Tag 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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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: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/. 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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NNO

August 1, 2017: Out and About on National Night Out!

 

This national event keeps getting bigger and better each year! In this day and age – the communities and their police departments need to have a working relationship in order to keep the towns safe and maintain open communication. On August 1, 2017, the goal across the country is to “promote community interaction with the police and increase public awareness of police programs in the community.” Crime prevention is key! Cranford, Westfield, and surrounding towns have a great night planned for everyone. Head outside, walk to the downtown, and enjoy a night meant for families!

 

Cranford: (6-9 pm) Meet at the Patrolman Robert F. Hand Plaza and on front of the lawn of the Cranford Police Department Headquarters. Police/emergency vehicles and police motorcycles will be present for children to explore. Kids will be able to meet police and safety personnel and find out more about their professions. An annual NJ Blood Drive will also take place– residents should consider donating blood as there is a huge shortage in the state of NJ! Other fun events this evening will include a live DJ, face painting, animal performers, a rock wall, bungee run, and a demonstration from Hands of Life!

 

Westfield: (6-9 pm) Meet at the North Avenue Train Station area during the town’s Sweet Sounds Downtown Jazz Festival! Not only will you enjoy the outdoor music, but the Westfield Police and Fire Departments will be present with personnel to meet and vehicles to tour! Children will receive free hot dogs and soda! Other activities include a fingerprinting station, prizes, coloring station, and children 14 and up can register for the Police Explorer Program.

 

Clark: (6-9 pm) Meet in the parking lot of Arthur L. Johnson High School. Emergency responder vehicles will be present for children to explore as well as the opportunity to meet hired protectors of the town! Other activities include food & drink, safety vehicles, and fire/safety equipment demonstrations!

 

Fanwood: (7pm-dusk) Meet at LaGrande Park for an exciting evening with the local fire/police departments! Families will experience games, face painting, “Dunk a Cop”, a bounce house, food, police cars, and ambulances for touring!

 

Scotch Plains: (6-9 pm) Meet at Alan Augustine Village Green for fun demonstrations by police, fingerprinting, inflatables, rides, and music by the local band, The Broadcasters!

 

Union County: (6-10 pm) Meet at Meisel Avenue Park in Springfield, NJ. Children can explore emergency vehicles and participate in games, activities, and police/fire department demonstrations. The evening concludes with a showing of “The Secret Life of Pets” at dusk. Bring a blanket, some picnic food, and be ready to hang with the family all night!

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GaGa Pits

Cranford is Going Gaga Over GaGa Pits!

Gaga PitsAnyone know what these things are? I didn’t either – but I HAD to find out because one magically on a Sunday afternoon at Orange Avenue Pool! Adults were scratching their heads and kids were screaming with delight! You’re about to reach a new level of “cool” with the kids because I’m about to school you on the game of GaGa and how a community came together to give Cranford the hottest new pastime for children!

According to the GaGa Center, “GaGa is a fast paced, high energy sport played in an octagonal pit. The more players the better! Dubbed a kinder gentler version of dodge ball, the game is played with a soft foam ball, and combines the skills of dodging, striking, running, and jumping, while trying to hit opponents with a ball below the knees. Players need to keep moving to avoid getting hit by the ball. Fun and easy, everyone gets a serious workout.”

Remember dodge ball in gym? I believe that’s pretty much banned now so they had to reinvent the wheel! With GaGa, about 10 children enter the “pit” and have to avoid being hit by the foam ball. Last player standing, wins. Then it starts all over again. I hear it’s quite addicting! For reference or if you want to look “cool at the pool” – here are some “official” rules that I found online. Of course, our Cranford kids may make up their own “house rules”!  GaGa Official Rules

So how did the GaGa Pit come to Cranford? News travels, folks! The GaGa Pit was constructed Sunday, July 9 and I had the name and number of the “head honcho” within the hour. I called up local Cranford resident, Frank Klapinski to find out how this phenomenon came to be at Orange Avenue Pool.

The story that unfolded is the very reason I love our town. Someone comes up with an idea for the community and, with the power of the people and the kindness of their hearts, it just gets done! Frank and some other local fathers had been to a cub scout event at Camp Speers in Dingmans Ferry, PA. Everyone had a blast with this new GaGa Pit and they all thought, “We need to do this! We have to bring this to Cranford!”

Upon arrival to Cranford, a “team” was assembled and their feet hit the ground running. They scoured the internet and found their desired pit design. Around Memorial Day the team called and met with the Director of Cranford’s Recreation & Park’s Department, Steve Robertazzi. Everyone put their heads together to come up with the perfect spot for the pit. The old tether ball court in the back corner of Orange Avenue Pool seemed like the perfect spot for this new addition! The group continued to meet to develop the plan, fundraise, and construct their materials list.

When they say, “It takes a village” – it truly did in this case! All of the pressure-treated wood came from Home Depot. The fathers and their children met during two nights off and cut the wood and preassembled walls. The Orange Avenue Pool staff, DPW, and the GaGa team took out the preexisting asphalt court and prepped the area for the arrival of the pit. Then all of the pieces were transported to Orange Avenue in pickup trucks that the fathers’ owned. Finally, on Sunday, July 9, they assembled the GaGa Pit in about two hours!

The children who knew about the game GaGa were very excited and soon began teaching the other children at the pool. Everyone came to watch this new game being played! Frank commented that the attraction of the game is that all age groups can be included and the “simple, unstructured rules” are appealing. “It keeps kids constantly active!”

Frank said that this project was a lot of fun. He mentioned, “We had a lot of cooperation – the dads were very excited.” This “GaGa team” (including Frank) consisted of all Cranford dads: Dave Mehr, Steve Kelly, Keith Muccigrosso, Andrew Soytka, Dominick Lanzisera, Cameron Andre, Greg Wofsy, Craig Sjursen, Robert Kelly, Chris Bath, and Joe Uglialoro.

Frank wanted to add a note of thanks to Cranford’s Steve Robertazzi and the pool staff, the DPW, Pat Giblin for supporting the idea, and the spouses for supporting the dads and their idea! He mentioned that the whole GaGa team is “happy to donate a small, fun thing back to Cranford!”

Okay folks – there it is! Read the rules and head over to the pool! See what all the fuss is about! It’s bound to be a great summer over there! Thanks Cranford dads for taking action and adding to our wonderful town. Who knows – you may start seeing more GaGa Pits popping up in unexpected places!

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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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Be Van You

Have Paint, Will Travel!

Be Van You

You’ve probably have heard of these paint-and-sip shops and events that are trending right now, and for good reason–it’s a blast (I can say that because I’ve done it myself!). But two Cranford moms have a new spin on the paint-night business that will bring the artsy fun right to your front door! 

Be Van YouTammy and Jeanette launched Be Van You this March as a mobile paint-and-sip business that brings painting and crafting parties directly to clients. The name is a nod to Van Gogh–the idea being that even you (yes, YOU) can be an artist, because with Tammy’s expert yet gentle guidance, even those folks who can hardly draw stick figures become something of a Van Gough, and clients marvel over the beautiful art they never knew they could create! Jeanette said, “We want people to find the creativity in themselves. Just like in the movie Ratatouille, where the lesson is that anyone can cook, we believe that anyone can paint!” 

Be Van You isn’t just for adults who want to paint while enjoying a glass (or two … or three) of wine. Tammy and Jeanette offer parties for all ages, including kids, and they also cater to corporate clients as well for creative team-building events. 

What can you expect if you hire Be Van You to host a party at your home or business? Jeanette said, “We bring everything from tables and chairs to all the art supplies … we even have lighting to set up outside for under-the-stars parties, tarps to cover floors, and aprons. The only thing we don’t provide is liquor and food.” An adult paint party costs about $35 a person (8-person minimum at that price), and Be Van You makes everything super easy so that you can include a payment link for guests in your online invitation. And if you don’t want the party in your house, Be Van You will travel to the location of your choosing. 

They have several art party packages for children, and you can choose to add on face painting and goody bags to make it a party that the kids will never forget. These parties are terrific because each guest gets to go home with a work of art!

You can find more information about Be Van You on their Facebook page @BeVanYou or call (908) 324-8364

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Cranford ROCKS!

Cranford ROCKS! A New and Fun Tradition!

My Assistant Angela is in LOVE with this rock... she tells her kids "Don't forget to be awesome!" before every soccer game!

My Assistant Angela is in LOVE with this rock… she tells her kids “Don’t forget to be awesome!” before every soccer game!

A Cranford mom (and one of my favorite clients EVER!) has brought an adorable new tradition to town that is making people smile left and right! It’s called Cranford Rocks, and it has nothing to do with music.

Kristen Mider moved with her husband and children from Brooklyn to Cranford 3 1/2 years ago. Back when she lived in Brooklyn, her family participated in something that is unofficially known as Kindness Rocks, where people of all ages paint rocks and hide them in the neighborhood for people to find. Kristen said, “The idea is that someone will stumble upon one of the rocks, and it will brighten their day.”

 

 

One of Kristen’s friends lost her son to suicide and asked that people create Kindness Rocks in his memory, and that further inspired Kristen to continue this activity.

 

Around 6 months ago Kristen launched the Cranford Rocks Facebook  group to introduce the Kindness Rocks theme to our town. “We were the first to create the rocks in Cranford, hide them, and post about it on Facebook, and as soon as we did, it just took off. The page went from having just a few followers to several hundred.”

Kristen stresses that everyone is welcome to participate–even adults who don’t have children have painted and left rocks. The rocks are often painted in very bright colors, sometimes with messages on them such as  “Let the Sun Shine” or “Be Kind.” 

Kristen’s kids have found rocks at Lincoln Park, Unami Park, Nomahegan Park, and even Eastman Plaza in Downtown Cranford. And they’ve made sure to hide just as many rocks as they’ve found. Kristen said, “It empowers the kids–I want them to know they have the power to make the world a nicer place and lift someone’s spirits. They get so excited when people post photos of their found rocks online.” 

So go out in your backyard, find a rock, paint it, and leave the rock where someone will find it and then hopefully pay it forward! 

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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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