Category Archives: Union County

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

A Party Place Like No Other!


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

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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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Open House 8/28 1-4pm 5 Bedroom Westfield Colonial!

646 Fourth Ave Westfield

646 Fourth Ave Westfield


This beautiful 5-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath classic Westfield colonial (646 Fourth Ave) has all the charm and character of an older home combined with stylish updates and spacious additions for today’s buyer. The recently painted exterior oozes curb appeal, while a rocking-chair front porch welcomes you home. Inside you’ll find exquisite woodwork, from the gorgeous chestnut columns to the timeless hardwood floors with inlays. A large living room opens into the dining room with exposed beams. The bright kitchen has been updated with butcher block countertops and stainless steel appliances. Just off the kitchen is a cozy breakfast nook that opens onto a welcoming deck. The first floor continues with a fabulous expansion that includes a powder room, an expansive master suite (currently being used as family room) with gas fireplace and cedar-lined closet, and a gorgeous en suite full bathroom. This could easily become an in-law suite.
Four more bedrooms and a full bath are located on the second floor, and the huge walk-up attic offers limitless possibilities for expansion. The living space continues on the lower level with a massive recreation room featuring hardwood floors and high ceilings, which opens onto the picture-perfect patio and fully fenced yard with lush, level lawn. A generous mud room and an oversized unfinished storage and laundry area complete the lower level.

With its convenient location close to NYC transportation, downtown, and schools, this home has everything you’re looking for and is priced to sell at $609,000.


See the MLS information below:

We're sorry, but we couldn't find MLS # 3331369 in our database. This property may be a new listing or possibly taken off the market. Please check back again.

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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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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 And for more information on CASA an the many ways to volunteer or support future CASA events, visit

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A Birthday Wish Program to Benefit NJ Children in Foster Care

A Birthday WishDid you know there are more than 8,000 children in New Jersey who are living outside of a permanent, loving family. Many of these foster children never experience the simple joy of receiving a birthday gift. But one Westfield resident has made it her mission to put a smile on every foster child’s face through A Birthday Wish.

image2In 2014 Jane Hoffman partnered with CASA of Union County to found A Birthday Wish, an organization that gives children in foster care a birthday gift and card specially selected for them. According to Jane, “Fulfilling a special birthday wish says, ‘the day you were born is a day to celebrate, and we acknowledge the unique person that you are.’ It also builds trust. A child in foster care has experienced the betrayal of broken promises. Allowing a child to ask for something special and to have that wish granted is a small step in learning that you can trust people in your life.Through the money we raise and the wishes we grant, we are able to reach a child on their birthday with a message of hope, in celebration of their life.”

Jane has a long history of working in the nonprofit sector as a fundraising consultant, however she likes to get her hands dirty. “I find hands-on volunteering to be the most rewarding. For me, service to others in my local community is about connecting with people, hearing their stories and working together.”

In the past 10 months, A Birthday Wish has granted over 300 birthday wishes in New Jersey foster care, and every county in the state has expressed interest in the program! Kids who normally wouldn’t get so much as a “happy birthday” have received everything from shiny new bikes to Barbie dream houses and everything in between.

How can you get involved in making a foster child’s birthday wish come true? There are several ways:

  • Visit to select a wish! You can grant a wish in celebration of your birthday or the birthday of a family member or friend.
  • Get your children involved. Encourage your children to hold a lemonade stand or bake sale at school. With the money they raise they can pick the Birthday Wishes they want to grant!
  • Host a Wrapping Party. Is your book club, scout troop or service organization looking for a fun service project? Set the date, ask your guests to pick a birthday wish to grant and come together to wrap your gifts and make cards. A Birthday Wish will also provide you with other gifts that need to be wrapped that month!
  • No Gifts Please! Do your kids have enough stuff? Are you about to celebrate at milestone birthday? In lieu of gifts, ask friends and family to contribute any monetary amount in your honor of your special occasion. A Birthday Wish can help you set-up your personalized fundraising page. The best part? You get to pick the Birthday Wishes you want to grant!

And on Friday November 13, A Birthday Wish will celebrate its first anniversary at Crossroads in Garwood with a special night of Bruce Springsteen tunes by Asbury Fever! All proceeds from the fun evening will be used to grant Birthday Wishes of children in NJ foster care.

Isn’t it amazing how one person’s good idea can positively affect the lives of so many?

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Fireworks Celebrations in the Cranford/Westfield and Surrounding Areas

Westfield NJ 4th of July 2012

The Fourth of July just isn’t the same without fireworks.  If you’re Katie Perry, then you have your very own fireworks supply right there in your customized bra.  But, just in case you do NOT own pyrotechnic undergarments, here is a list of fireworks for the Fourth, as well as some other fun celebration ideas, in our area.  Pack up the family, with a blanket and whatever else you desire, and head out to one of these local celebration areas for some holiday fun!

CLARK – parade from Wilson Avenue through town to borough parking lot on Craig Place, July 4, 10 a.m.; DJ and vendors in front of town hall starting and fireworks at dusk over Arthur L. Johnson Regional High School, July 4, 7:30 p.m. Clark Municipal Building, 430 Westfield Ave., 732-388-3600.

CRANFORD  – canoe race at 8 a.m. followed by Firecracker 4-Mile Run at 9 a.m., music, face painting and other events in the park at 2 p.m., with fireworks at dusk, July 4. Nomahegan Park, Springfield Avenue., 908-709-7283.

ELIZABETH  fireworks beginning at dusk, July 4. Veterans Memorial Waterfront Park, Front Street and Elizabeth Avenue. 908-820-4222.

MOUNTAINSIDE – fireworks at dusk with free ice cream for children, sponsored by the borough, Mountainside PAL and Mountainside Fire Company, July 4, 9 p.m. Deerfield School, 302 Central Ave., 908-232-2400.

NEW PROVIDENCE  celebration on South Street from Gales Drive to Springfield Avenue with DJ, juggler show, sidewalk chalk drawing and fireworks, July 3, 7 p.m., 908-665-1400

PLAINFIELD – 92nd annual “Central Jersey July 4th Celebration” beginning with Veterans Parade on East Front Street and events in the park, concluding with fireworks, July 4, 10 a.m. Cedar Brook Park, Park Avenue and Pemberton Avenue., 877-424-1234.

SPRINGFIELD – music by 1910 Fruitgum Company and John Ford Coley, petting zoo, pony rides, trackless train, moonwalk, water slide, food and drinks, concluding with fireworks, July 4, 5 p.m. $5. Meisel Avenue Park, Meisel Avenue. 973-912-2200.

SUMMIT  flag-raising ceremony at 9:45 a.m. followed by children’s decorated bicycle parade, music by Polka Dot and the Kootz, rides, crafts, games, and 7:45 p.m. concert with the Cameos, concluding with fireworks display at 9:15 p.m, July 4. Soldiers Memorial Field, Ashland Road., 908-277-2932.

UNION – annual soap box derby 10 a.m. on Stuyvesant Avenue between Mountainview and Tyler avenues, concert by John Christian & Soiree at 7:30 p.m. at Biertuempfel Park, with music by Smooth followed by fireworks, July 4, 10 a.m. Biertuempfel Park, Winslow Avenue and Vauxhall Road., 908-686-4200.

WESTFIELD – Westfield Community Concert Band, contemporary and classical selections, overtures, Broadway tunes, popular music and traditional marches; bring lawn chairs and blankets, July 2, 7:30 p.m. Mindowaskin Park, East Broad Street and Park Drive., 908-789-4080.

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Mazzella’s of Mountainside NJ Offers an Array of YUMMY Food!

IMG_8903It’s the season for backyard entertaining, but don’t let all the party prep turn you into a party pooper! Forget slaving in the kitchen or standing over a hot grill while you’re forced to ignore your party guests. Instead, have your next party catered by Mazzella’s of Mountainside, the newest gourmet market in our area that has been garnering rave reviews.

Located at 846 Mountain Avenue (with plenty of free parking), Mazzella’s was opened in February of this year by brothers Gary and Stephen Mazzella. For the past 15 years they’ve run a successful Italian market in Jackson, and the Mountainside location is their second outpost. The bright and cheery store offers a wide selection of gourmet prepared foods; custom butchery and meats (sliced Boar’s Head deli meats, Bell & Evans, certified Angus, and homemade Italian sausage); cheeses (including homemade mozzarella); desserts; packaged goods; some fresh produce; and a great cup of coffee!

Mazzella’s offers hot and cold catering for parties as small as 8 up to large weddings and banquets. Wouldn’t a freshly made 6-foot-sub with all the fixings be perfect for your next summer party? They have a wide variety of homemade salads to go along with it, or you can go the hot route with entrees like baked ziti, pulled pork, baby back ribs, or one of their many vegetable entrees such as their “zucchini frittata,” which was a big hit at my friend’s Easter gathering.

You’ll be drooling over Mazzella’s selection prepared foods, such as their #1 bestselling honey mustard chicken, Peter Luger chicken, pasta bruschetta, and their signature prociutto breads–which are Italian meats stuffed into bread dough and shaped into a tempting loaf. During the holiday season Mazzella’s sells upwards of 500 loaves!

According to Gary Mazzella: “We pride ourselves on using the freshest ingredients and making everything from scratch–there are no short cuts at Mazzella’s.”

Visit their website for a good look at their menu and catering services:, or call 908-789-0505. Mazzella’s is open seven days a week.

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Union County Offers Free Child Safety Seat Inspections


You do all the right things as a parent.  You researched child safety seats before you purchased one.  You read through all of the instructions before installing it into your car.  You make sure your child is buckled in before taking off for anywhere.  So your child is perfectly safe, right?

Not necessarily.  Shockingly, it is estimated that 7 out of 10 children that ARE buckled into safety seats are actually NOT buckled in and secured properly or safely.  That’s right . . . . 7 out of 10!  So maybe it’s not so surprising that motor vehicle accidents are the #1 cause of death in children across the USA.  And we thought we were all parents of the year!  This is, clearly, NOT something to play around with.  Despite the fact that you may think you’ve done a great job installing and adjusting your child’s car seat, it is really important to let the experts make sure of this for you.

Union County is now offering a FREE Child Safety Seat Inspection Program in our area.  Parents, grandparents, babysitters, and, in fact, anyone who transports kids can make sure the child’s safety seat is properly installed by getting a free inspection.   The inspections are conducted at the Garwood First Aid Squad, at 401 Second Avenue, every Wednesday and Thursday, from 7:70 – 11:30 AM.  They are conducted by certified safety seat inspectors, who will gladly check out the seat and its installation for the safety of your child.

 For more information by following this link: The Union County Child Safety Seat Inspections  No appointments or reservations are necessary, so stop by as soon as you can to ensure your child’s safety in the car.

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One of Union County’s Most Beautiful Parks Is…

Echo Lake Park

Whether you’re a cyclist, a jogger, a fisherman (or woman!), a walker, a dog owner, a photographer, or an energetic child, there is something for EVERYONE at majestic Echo Lake Park. Nestled between Westfield and Mountainside, the park is accessible from Springfield and Mountain Avenues, and once you enter, you can spend hours here.

At Echo Lake Park you’ll find exactly what Echo Lake Parkthe park is named after–a large, gorgeous lake (divided into upper and lower ponds) hugged by picturesque, winding walking paths. A favorite photographic spot at the lake near the Springfield Ave entrance is the waterfall and recently refurbished waterwheel, both viewable from a lovely gazebo.

Echo Lake is a frequent stop for those who love to fish–the lower pond is regularly stocked Echo Lake Park with trout, and there are even handicapped-accessible fishing ledges. Anyone over the age of 16 requires a license to fish (you can purchase a license at Wal-Mart or Dick’s Sporting Goods in Union).

Close to the Mountain Ave entrance are the famous paddle boats. Did you know it costs only $10 an hour to rent a paddle boat? Burn some calories peddling and then treat yourself to something tasty at the snack bar, which offers ice cream, hot dogs, and snacks. Across from the snack bar is a great playground for the little ones that is chock full of slides and swings, as well as some picnic benches and grills.

At the center of Echo Lake Park is a wonderful dog park, almost three acres large with separate fenced areas designated for smaller and larger dogs. It’s a great way to socialize your dog and really let him stretch his legs, since four-legged friends can run off-leash in the dog park.

After having visited this park many times, I only just discovered its beautiful September 11th Memorial, which honors area residents who died on that tragic day. Two steel beams from the wreckage stand tall at the Memorial, along with a replica of Lady Liberty’s torch.

In the winter, bring the kids to Echo Lake for sledding! There is a huge hill that just screams out for a toboggan, and rumor has it the parks department places bales of hay at the bottom to ensure a safe landing.

There are well-kept ball fields at the park, and let’s not forget about the free summer Playgroundconcerts on the great lawn: this year’s concerts are slated for July 9, 16, 23, and 30. (For more information visit

Go alone or go with the family, but do go to Echo Lake sometime soon and enjoy the spoils of this perfect park.

Concession stand and pedal boat hours of operation: open April 1st to October 31st, weekdays 12-5 pm, weekends and holidays 11 am to 6 pm. There are restrooms throughout the park.


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