Category Archives: Neighborhood Events In NJ

Solar Eclipse

The Great American Solar Eclipse: How to Celebrate NJ Style!

Solar EclipseThe greatest astronomical event in decades is about the take over the United States on August 21 and the country is ready to celebrate! This momentous experience has been coined “The Great American Solar Eclipse” because of the total eclipse’s path spanning across 14 states starting with Lincoln Beach, Oregon at 9:05 am PDT and ending in Charleston, SC at 4:05 pm EDT. NASA’s official website on the eclipse is here: Americans are excited due to the fact this is the first coast-coast eclipse in 99 years – since 1918! The day will also be a memorable experience for all current adults and children. Are you ready for this event? Here is everything you need to know – from safety to solar party events!


A couple seconds after our fastest shutter speed exposure bracketing began, the slower shutter speeds reveal he extent of the sun's corona. The longer shutter speeds wash out the prominences erupting from the sun's surface.

A couple seconds after our fastest shutter speed exposure bracketing began, the slower shutter speeds reveal he extent of the sun’s corona. The longer shutter speeds wash out the prominences erupting from the sun’s surface.

According to NASA, the “moon passes between the earth and sun – totally obscuring the image of the sun”. Day becomes night for a few seconds! Will you see the stars? Scientists say “no”- but you may see Venus in the Western Sky – below and to the right of the sun. According to astronomers, this will be “the most photographed, most Instagrammed, most Tweeted eclipse ever!” Click here for NASA’s video of the path of the eclipse: The Path of the Eclipse



While New Jersey is not in the direct path of the eclipse, residents will definitely have a spectacular view! Our state will see a “partial” eclipse – about 70-75% of the sun will be covered. Here is the timeline of the day:

  • New Jersey will begin to experience a partial effect around 1:22 pm
  • The moon will gradually cover the sun until a maximum eclipse (75 percent sunlight blockage in the Garden State) occurs at 2:45 pm, lasting about two minutes.
  • The eclipse will be finished at 4 pm

Protect Your Eyes!

IMG_6176NASA warns eclipse watchers that homemade filters and sunglasses are NOT SAFE!! It is crucial that you and your family are wearing proper, certified solar viewing glasses and that they are held to your face with your hands (for children). All viewers in the Garden State need to wear their glasses for the ENTIRE event – especially prior to the maximum effect! Even a small amount of exposure is dangerous. There is never a safe time to look up at the sky when it’s only 70% blockage! Make sure your little ones are in constant supervision during the event and that they are never looking up at the sky without protective eyewear!


NASA recognizes 5 safe eclipse glasses that are “certified” – meaning that they meet international standards for safe solar view and they have the ISO Logo and letters CE (ISO 12312-2). These companies are Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optics, TSE 17, and Baader Planetarium. If you don’t have glasses, try to get them ASAP – most are sold out online! Do not buy from any street vendors and if it doesn’t have the logo, do not trust it! You cannot look at the eclipse through your smartphone or any unfiltered camera, telescope, or binoculars. Do not take pictures with your phone either! Your equipment must have a “solar neutral density filter” and you have to be wearing filters for your eyes. Here’s a guide to how to view the eclipse safely: Solar Eclipse Safety


Events in Town That You Won’t Want to Miss!


Cranford Public Library’s Solar Eclipse Viewing Party: If you are 7 years and older, head to the library for a science workshop about the eclipse starting at 11:00 am. Solar eclipse glasses will be handed out at this event. All families are welcome to join the library staff at Sherman Field down the street from 1:00 – 3:00 pm for the eclipse viewing. Bring blankets and chairs! Protective eyewear will be distributed while supplies last! Children must be with a caregiver.


Westfield Memorial Library: All are welcome to visit the library from 10:00 am till 3:00 pm to enjoy live streaming of NASA’s live videos of the eclipse!


Scotch Plains Public Library: Join them for a family friendly solar eclipse celebration at 11:00 am. The library will host crafts, activities, and themed treats. Come to make your own pinhole camera and free viewing glasses will be provided while supplies last!


Trailside Nature and Science Center: Head over from 12:00 – 3:00 pm for an eclipse viewing – weather permitting. Please bring your own solar eclipse glasses!


Elizabeth Public Library: Enjoy an eclipse viewing with presentations from a local astronomer (glasses provided) or choose to watch a live NASA Solar Eclipse video feed!


Other Events Throughout the State…


Robert J. Novins Planetarium at Ocean County College Math Campus, Toms River, NJ: Members of A.S.T.R.A. and planetarium staff will be present for FREE eclipse activities including solar telescopes for safe viewing!


Raritan Valley Community College, Branchburg, NJ: Head to their 3M Observatory to view the eclipse from 1-4 pm! Bring your own solar glasses!


Liberty Science Center: Soon to be “the largest planetarium in the U.S.” – events start at 10:00 am and conclude at 5:30 pm. There will be a STEM team to explain the science behind the eclipse as well as fun activities, lectures, telescope viewings, sun spotters, and live views from NASA! Enjoy a special 4:45 pm showing of the “Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon Laser Show”. Here is the event link: The Great American Eclipse at LSC


Newark Museum Dreyfuss Planetarium: Starting this Wednesday, August 16 through Friday, August 18 at 3:00 pm every day, enjoy the special presentation of “Eclipse: The Sun Revealed”. Recommended for children 8 and up, this video gives participants an up-close view of a total eclipse and explains the amazing science behind this natural phenomenon. Here is their awesome trailer: The Sun Revealed Trailer and the event website is listed here: Newark Museum The Sun Revealed Event


Other Ways to Enjoy the Eclipse-


NASA LIVE: Watch unprecedented images and live video of the eclipse from numerous spacecraft, the International Space Station, and from the Eclipse Ballooning Project (teams from universities fly balloons as high as 10,000 ft. and send back views through NASA TV). Click here to be directed to their website for all the live feeds: NASA Live Stream


Solar EclipseSo why such a big fuss over two minutes of the moon covering the sun? Is it worth it? I found a quote by Anthony Aveni, a retired professor of astronomy and astrology at Colgate that sums the excitement surrounding this total eclipse event: “Science has taken the myth out of the eclipse, but not the emotion.” August 21 promises to be a memorable and exciting day – let’s hope it’s a beautiful and cloudless day in New Jersey!

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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.


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:–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:–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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Some of Our Favorite Spots to Watch FOOTBALL!!

It’s FOOTBALL SEASON, folks! And sure, some of you might have fancy big-screen TVs and man-caves, but there’s something about watching the game in a bar, surrounded by other football fans, enjoying some friendly rivalry, drinking a freshly poured pint, and grazing on some buffalo wings while enjoying America’s favorite pastime! (And no, it’s not baseball–a recent study by Bloomberg concluded that football is the nation’s most popular sport now!) There’s no shortage of terrific bars and restaurants in the Cranford-Westfield Area . . . here’s our list of some great LOCAL BARS TO WATCH PRO FOOTBALL! 

1) STAGE HOUSE TAVERN, 366 Park Ave., Scotch Plains, NJ

Stage HouseGood luck finding a bar in our area that has more TVs or more food and drink specials during football–you won’t find it because Stage House has it all: TWENTY TVs with Sunday Ticket, happy hour pricing during games ($1 off any drink and discounted apps), a special $5 tailgate menu on Sundays featuring favorites like sausage & peppers and mac & cheese, $4 Blue Moons during Monday and Thursday games, and awesome RAFFLES with big giveaways every Sunday! Plus they have a huge outdoor patio bar with 5 TVs, so you can even enjoy the games al fresco on warmer days. 

Visit their website at: 

2) ECHO TAP & GRILLE, 1079 U.S. 22, Mountainside, NJ

Echo Tap & GrillThe newest establishment among our Top Five, Echo Tap knows the way to a football fanatic’s heart! Nine big-screen TVs with Sunday Ticket are located in both the bar area and dining area. The list of game-time specials is long: $3 pints of Coors, Blue Moon, Yeungling, and Bud Light (or $9 pitchers of the same beers), $2 ribs (each), $6.95 wings, $5.95 nachos, $6.95 pizza, and $5.95 egg rolls. And let’s not forget what a COOL atmosphere they have going on there, with the industrial-chic decor! 

Visit their website at:

3) CROKE PARK (in the basement of Molly Maguire’s), 1085 Central Ave., Clark, NJ


This is such a fun spot to catch the game, with 12 flat-screen TVs and 5 booths with personal little TVs–great for bringing the kids or even turning it into a romantic date! Specials include $3 domestic pints, $4 imported pints, and 75-cent wings. 

Visit their website at:

4) KILKENNY HOUSE, 112 South Ave. East, Cranford, NJ

Kilkenny HouseKilkenny’s just one of the friendliest bars around, where they remember their repeat customers by name and treat guests like family. Six big-screen TVs with Sunday Ticket are located at the bar, and “3” is the magic number for specials at the bar during football season: $3 domestic bottles or drafts on Sundays, $3 Millers on Mondays, the $3 Yuengling and Bud/Bud Light on Thursdays. Mondays are also 2-for-1 wings, so belly up the the bar! 

Visit their website at:

5) CRANFORD HOTEL, 1 South Union Ave, Cranford, NJ

Cranford HotelInside one of Cranford’s most iconic buildings is an awesome bar for watching football–make that two bars, since there’s one upstairs in the Hotel and another downstairs in The Cellar where you can watch every game! Some of the deals you’ll find during football are $3 Coors Light and Yuengling pints, $3 IPA cans, $9 pitchers (in The Cellar), and $5 menu items like pulled pork tacos and loaded chili fries (hello!!), not to mention some of the best buffalo wings around. Tell them I sent you–the Steele family is well known at the Hotel since our son worked there! 

Visit their website at:

Honorable Mention:

GARWOOD LANES, 346 North Ave, Garwood, NJ

Garwood LanesGarwood Lanes is no ordinary bowling alley–it has one of the best “dive” bars around with surprisingly great food, and thought they don’t have many TVs like the other bars in our Top Five, they do have a big-screen TV with Sunday Ticket at the bar. And their football specials are second to none: $2.50 domestic pints at the bar and COMPLIMENTARY SNACKS AT HALFTIME! Yep, free food. How could you not love this place?

Visit their website at:

There are plenty more options for great game-viewing in our area, like Bar Americana (Cranford), Thirsty Turtle (Cranford), Riverside Inn (Cranford), Rathskeller (Cranford), River and Rail Cantina (Cranford), Station Bar and Grill (Garwood), Darby Road (Scotch Plains), Publick House (Mountainside), and Grillestone (Mountainside), to name just a few. Where do YOU like to get your football on??

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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!


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


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

St. Bartholomew Italian Festival 

2032 Westfield Ave., Scotch Plains

September 2nd-5th


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

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


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!


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

A successful fishing day for these girls at 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:


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.

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

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


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.”


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.


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:


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.

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Cranford NJ VFW Ladies Auxiliary to Host Indoor Rummage Sale 6/8/14


Antique Sale

Love a good yard sale, but not battling the elements?  No one likes to haggle for a bargain in the blistering heat.  Or maybe you’d like to have a yard sale of your own, and relish the idea of purging, but not so much the set-up and work that goes along with it.

There’s a solution for shoppers and sellers alike.

The Cranford VFW Ladies Auxiliary will be holding an Indoor Rummage Sale on Saturday, June 7th, an Sunday, June 8th, from 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Tables are still available for $30 apiece.  No uncomfortable heat-haggling here!  It will be held in the pleasantly air conditioned upstairs hall,  and is open to the public. Refreshments and snacks will also be available for purchase. Used clothing may also be dropped off at the above times for the Clothing by the pound fundraiser.

So now there’s no excuses – clean out those closets!  Purge that household!  Shop for that much-needed lamp or tablecloth!

For more information, contact Michelle O’Rourke at   (732)233-7640, or at  [email protected]


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Memorial Day Events in Cranford and Westfield NJ


photo 3Memorial Day is this Monday, and we’re fortunate to live in an area that truly celebrates our fallen heroes.  Our local townships do a great job of mixing good old-fashioned fun with meaningful remembrance.

In Cranford, the festivities begin at 9 a.m. Cranford NJ Memorial Daywith a jubilant parade that starts at the Community Center on Walnut Ave, continues through downtown Cranford, and ends with a traditional ceremony at Memorial Park on Springfield Ave near Riverside Drive. If you’ve never stuck around for the closing ceremony, make this the year you do. It’s quite moving to see and hear the honoring of those who lost their lives serving this country–and it’s a great way to teach your children the significance of the holiday. This year’s Grand Marshall is Captain Michael Carberry, who retired from the U.S. Army in 2009 having served 24 years as a captain. A tip from past parade-goers: if you have kids, make sure to bring a bag or bucket to catch all the candy that the Scouts toss to the parade crowds–it’s a lot more than you think! In case of inclement weather, there will be a ceremony only held at the Community Center at 10 am.



Memorial DayA hop, skip, and a jump away in Westfield is another celebration, beginning at 9 a.m. with opening ceremonies held at the World War I Monument at the intersection of North Ave and East Broad Street. A parade will march on from that point, led by Grand Marshall John “Chick” Miller, through downtown Westfield along East Broad and ending at Fairview Cemetery, with closing ceremonies hosted by the American Legion. After the parade, there will be a barbecue at the American Legion on North Ave in Westfield. In case of questionable weather, call 908-233-2767 for a status on the parade.

Let’s all enjoy this wonderful “kick off to Summer”, but let’s keep in mind the important holiday of remembrance that it is!

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NJ’s Turtle Back Zoo Holiday Lights Spectacular


It’s frigid out there.  Snow has been falling.  The Christmas commercials and songs are playing non-stop from every electronic device.  It’s a regular holiday hoot-nanny in all of the stores.    So, naturally, it’s the perfect time to head out for a stroll through the zoo.  

No, I haven’t finally snapped. It’s time for the annual Holiday Lights Spectacular at the Turtle Back Zoo.  Less than half an hour away, the zoo is a popular spot for families during the warmer months.  (I mean, who doesn’t love to pop their head up into those little domed tunnels at the prairie dog exhibit?)  But each year, during the holiday season, the Turtle Back Zoo transforms  into a spectacularly lit winter wonderland, with more than 100,000 bulbs and 40 lit displays to delight guests.

What’s that?  Cutting down on holiday outings to save money for those expensive Christmas gifts?  No worries!  From 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM, and running through New Year’s Day (excluding only Dec. 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 24th), admission is totally FREE!!!!    Nope – that is not a typo, my friends.  All they ask for is donations of non-perishable foods, winter coats, and UNWRAPPED, NEW toys for the needy.  It’s a way for you to be a light in someone’s life who really needs it, while you get to enjoy the lights and the beauty of the zoo’s display.

The event will feature illuminated figures of animals, holiday scenes, and stars, and many (although not all) of the regular exhibits at the zoo will also remain open.  The zoo’s director, Dr. Jeremy Goodman claims many of the animals are actually more active in the cold weather.  The kids (OK – the adults, too) can have their pictures taken with Frosty, a reindeer, and others who will be hanging around.  And you can get some quality, expense-free, beauty-surrounding time with the family this holiday season.

The zoo , located at 560 Northfield Avenue in West Orange, NJ, was threatened with closure in the mid-1990s,  and has come back with $20 million in new exhibits and upgrades — s part of the newly rebranded South Mountain Recreation Complex.  It is thriving and growing, and thankfully remains an important part of childhood memory-making for our area, just as it did for many of US s kids!  And this is the perfect way to make NEW memories, and set up a new holiday tradition for your family.    Visit  for more information.


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Westfield NJ Farmers Market Opens!


It doesn’t REALLY feel like summer until you can shop at the weekly Farmer’s Market!  Luckily, that moment is nearly upon us.

On Saturday, June 29th, the 2013 Westfield Farmer’s Market will be open for business!

The Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce (GWACC) has operated the Westfield Farmers Market each summer for the last 14 years, with great success.  The market is held Saturday mornings at the Westfield South Avenue train station (at 200 South Avenue W.), from 8:30 AM until 2:00 PM., and it will operate this year from June 29th until October 26th.

The market epitomizes the chamber’s “buy local” philosophy by being part of the “Jersey Fresh” program, which uses local, fresh produce from area farmers.  In addition to the vendors of years past, this year’s market will also include fresh lemonades, coffees, and even local vegan chocolates.  Participating farms include Donaldson, Peaceful Valley, and Skeba, as well as other local farmers who promise to bring dairy and meats.  Many of the vendors will be familiar from previous years, and local businesses and restaurants are always represented and supported.  You can expect fresh baked goods from the Lithuanian Bakery, gourmet oils and vinegars from Farmhouse Gourmet, and even entire prepared frozen meals from High Mountain Foods and Paolo’s Kitchen, just to name a few of the treats available.

Don’t be confused . . . . this year the market will be in a slightly different area of the farmer's marketparking lot – across from San Marzano’s and Pegasus Sports, at the intersection of Summit Avenue.   The hope is that this will make the market more visible from the street, and also encourage patrons of the market to also patronize a few of the nearby stores in the area.

Anyone interested in becoming a vendor for the Farmer’s market can contact Heather Robinson, Executive Director,  at [email protected] for more information.  And the rest of us can enjoy strolling around in the summer weather, reaping the benefits of local farmers and businesses, and doing some quality shopping right in the center of town!  Happy summer, indeed!


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Westfield, New Jersey’s Trader Joe’s Expansion

Westfield Trader Joe's ExpansionWhether you go for the unique assortment of cheeses and nuts, the unusual gourmet items, the healthy organic cereals, or the “3 Buck Chuck” Charles Shaw wine, there’s no denying that Trader Joe’s is an area icon.  The chain, which actually opened its first NJ store in Westfield a number of years ago, (which is one of only several stores that also serves wine and spirits), is known as much for “The Fearless Flyer,” its quirky periodic flyer of new and featured items, as it is for its unique, eclectic inventory.  (Check it out at .) Shopping in the Elm Street Westfield Trader Joe’s is a fun, healthy, different type of grocery shopping experience . . . . daunted only by the lack of space and limited parking.  Ah . . . . but that is all about to change!

According to store manager Sheila Cummings, shoppers can soon enjoy an enhanced shopping experience when the store DOUBLES in size by this summer. When next door neighbor “Wells Fargo Advisors” chose not to renew its lease this spring, Trader Joe’s decided to take over the space next door. And, thank the heavens above, 10 more spaces in the parking lot!.

Though Cummings said the date for opening the new section will depend on permits and project completion, she anticipates it will be at some point this summer. The store will continue its same hours, daily 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., during the expansion, and after the project is complete.

I don’t know about you, but I say this calls for a celebration.  Pour me a glass of 3 Buck Chuck, and spread some goat’s milk cheddar cheese on my organic corn chips . . . . I’m goin’ in!!!!

View Larger Map
Cross Streets: Between E Broad St and Orchard St


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The Cicadas Are Coming! The Cicadas Are Coming!

The Cicadas Are Coming!

People are losing their ever-loving minds over the most recent news-hyped threat to our area.  They are battening down the proverbial hatches, shifting their gaze nervously left and right as they walk from place to place, and threatening to move out of the area until the threat is over.  It’s akin to Y-2K and the Rapture threats.  Are YOU prepared for . . . . . . . THE CICADAS?!

Doesn’t it seem like just about EVERY year that the threat of the 17-year cicada emergence hits us?  There are many misconceptions about the cicadas.  The cicadas – which are NOT the same as  locusts – do NOT all live on the same time cycle.  They are actually “periodic cicadas,” and they do work on a 17 year span, and they ARE around every year, because not all cicadas are on the exact same calendar or cycle.  The “Brood X” cicadas (X being the Roman numeral 10, as each group is named/numbered) happen to be the largest brood, and are, in fact, due to emerge this year.  .  They are ugly.  They are creepy.  But give these little guys a break – they are for the most part, harmless, and they lead an incredibly boring life.  They dug underground as babies 17 years ago, and have been harmlessly nibbling on plant roots so slowly that they have caused no damage to the plants at all.  That been pretty much it for them these past two decades.  And now they FINALLY get the equivalent of a night out.  Their plan?  To find a mate, lay eggs, and drop dead.  That’s pretty much it.  They are not looking to devour your garden.  They are not looking to attack you or nest in your hair.  Their biggest crime is being ugly.  And noisy.  And, well, they are.

While underground, they are called “nymphs,” and they have no wings.  Those hideous, pre-historic looking shells or casings you often find attached to branches, houses, picnic tables, or virtually anything else outdoors, is what is left behind after they metamorphosize into the winged creatures we know after emerging from the ground.  Once they get their wings, they start that lovely chirping mating call.  Ironically, this sound, for many, is an integral part of the summer-feel experience.  They mate, and then the females get ready to lay their eggs.  They do this by burrowing small holes into trees – preferably new growth areas, presumably because that’s where the tree is softest.  This is where the minor damage to plants can occur.  They prefer fruit trees, or hardwood trees.  Apple, pear, dogwood, oak, and hickory are among the female locusts’ top dream homes for family building.  Ornamentals are in virtually no danger, so homeowners needn’t do a thing to protect them.  But the trees where eggs have been layed may very well show signs of dying smaller, outer branches by the end of June.  And here’s what homeowner’s need to know . . . . . it should NOT harm the overall tree.  Consider it . . . . nature’s pruning.  There is nothing you need to do to protect your yard.  The babies, when they hatch, will disappear underground for another 17 years.  And the only thing you will need to worry about is the potential above-ground graveyard of cicada bodies littering your property when the mating is all over.  These you WILL want to remove.  Mostly because the rotting little bodies will start to smell.  But also because . . . . well, yuck.  You sure aren’t going to want to send the kids outside barefoot to use that slip and slide, only to have it become more of a crunch and slide.

In the meantime, want some ideas of what to do with the cicadas while they’re here?  Check out this site, and Buon Apetite!


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