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Arlington Ave. Residents Celebrate 25th Year Block Party Tradition By DEBORAH MADISON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
WESTFIELD — A group of neighbors, bonded for generations by tradition and concern for one another, marked a milestone September 4 with the 25th Silver Anniversary Arlington Avenue Block Party.
The event, which lasted from noon until 10 p. m., was a salute to the history of the community and the block itself, as well as a festive mix of food, entertainment and reminiscing.
The block party tradition began in 1975, when Arlington Avenue resident Sally Lafferty hosted a welcoming gettogether for then new residents Robert and Anne Wischusn and the Zicchino family.
Since that time, both the Wischusns and the Zicchinos have moved away, but the annual block party has continued.
The event coordinators have maintained a scrapbook detailing all of the previous block parties, as well as some neighborhood history.
In honor of the Silver Anniversary event, Fourth Ward Councilman and Acting Westfield Mayor Lawrence A. Goldman, acting on behalf of Mayor Thomas C. Jardim, presented Mary Jo Rice, CoCoordinator of the party, with a proclamation from the Town of Westfield.
The proclamation stated that on behalf of the town, Mayor Jardim declared September 4, 1999 to be Arlington Avenue Day. It also stated that the Arlington Avenue Block Party exemplified a tradition in Westfield of
neighborliness and community spirit. On display at the block party was a pictorial and written history of the Town of Westfield, and of the Arlington Avenue neighborhood, researched, edited and designed by Ms. Rice.
The history, highlighted by posters hanging on a 40foot length of rope, included old maps, old newspaper advertisements, business directories from the 1800s, old photographs and many other vintage documents detailing what life was like in Westfield throughout the centuries.
Ms. Rice plans to combine all of the poster displays into a booklet which will be distributed to the residents, with copies to go to the Westfield Historical Society as well.
Some photographs exhibited during this year’s block party showed residents as they looked many years ago, and participants were asked to guess who the pictures belonged to. Residents also submitted photographs of what their homes used to look like, which were also on display.
Other activities at the party included a clown and magic show from 1: 30 to 3: 30 p. m., presented by Marilyn Madsen, alias “Tickles the Clown.” Dressed in traditional clown costume and makeup, “Tickles” dazzled children of all ages at the block party with her menagerie of unusual animals, including live ducklings and an armadillo.
Many people from surrounding blocks were also invited to attend the party. Neighbors streamed in and out throughout the day, surveying the old maps and photographs, trying to find evidence of what their street or house looked like 50 or 100 years ago.
Some residents had fun trying to guess in what year particular photographs of houses were taken by the design and landscaping. Many of the old pictures depicted unpaved dirt roads without street lights.
Karen Muller, CoChairwoman of the block party, said the display exemplifies how different life was in Westfield 200 years ago, when the
town’s forefathers had to worry about whether their farms would produce enough food to feed their families.
“The historical display really shows how much life has changed and how different our focus is today,” Ms. Muller
said. Adult entertainment for the evening was presented by Vic Rose, keyboardist and singer, who plays popular music and requests. Gifts were presented to some of the residents for their participation as coordinators of past Arlington Avenue block parties.
A pictorial throwquilt with illustrations of Westfield’s landmarks was presented to Ms. Lafferty for her contribution as founder of the Arlington Avenue block party. Westfield coffee mugs were presented to all of the past coordinators. The quilt and mugs were purchased at Periwinkle’s Fine Gifts in Westfield. Gifts of toys were given to all of the children as well.
According to Ms. Rice, many of the residents host neighborhood holiday parties and other social gatherings throughout the year. During times of hardship, the neighbors also pitch in to help each other out, she revealed.
When Ms. Rice had to have surgery, her neighbors delivered homecooked meals to her house for two weeks, she recalled.
“We’ve got the best community spirit in the world,” Ms. Rice stated. “We’re a very special neighborhood.”
Fanwood Library Plans Event To Unveil Automation Project By KIMBERLY A. BROADWELL
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
FANWOOD — Gearing up to embrace the new millennium, the Fanwood Memorial Library announced this week that it will be fully automated as of Saturday, September 18.
According to Library Director Dan Weiss, the library will hold an official ribboncutting ceremony that day from 10 to 10: 45 a. m. to celebrate completion of the automation project.
Afterwards, the library, located at North Avenue and Tillotson Road, will offer orientation sessions, as well as handson training, for the new automation from 11 a. m. until 4 p. m.
A year ago, the Fanwood Library became part of the Libraries of Middlesex Automation Consortium (LMxAC). “We have decided to become a part of this consortium, which has 26 member municipalities in Middlesex and Union Counties, so that we can bring Fanwood residents a library to best suit their needs,” Mr. Weiss remarked.
“Being a member of this consortium automates our entire library of over 38,000 items, gives technology training to our library staff to better help our public and provides 25 other libraries to obtain resources from,” he continued.
“It brings the total number of resources available to Fanwood residents up to 500,000.” Mr. Weiss noted that deciding to become a part of the consortium was something that did not happen overnight. “Weighing out the pros and cons of joining the consortium was the first step on a long road to where we are today,” he noted.
“The cost and resources available of automating the library by ourselves, as opposed to joining the consortium, was taken into consideration, as well as noting that we have a relatively small library in comparison to other Union County facilities, serving approximately 7,000 residents,” Mr. Weiss explained.
“By being a part of the consortium, we now are linked to 25 other libraries, including the Kenilworth and Plainfield libraries.”
According to Mr. Weiss the new system will provide Internet access through all nine of their computers for public use. He noted that the Fanwood Library also subscribes to such resources as InfoTrac, a periodical and newspaper index that offers full text magazine articles; Electric Library,
which is a complete online reference center with 100 percent full text access to articles, television and radio transcripts and books, as well as online versions of The Encyclopedia
Britannica and The World Book Encyclopedia.
The library Director stated that being a part of the consortium also provides the Fanwood Library staff, which includes four fulltime personnel as well as eight parttime workers and six high school shelvers, with technology training.
Another benefit of being in the consortium is having the services of Info Link, which Mr. Weiss explained is a North Jersey delivery link that can bring resources to the Fanwood Library from others in the consortium within two days.
When asked why Fanwood decided to join a Middlesex County consortium, Mr. Weiss simply explained that there was no such group in Union County, and reiterated that Kenilworth and Plainfield were also part of the Middlesex County group.
In a press release recently sent to
The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch PlainsFanwood, the Fanwood Library’s Board of Directors and Mr. Weiss thanked “automation partners who have helped to make the automation project a success.”
According to Mr. Weiss, this includes the New Jersey State Library, which administered two grants called The Integrated OnLine Library Systems Grant for Public and Community College Libraries, and the Technology Bond Fund, which includes both federal and state moneys.
“There is a real pull by the state to try and link all of New Jersey’s libraries together in the near future, to have a virtual NJ Library Network in which all libraries in the state would be interconnected,” noted Mr. Weiss. “The Internet would be able to make this a possibility.”
Recently, the consortium asked Mr. Weiss to serve on its Executive Board, as one of seven members serving a twoyear term. “I was very honored when the consortium approached me,” stated the library Director. “I am looking forward to helping advance the
general state of the consortium. “I am also glad that each library in the consortium has an appointed representative to the group, which shows that a small library like Fanwood has the same voice as some of the bigger libraries.
A new computerized card for checking out materials is in effect, according to Mr. Weiss, as well as a separate new card for borrowing items from the children’s section.
Besides getting up to speed with the computer age, the library building was recently enhanced with new landscaping. Other planned improvements include a fresh paint coat and new carpeting.
Mr. Weiss joined the Fanwood Library in October of 1997, having previously been the Reference Librarian at the Bernards Township Library in Basking Ridge.
He explained that when he came to the Fanwood library, “the main goal of the Board of Directors was to have the library become automated.
“It’s been a lot of work and I commend the library staff for working very hard at learning all the new technology so that they can serve the public,” concluded Mr. Weiss.
Picnic to Benefit Sgt. Pat Gray Set for Sept. 12
WESTFIELD — Community members are invited to attend a benefit picnic for Westfield Patrol Sergeant Pat Gray on Sunday, September 12, in Clark. Sergeant Gray was seriously injured in an automobile accident in Westfield on June 16.
Funds raised at the event will help defray medical expenses for Sergeant Gray, a 22year veteran of the Westfield force.
The event will be held at Gran Centurions, located at 440 Madison Hill Road in Clark, from noon until 7 p. m.
A donation of $10 is requested for each adult who wishes to attend. There is no cost for children.
Entertainment, food and beverages will be provided. For more information, please call (908) 7894006.
Children’s Specialized Plans Safety Program
MOUNTAINSIDE – Safety Awareness for Everyone (S. A. F. E.), a free safety awareness program, will be held on Tuesday, September 14, from 7: 30 to 9 p. m. at Children’s Specialized Hospital, 150 New Providence Road, Mountainside.
Safety tips will be provided by local law enforcement agencies, including the Union County Sheriff’s Office. Topics will include safety in the home, on the Internet and in the community.
Information on how to be aware of and respond to potentially dangerous situations will be provided.
A representative from the Union County Prosecutor’s Office will inform parents about how to safeguard children who use the Internet.
To register, or for more information, please call (908) 3015432.
Literacy Volunteers Plan Library Event
WESTFIELD – The Union County Affiliate of Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA) will be holding a Literacy Library Day at the Westfield Memorial Library, located at 550 East Broad Street, on Saturday, September 18, from 10 a. m. to 2 p. m.
All interested potential or current students and tutors are invited to attend. Tutors will have an opportunity to find out what materials are available to use, or how to solve problems that they are having. Potential tutors will be able to obtain information about the program.
Interested students may be assessed if they call the LVA office at (908) 4900333 to make an appointment for that day.
Deborah Madison for The Westfield Leader and The Times NEIGHBORHOOD CELEBRATION… These youngsters enjoy the festivities at the 25th Silver Anniversary Arlington Avenue Block Party last Saturday. Local residents pored over old photographs, enjoyed entertainment and shared fond memories of their neighborhood. A proclamation was also presented by Westfield Councilman and Acting Mayor Lawrence A. Goldman to commemorate the milestone event.