each contains one specific active ingredient from a Slow Food farm in Italy and the name, face and story of the farmer who grows it with care and passion.”

 

Patricia Perry Salon wants to give you the whole package when you walk in their door. From going back to get your shampoo, to the styling experience, to walking out the door with your fresh, new look. You will be offered your choice of mimosas, wine, champagne, coffee, tea, or infused water! “It’s all about customer service. We stand behind everything we do. We know there are so many salons to choose from – we feel we are bringing something different to the table!”

 

Back 2 School

The salon also has an awesome “Back to School Drive” scheduled for Wednesday, August 30 –  between 10 am and 7 pm bring in a new lunchbox and your child will receive a free haircut! All proceeds benefit the YWCA of Union County. Please call the salon in advance to make an appointment for that day! “The community has completely embraced us and we want to continually give back to them!”

 

 

Trust me, I’m not trying to change anyone’s loyalty to their NJ local hair salon – but if you are looking for a new salon to experience or you haven’t had the best “curl” treatment – why not stop in? Every stylist at this salon is amazing and a true artist! You won’t be disappointed!

302 South Avenue East, Westfield, NJ 07090

 908-301-1001
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Fireworks

Fireworks, Food, and Fun: The Guide to Everything 4th of July 2017

Whether you are new to town or simply want a change of venue for your Independence Day festivities – I have the lowdown on all the fun events happening in the Cranford/Westfield area!Westfield NJ 4th of July 2012

CRANFORD: 

What a  4th of July celebration! The town comes together for a family-friendly events that take place over the course of the entire day! 

7:30 amRegister for the Canoe Race at the Cranford Canoe Club (250 Springfield Avenue, Cranford). Trophies awarded to a winner in each category

Canoe races8:00 am: Canoe Races begin – it’s exciting to watch the teams go down Cranford’s part of the Rahway River – you don’t want to miss this!

Firecracker 4 milerCranford Jaycees 38th Annual Firecracker Run 4-miler and Fun Run: hailed “the Premiere 4th of July Road Race” – not only in NJ but throughout the region! This is the Cranford Jaycees’ largest fundraiser of the year with proceeds going to their Jaycees Scholarship Fund for high school seniors. It’s pretty impressive to view over 1,300 runners from all over NJ and even the country kick off the 4th of July festivities. For more information go to the Cranford Jaycees website.

All events take place within Nomehegan Park (1024 Springfield Avenue, Cranford).  Cranford and nearby residents are encouraged to walk to all activities! However, there is limited parking at Union County College (1033 Springfield Avenue, Cranford). 

Kids8:30 amThe Firecracker Fun-Run begins – sponsored by Dave Weichert Magical Travel

9:00 amThe Firecracker 4-miler race begins – sponsored by Investors Bank. Last minute desire to put those sneakers on? You can still register at the race site – cost is $32

1:30 pmBike Decorating Contest at Nomehegan. Who can make their bike be red, white, & blue all over? Winners in each category awarded prizes!

2:00 pm: Let the games begin! Raffles, prizes, live music, amusement rides, food and drink vendors, face painting, and family-friendly games go on all day until 10:00 pm!!

9:15 pm: Time for Fireworks! (RAIN DATE July 5) For further information please call the Cranford Recreation Department at 908-709-7283

WESTFIELD: 

If you are a music lover then you are going to love what the 4th has to offer in Westfield!

21st Annual Sweet Sounds Downtown Jazz Festival: this FREE festival kicks off on July 4and runs until August 29th.  Every Tuesday evening from 7-9pm, 5 bands ranging from contemporary, jazz, and big band will perform. This is a perfect way to get the family outdoors and enjoy the shopping and al fresco dining that Westfield has to offer. It’s so delightful take an evening stroll and hear live music around every corner! Visit Westfield Today’s website for a full schedule and more information. 

The locations are:

  • Central Avenue in front of Banana Republic
  • Lawn in front of the North Avenue Train Station
  • Plaza at the corner of East Broad and North Avenue, 
  • Elm Street in front of the Baptist Church
  • Foundation Park across the street from Gallery U Boutique at 439 South Ave. W.(near the corner of South Ave W. and Westfield Ave.)

Westfield NJ Mindowaskin Park

Westfield Community Concert Band: a special Independence Day FREE concert Thursday, July 6 at 7:30 pm in Mindowaskin Park at East Broad Street in Westfield, NJ. The Westfield Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution and the Westfield Town Crier will be performing at this tribute event.

CLARK:

FlagsJuly 4 at 7:00 pm will be all the festivities at Arthur L. Johnson High School on Westfield Avenue. There will be live entertainment by a DJ, food vendors, ice cream, and local merchant vendors.  Fireworks start at dusk – around 9:15 pm.

FANWOOD/SCOTCH PLAINS:

Saturday, July 1 will be the 2nd Annual Independence Day Festival for Scotch Plains. This will take place at the Scotch Hills Golf Course at 820 Jerusalem Road in Scotch Plains. Everyone may enter the area at 7pm.  Fireworks will begin at dusk.  Rain date is July 2.

ELIZABETH:

July 4 will be the annual fireworks at dusk at the Veterans Memorial Waterfront Park on Front Street and Elizabeth Avenue. 

KENILWORTH:

Sunday, July 2nd will be this town’s celebration.  At 5:30, a parade will commence at St. Theresa’s parking lot, head down South 24th Street to Washington Avenue and end at Harding School. Once at Harding there will be live music, face painting, food vendors, and rides. These activities will continue until dusk when the fireworks begin at David Brearley High School on Monroe Avenue. 

ROSELLE PARK:

FireworksSaturday, July 1 festivities start at 6:00 pm and go until 10:00pm at Roselle High School at the Green Acres Complex

6-8:30pm: FREE carnival, games & activities 

7pm: Live music by Brian Clayton and the Green River Band

Dusk: Fireworks begin!  (Rain date Tues, August 1 – National Night Out)

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kids-summer-camp-clipart-SummerCamp

Last-Minute Summer Camp Ideas in the Cranford/Westfield Area

Some parents plan ahead when it comes to summer camp. I knew one mother who kept a spreadsheet detailing the various camps that her children would be attending! But for those of us procrastinators: this list is for you! Here are some fun camps in Cranford and Westfield that still have openings. This list is by no means exhaustive, so feel free to share if you know of a great local camp that has availability this summer! And although I didn’t include them here, there are still many openings for camps at the Westfield Area YMCA and through the Westfield and Cranford Recreation Departments. Here’s to a happy summer for the kiddos!
Camp: Camp Invention
Location: Orange Avenue School, Cranford
Description: hands-on STEM type activities
Date(s): July 10-14, July 17-21st (camp goes from 8:30-2:45 daily)
Ages: entering grades K-6
Cost: $250 per week
 
 
Cesar-KaiCamp: Cesar Kai Academy
Location: Wanut Ave, Cranford
Description: martial arts, games, crafts, outdoor play, field trips (no uniform required)
Date(s): July 17-Sept.1 (half and full-day options)
Ages: 6+
Cost: Half day = $149 per week; Full day = $249 per week; One-day = $55; snack included
 
ColoCamp: Color Chips
Location: United Methodist Church, Cranford
Description: art and craft camp with art show at camp’s end
Date(s): July 10-Aug.17 (9:30am-12:30pm, M-Th)
Ages: Enterting grades K-5; Entering grades 6-10
Cost: $175 per week; sibling discount
Fire Me Up!
Camp: Fire Me Up
Location: Downtown Cranford
Description: various pottery, craft, and painting camps
Date(s): June 26- Aug.24 (1-4:30pm)
Ages: 6-10+ depending on camp
Cost: starts at $249 per weekly camp; snack included
Camp: Hoops There It Is
Location: Cranford Community Center
Description: coed basketball fun, games, and skill-building
Date(s): Aug. 14-28 (9am-3pm; early drop-off available for additional fee)
Ages: 5 through high school
Cost: $235 per week; can purchase lunch for additional fee
Camp: Jump Immersion School
Location: South Ave, Westfield
Description: immersive language learning (Spanish or Mandarin); crafts, games; outdoor play; theater
Date(s): June 26-August 18 (9am-3pm; before and after care available for additional fee)
Ages: 3-7
Cost: $145-$305 per week depending on how many days per week you choose (2-week minimum); sibling discount
Camp: AR Workshop
Location: North Ave, Westfield
Description: a unique DIY craft project each day
Date(s): June 26-29 (9am-12pm)
Ages: 8-14
Cost: $40 per day ($20 gift certificate towards future workshop if you book all 4 days)
Camp: Just Bead Yourself
Location: Downtown Westfield
Description: beading and craft activities
Date(s): June 21-August 31 (half and full-day options)
Ages: 6-17 (age ranges vary per camp)
Cost: varies per camp
 
Camp: St. Paul’s Day School
Location: E. Broad St., Westfield
Description: Weekly themes, playground fun, crafts, water play, and more
Date(s): now through July 14
Ages: 2-6 (must have completed a 2’s program to enter; cutoff is having completed kindergarten)
Cost: $285 per week
Urban Sewciety
Camp: Urban Sewciety
Location: South Ave, Westfield
Description: Weekly themed sewing projects and a Teen Fashion Design Camp
Date(s): June 26- Sept 11 (younger) and August 7-11 (teen)
Ages: 7 and up and 12 and up (if no prior sewing experience must have completed a Beginners Workshop to enter)
Cost: $250 per week (materials included)
 
Camp: Valencia School of Music
Location: Elm Street, Westfield
Description: Intro to Music Performance; Rock and Roll School; Godspell theater
Date(s): July 10-14; July 17-21; July 31-Aug. 25 (
Ages: 6-10; age 10+ depending on camp
Cost: varies per camp
 
Camp: Westfield Indoor Tennis
Location: Grove Street, Westfield
Description: tennis fun and skill-building
Date(s): June 26-Aug. 18 (half and full-day options)
Ages: 4-17
Cost: mornings 9-12 = $365 per week; afternoons 1-3:30 = $305 per week; full day 9-3:30 = $630 per week
Camp: Winning Writing Academy
Location: Westfield
Description: writing and reading proficiency, games and activities
Date(s): July 31-Aug. 4 (morning and afternoon sessions)
Ages: Entering grades 3-9
Cost: Each half-day camp is $249 for the week; save 20% when you sign up for both morning and afternoon sessions.

 

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Have a wonderful and fun summer!!

 

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Say Bye-Bye to Mosquitoes and Ticks!

We’re well into spring, the flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and it SHOULD be a wonderful time to get some fresh air! But two things can majorly get in the way of enjoying the great outdoors: TICKS and MOSQUITOES. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to enjoy my patio without having to worry incessantly about either of those pests!

 

With the large population of deer combined with the rivers and ponds in our area, it’s an unfortunate truth that we have to deal with ticks and mosquitoes. The threat of Lyme disease makes ticks particularly worrisome, and their tiny size means that many bites go unnoticed. As for mosquitoes: not only do their bites itch like crazy (and they just loooove biting some people more than others–you know who you are!), they also carry dangerous diseases and can cause secondary infections.

Last Bite MosquitoIn recent years I’d heard glowing reviews of businesses that will treat your yard periodically to ward off ticks and mosquitoes. One friend said it was “life changing,” now that her family was able to enjoy pest-free backyard living after suffering endless mosquito bites in years past. It almost sounded too good to be true. I caught up with the co-owner of Last Bite Mosquito Control to discuss these services and see what all the fuss is about. 

Last Bite is based out of Monmouth County but services all of Union County. They are members of the Westfield Chamber of Commerce and will soon be opening an office in town. Twin brothers and physical education teachers Jason and Jeremy Julio launched the company in 2013, after Jeremy’s son had contracted a staph infection from an infected mosquito bite (scary!). They thoroughly researched mosquito and tick prevention, got licensed, and their family company has grown exponentially ever since. 

When it comes to preventing mosquitoes in your own backyard, home remedies just don’t cut it. Jason said, “Mosquitoes can breed in something as small as a bottlecap.” So even if you get rid of a couple of mosquitoes here and there, it takes an expert to locate and treat the breeding areas of mosquitoes. 

The treatment process is described as follows on Last Bite’s website: 

Last Bite Mosquito Control has highly trained and licensed technicians that will survey your yard and identify any high risk areas that could be used as mosquito breeding grounds.  A fine mist of our Barrier Spray (derived from the chrysanthemum plant) will be applied to the perimeter of your home. cThe treatment will include trees, shrubs, evergreens, flowers, foliage plants and all landscaping within the treatment area. Larvicide will then be placed to all mosquito breeding grounds at no additional charge. Our Barrier Spray treatment kills mosquitoes and ticks on contact and continues to provide protection for up to 21 days. All products we use are EPA approved.

You and your pets can use your yard as soon as 30 minutes after it’s been treated by Last Bite! They offer a package where they will come spray every 21 days from spring through fall; a pay-as-you go plan; or or you can purchase a one-time spray, which could be a life-saver for a backyard party you might be hosting. Jason said, “We encourage our customers to have open communication with us to let us know if there’s ever a problem, and we will always come back to your property. Our treatments are 100 percent guaranteed.” 

I’m looking forward to getting my yard treated by Last Bite this month so I can put my feet up on the patio and relax without having to swat myself every five minutes! 

For more information about Last Bite call 866-742-4887 or visit http://www.lastbitemosquito.com

Stop by Last Bite’s booth at Westfield’s Spring Fling on May 7th and tell them Sharon says hello! 

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Check Out Kidoolo….A GREAT New Kid’s Party Place in Springfield!

A Party Place Like No Other!

kidoolo

There’s a new PARTY PLACE in Springfield, and it’s just what the doctor–okay, the kids–ordered! I had my assistant Christine check out the space with her two children ages 7 and 6, since mine are a wee bit too old for this spot, and her kids are already begging to go back!

Kidoolo (pronounced KID-uh-loo) opened on Route 22 in Springfield this past fall. Owned by husband-and-wife team Trish Stephens and Marc Turner of Westfield, Kidoolo doesn’t look like any other party place in our area. You won’t be accosted by crazy, swirly, brightly colored patterns on the walls and carpets when you enter. The interior design of Kidoolo is sleek and modern, clean as a whistle, and actually pleasant for parents to look at. Christine said, “I found myself asking where they got the cool leather benches for parents to sit on!”

There is a main sitting area for parents, with an adjacent “bar” where you can order light snacks and beverages. When Christine and her family were visiting, they were offered free ice water, which was a nice touch. Off the main lobby are our different play areas:

  • A climbing structure and toys.
  • An interactive dance floor area (not a separate room) featuring games projected onto the floor and a twinkling disco ball above.
  • A state-of-the-art laser tag arena, styled to look like New York City.
  • A video game room with 8 flat-screen TVs, various game consoles with tons of games, and bench seating, similar to the interior of a Game Truck.

Kidoolo was Trish’s vision, after receiving her MBA and working for 20 years in business and marketing for such companies as Nickelodeon. Trish said, “I  saw a void in the market when I was s earching for great kids’ play venues that provided awesome parties that weren’t overly crowded and were a little swanky . Also based on families hectic schedules, I wanted to offer exceptional services that made party planning stress free and extremely easy.”

 

Christine’s kids were able to play in all but the video game room, which wasn’t operating at that time. Christine said, “My kids actually did play on the climbing structure for a few minutes, but I would definitely say it’s best suited for children under age six. It’s a great spot for younger siblings to play while older siblings enjoy the other play areas.” 

She went on, “The dance floor was a lot of fun for my kids–they’ve seen this at other indoor play areas, but this one was actually working correctly, whereas similar floors at other locales seem not to work as well. They even played a successful faux soccer game!”

Kidoolo According to Christine, laser tag was the biggest hit with her family. “We were ALL dripping sweat and cracking up by the end of it; we had the best time doing it together as a family. The room is very dark, lighted by black lights, with lots of New York landmarks and buildings to hid behind, and it looks really snazzy. Music and sound effects blast through while you’re playing. All of our laser guns worked perfectly, which I imagine could be a concern. My daughter was a little scared at first because of the darkness and the loudness, and the manager was kind enough to turn the sound down for us! Each laser tag game lasts 8 minutes. You can purchase just one game, or an hour of games, which is what we did.” 

With a private party room on site and various all-inclusive theme party packages, Kidoolo seems like a terrific choice for any kid’s birthday celebration. A great way to check out the facilities before you book a party is to bring your kids for open play or open laser tag. Open Play (which only includes the climbing structure and dance floor) is held Tuesday through Thursday from 10am-4pm, Fridays from 10am-8-m, and Saturdays during select hours as listed the Kidoolo Facebook page (@Kidoolo). Laser Tag is available Friday evenings and select Saturday hours as listed on Facebook. 

Look out for a GRAND OPENING event on Saturday, January 28 from 12:30-3pm! 

For more information about Kidoolo, visit their website at http://www.kidooloplay.com.

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Santa Claus Is Coming to Town!! (Cranford and Westfield)

santa-kidsYou better watch out, you better not cry … oh who am I kidding, any sane child will cry in the face of a stranger dressed up as Santa Claus! But we love subjecting our children to it nonetheless! Here’s a list of places in the Cranford-Westfield Area where Jolly Old Saint Nick will make an appearance to delight (i.e., scare the bejeezus out of) your little ones. 

NOVEMBER 25, 6:00pm

Gazebo at corner of North Union and Springfield Ave, Cranford

Santa lights the tree; photos with Santa immediately after, $3 per child.

NOVEMBER 25-­27

Lord & Taylor, 609 North Ave. W., Westfield

Friday & Saturday 1-7pm, Sunday 1-4pm

Free 5″ x 7″ photo with donation of 2 cans of non­-perishable food for the Holy Trinity Westfield Food Pantry. Nominal shipping fee will apply. Additional photos can be purchased.

NOVEMBER 26, 12-4pm

Tiffany Pharmacy, 1115 South Ave W., Westfield

Visit with Santa, enjoy free hot chocolate and cookies, and receive 25% off gift department purchases while you’re there! Visiting with Santa is free, but you can purchase photo packages if you’d like. 

NOVEMBER 27, 3:30pm

Fire Me Up Studio, 117 N. Union Ave, Cranford

Make plates and decorate cookies with Santa! $45 per child (accompanying non-painting adult free). Purchase tickets at: https://placefull.com/santa-s-coming-to-fire-me-up–studio

NOVEMBER 27, 5:30pm

North Ave. W. Train Station, Westfield

Annual Tree Lighting with Santa & Mrs. Claus. Free.

NOVEMBER 29, 4:30pm

Fire Me Up Studio, 117 N. Union Ave, Cranford

This is the second event where kids will make plates and decorate cookies with Santa! $45 per child (accompanying non-painting adult free). Purchase tickets at: https://placefull.com/santa-s-coming-to-fire-me-up–studio

DECEMBER 3, 8:30am

Trinity Episcopal Church, 119 Forest Ave, Cranford

Pancakes, bagels, cereal, muffins, munchkins, juice, coffee & tea will be available. Jewelry, Christmas wreaths & grave covers, photo with Santa, fabulous raffle baskets 50/50 for sale. Breakfast tickets $6.00.

DECEMBER 8, 5:30pm

Giggles, 103 Miln Street, Cranford

$40 first child, $35 each sibling, includes indoor play. Email [email protected] for tickets.

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The Cranford-Westfield Area Makes the Perfect Family Staycation!

 

If you didn’t get to travel anywhere for a vacation this summer, or if you already went somewhere but still have vacation days to take this month, why not enjoy a CHEAP and SUPER FUN STAYCATION before school starts up again? The Cranford-Westfield Area has so many great options for family fun (much of it FREE) … you truly don’t have to go far to have an amazing summer with your family!

Here is a list of just some of the fantastic outings you can take without even leaving Union County. If you know of other interesting places or events nearby, feel free to comment and share!

CARNIVALS & FESTIVALS

It ain’t summer without zeppoles, am I right?? Check out these festivals in our area.

Cranford Street Fair & Craft Show

August 21st, 11am – 5pm

Downtown Cranford

Over 200 food and craft vendors, plus kids’ attractions.

Kenilworth Fire Department Carnival 

August 15th-20th 

St. Theresa’s School

540 Washington Ave., Kenilworth

Hours: 

Old-fashioned fun including rides, food vendors, games, beer garden, money wheel, and pay-one-price wristband nights Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday!

https://m.facebook.com/KenilworthFireRescue/

St. Bartholomew Italian Festival 

2032 Westfield Ave., Scotch Plains

September 2nd-5th

Hours:

This beloved annual festival features exceptional live music nightly, games, Italian food, raffles, and more!

http://www.sbuitalianfestival.com/#2778

Cranford Canoe Club

 A Cranford family launches from the Cranford Canoe Club:


A Cranford family launches from the Cranford Canoe Club:CRANFORD CANOE CLUB

250 Springfield Ave., Cranford

Hours: 

Not just canoes but also kayaks are available for rent at the Canoe Club. Paddle your way through a scenic and very calm stretch of the Rahway River, and you’ll be reminded of why Cranford was once called “The Venice of New Jersey.” Life jackets are included with your rentals. The snack bar serves some seriously yummy ice cream and snacks as well. This should be on everyone’s summer bucket list!

http://www.cranfordcanoeclub.com/

 

A successful fishing day for these girls at Echo Lake Park:

A successful fishing day for these girls at Echo Lake Park:

ECHO LAKE PARK

Enter from Sprinfield Ave. in Westfield or Mountain Ave near Route 22 in Mountainside

You can spend a whole day at this gorgeous park by bringing fishing rods (the pond is well-stocked), renting paddle boats (only $10 for an hour!), visiting the shady playground, and enjoying a picnic (they have BBQ grills available, plus a full snack bar at the boathouse). And if you have a four-legged friend, bring Fido along to the great dog park at Echo Lake! 

Mesmerized by the placid Rahway River:

Mesmerized by the placid Rahway River:

LIBERTY HALL MUSEUM

1003 Morris Ave., Union

Hours: Monday – Sunday 10am to 4pm; closed Sundays 

This is such a fantastic option for a rainy or too-hot day! Liberty Hall is very kid-friendly and always has exhibits that appeal to the younger set. Check out the TOYS THROUGH TIME exhibit, where kids can actually play with toys from decades past! Plus there are frequent family-friendly events going on at the museum grounds. Call the museum to reserve a tour. Admission is $12 per adult, $8 per child age 3-17, FREE for children under 3. Call 908-527-0400.

http://kean.edu/libertyhall

The impressive beech tree that rises up through Trailside Nature Center:

The impressive beech tree that rises up through Trailside Nature Center:

OUTDOOR MOVIES

There’s just something about watching a flick under the stars! Some of these movie showings will feature food trucks and even free popcorn!

FanwoodTuesday August 16th, 8:30pm at LaGrande Park, showing “The Good Dinosaur.”

Scotch Plains: Fridays August 19th (“Up”) and 26th (“Zootopia”) at dusk on the Village Green.

SummitMonday August 22nd at dusk, 356 Broad Street, showing “Alvin and the Chipmunks.”

OUTDOOR MUSIC

I’m continually blown away by the talent of local musicians. BYO lawn chairs and blankets and listen to great music!

Clark: Summer Arts Festival, featuring yoga and live bands at Oak Ridge Park, Wednesdays August 17th and 24th, 6:30 pm. Rain cancels.

Rahway: Summer Concert series, Thursdays August 18th and 25th, 7:30 pm in front of Union County Performing Arts Center. Beer garden on site! If raining, concert is moved inside to the main stage.

Westfield: Sweet Sounds Downtown Jazz Festival, Tuesday nights through August 30th, 7 pm. Rain cancels.

REEVES-REED ARBORETUM

165 Hobart Ave., Summit

Hours: open from dawn till dusk 7 days a week

Admission is free, but donations are encouraged.

This is a hidden gem of Union County–13+ acres of lush gardens and woods, perfect for leisurely hikes and bird-watching. Once inhabited by the Lenni Lenape Native Americans, the arboretum is now listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places. Join a FREE TOUR of the grounds on Saturdays at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm from now until October. Kids will enjoy the DISCOVERY SATURDAYS on August 20thand 27th in the Stackhouse Education Center: drop in anytime from 9 am to 1 pmfor stories, games, crafts, and a mini exploration! Discovery Saturday events are free for members, $5 per non member child; children must be accompanied by an adult. 

Here are THREE different spraygrounds to choose from in our area, and all of them are FREE to visit. Heck, you could probably visit all three in a day! Generally, the sprayers turn on when temps reach 82 degrees.

Mesmerized by the placid Rahway River:

Mesmerized by the placid Rahway River:

Ponderosa Park

Cooper Road, Scotch Plains

Huge spray area and sprawling playground structures for all ages, restrooms, shaded picnic benches, and bike path. The ice-cream truck visits almost daily. Note: there is no shade in the playground area so bring hats and ample sunscreen and beware of hot playground equipment! Water shoes might be a good idea for the kids.

Snyder Ave Park

240 Snyder Ave., Berkeley Heights

Adorable fenced-in spray area adjacent to a cute playground, plus restrooms. Note: there is zero shade!

Warinanco Park

Entrance at St. George’s Ave in Roselle

Such a great park featuring a large, newer sprayground, plus two playgrounds and a pond with paddleboats (which you can rent for $10 per hour). 

The impressive beech tree that rises up through Trailside Nature Center:

The impressive beech tree that rises up through Trailside Nature Center:

TRAILSIDE NATURE CENTER

452 New Providence Road, Mountainside

Hours: Open 12-5pm, 7 days a week

With over 4,000 square feet of nature, history, and animal exhibits, Trailside is a great place to spend a rainy day with the kiddos! And in nice weather you can make a day of it by visiting the ginormous Watchung loop playground or taking a hike into Watchung Reservation.

http://www.ucnj.org/trailside/

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Foster The Dream Gala hosted by CASA of Union County

image1There are a few events in our area that combine a magical evening with fundraising for a truly worthy cause . . . and the Foster The Dream Gala hosted by CASA of Union County is one such event. The 3rd annual gala is slated for Friday, November 6 at the beautiful Galloping Hill Country Club in Kenilworth, and the cause it supports is one you might not be aware of.

There are currently 542 Union County children in foster care, and the goal of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is to have one advocate for every foster child, and to ensure a permanent, safe environment for every child.

According CASA’s Development and Marketing Coordinator, Gretchen Boger-O’Bryan: “Right now, we serve about 25 percent of the county’s foster children. We all must undergo an extensive training and then be sworn in by a judge, who issues a court order allowing the CASA to access the parties in the youth’s life to ensure their needs are being met. Amazingly, CASAs do this unique and challenging work on a volunteer basis. There really are some great hearts out there.”

Gretchen wears many hats for CASA; she also serves as one of six advocate supervisors who oversee a team of volunteer advocates, while continuing to act as a court advocate herself. Her career in legal journalism shifted course after she began volunteering with CASA years ago. She says: “Given the role adoption plays in my life every day – my daughter and husband were both adopted – advocating for children in need and making them whole again is certainly a top priority.”

The Foster The Dream Gala is the largest annual fundraiser for CASA of Union County. Attendees of the gala will enjoy a cocktail hour, live entertainment, dancing, open bar, and an elegant multi-course dinner. A live and silent auction will feature some highly coveted items, from event tickets to gift certificates to hotel stays and more. If that’s not enough, the evening will be capped off by FIREWORKS that guests can watch from the balcony overlooking the golf course!

To purchase tickets for the gala, visit https://casauc.ejoinme.org/fosterthedream2015tics. And for more information on CASA an the many ways to volunteer or support future CASA events, visit www.casaofunioncounty.org.

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