Business & Finance

Livingston Area Chamber Celebrates Thanksgiving in a Big Way

Louis Urban, Livingston Chamber President Credits: Jessica Marrone Parkes
Richard Peirce delivering Invocation Credits: Jessica Marrone Parkes
Louis Urban and Rabi Greg Litcofsky Credits: Jessica Marrone Parkes
Geanne Parke of the Lunchtime Rotary Club Credits: Jessica Marrone Parkes
Jack Ackerman, Sunrise Rotary President Credits: Jessica Marrone Parkes
Jim Wahler, Kiwanis Club Credits: Jessica Marrone Parkes
Barry Goldberg, Lion's Club Credits: Jessica Marrone Parkes
Ira Drucks, Free Masons Credits: Jessica Marrone Parkes
Louis LaSalle, St. Barnabas Credits: Jessica Marrone Parkes
Johnny Marrone of Johnny's on the Green Catering demonstrates Banana Flambe Credits: Jessica Marrone Parkes

LIVINGSTON, NJ – The Livingston Chamber hosted about 75 guests on Tuesday afternoon at its annual Thanksgiving Luncheon at the Cedar Hill Country Club.

The guest list was made up of local business leaders, politicians and service organizations that came together for an afternoon to celebrate the essence of community and volunteerism in Livingston.

Opening speakers Rabbi Greg Litcofsky of Temple Emanu-El and Richard Pierce delivered prayers and the afternoon invocation.    

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“Don’t separate yourself from the community,” said Rabbi Litcofsky as he interpreted a Jewish saying. “This is an enduring religious value – to be a part of, and to participate in the broader community at large.”

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Representing local service organizations, Geanne Parke from the Lunchtime Rotary Club, Jack Ackerman from the Sunrise Rotary Club, Jim Wahler from the Kiwanis Club, Barry Goldberg from the Lions Club and Ira Drucks from the Free Masons shared with the crowd their group’s mission and current community projects.

This year, the Lunchtime Rotary Club is again working on their Dictionary Project which strives to provide dictionaries to all third grade students in all public and private Livingston schools.  The group is also busy putting together needy baskets for families in Livingston for its 10th year in a row during Thanksgiving and is specifically excited about receiving a recent district grant which will enable the Club to provide even more baskets for the coming holiday season.

The Breakfast Rotary just hosted its 10th Annual Food Tasting in the beginning of November where it raised money for the St. Barnabas Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The group is also able to boast being the recipient of a district grant which has been used for Sandy relief.

The Kiwanis Club is celebrating 84 years of service in the Livingston community and has raised and given away more than one million dollars during that time period. Wahler, the club’s president explained that they support the first-aid squad, fire department, library and many other community organizations “aggressively and generously.”  In addition, the club works with children with special needs and sponsors the Livingston High School Key Club and encourages children to take on leadership roles.

“What is special and unique to me about the Kiwanis Club is that it’s not political, its co-ed," Wahler said. "It’s not for business – It’s really just for people that wake up in the morning and say I want to make a difference.”

The Lions Club also has programs running throughout the year, mainly providing drop off locations for people wishing to donate their used eye glasses to the less fortunate. Residence can drop off old eye glasses at the library, post office and community center. The Lions Club then works with LensCrafters in East Hanover, which reads the prescriptions and distributes them to Third-World countries. The club also gives scholarships and has contributed to the Livingston Bicentennial Celebration.

Lastly, the group was educated about the Free Masons, which Drucks characterized as the oldest fraternal organization in the world. “If you don’t know anything about the Free Masons, it’s an organization of secrets, without any secrets,” he joked before explaining that the Free Masons “basically help men to be better men themselves through their community and there family.”

According to Drucks, the Free Masons are responsible for donating $3.5 million per day worldwide and locally they support the Children’s Center and the Children’s Hospital. Currently, the organization is raising money to provide relief to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and regularly supports the Big L Club, the ARC Walk and the Boy Scouts.

After lunch, special guest Johnny Marrone of Johnny’s on the Green did a live demonstration of table-side Banana Flambe, a quick dessert that can be whipped up as a Thanksgiving treat and Mayor Rudy Fernandez offered closing remarks calling Livingston “the town of volunteers.”

“Many organizations are represented here today but there are many other organizations that are active in town,” said Fernandez.  “Really, Livingston was built on the efforts of volunteers – not only people belonging to town committees but also all of the volunteers from service organizations.”

Local businesses that missed the Livingston Area Chamber Thanksgiving Luncheon should mark their calendars for the chamber’s annual Christmas Celebration coming up on Dec. 11 at 5:30 p.m. at Calabria’s Restaurant.

For more information contact Beth Lippman at

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