NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The annual Memorial Day Parade will begin Monday at Monument Square and move across the Albany Street Bridge and into Highland Park.
Five or so weeks from now, the two municipalities will be joining forces again. The annual July 4th fireworks display will light up the summer skies.
It seems New Brunswick and its neighbor to the north share an uncommon cooperation and collaboration that spans the banks of the Raritan River.
"We work with many towns on municipal issues, but we do enjoy the relationship we have with Highland Park," a spokesperson for New Brunswick said.
In an era where shared service agreements have become a common and practical way for neighboring towns to save some money on the costs of, say, animal control, the relationship between New Brunswick and Highland Park seems much more personal.
That feeling extends down to the winter maintenance of the bridge, Highland Park Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler pointed out. New Brunswick is responsible for shoveling the snow on the walkway of one side, Highland Park the other.
When it's suggested that her borough, which has about a quarter of the population of New Brunswick and occupies a third of the land size of the city, is the little brother of New Brunswick, she laughs and says, "Or, little sister."
"It's been a really good, cooperative relationship over the years," Brill Mittler said. "We alternate every other year who's going to start the parade and who's going to end the parade."
The parade will start at 11 a.m. The Veterans Alliance of Raritan Valley invites everyone to join them for a ceremony at Monument Square at the corner of Livingston Avenue and George Street. The parade then proceeds up Raritan Avenue to the Doughboy Monument in Highland Park. A second ceremony will take place at the monument located at the intersection of Woodbridge and Raritan avenues.
The collaboration between the municipalities continues throughout the year, Brill Mittler said. She and New Brunswick Mayor James Cahill sometimes discuss ways they can join forces to improve the quality of life for their citizens.
"We talk about things we would like to see in terms of transportation across the bridge and that includes walking, bicycling and, maybe even one day, a shuttle bus," she said.
Brill Mittler said that if you look beyond the cooperation of local governments, you will see two municipalities that simply fit together well.
She said New Brunswick is a hub for the arts, with such venues as the soon to be refurbished New Brunswick Performing Arts Center. Her borough has many dance and singing studios and places for actors and actresses to practice their trade.
Even when it comes to food, New Brunswick and Highland Park go together like surf and turf.
"We really complement each other and we recognize it," she said. "Just for example, when you want to go out to eat in a fancy restaurant, our residents will go across the bridge to New Brunswick. But, if you want to go out for a casual dinner and a BYOB, you're staying here in Highland Park and inviting all our friends in New Brunswick to walk across the bridge to us."