January 1, 2013 at 9:09 PM
WEST ORANGE, NJ - There's always something going on in West Orange, and 2012 was no exception. With the addition of the 150th Sesiquicentennial Celebration, it was non stop in town. Here are the highlights of West Orange Community events in 2012.
In January, the West Orange Chamber of Commerce Breakfast at Mayfair Farms featured the Mayor's annual State of the Township address. At that time, the Mayor talked about the ups and downs of 2011 and expressed concern over the town's ability to present a 2012 budget with no tax increase. Patti Duffy, head of Social Services, was named Employee of the year, and Shari Susskind, who spearheads the Mayor's 5K Ovarian Cancer Run, was named Volunteer of the year.
The Rotary Club's Annual event, Taste of the World, raised monies for scholarships and other Rotary sponsored community outreaches.
A Day In West Orange photo retrospective opened at the JCC on March 11. It took a day in the life of West Orange residents and translated it into photographs.
The annual West Orange St. Patrick's Day Parade drew the usual large crowds despite the chilly weather.
The series of Sesquicentennial events began with Joe Fagan's 7 part series on the history of West Orange.
Kids enjoyed the annual West Orange Spring Fling and Easter Egg Hunt before Easter.
On April 25, the West Orange Chamber of Commerce held its awards dinner at Mayfair Farms. Awards were given to the entire West Orange Fire Department; Detective Ryan Funk of the Police Department; and Geri Dawes of the First Aid Squad. Victor Paglio of West Orange High School was named Educator of the Year, and Sonet Family Dental was named Business of the Year.
On May 6, the Susan Komen Race to the Cure was held at Codey Arena.
On May 28, the township held its moving Memorial Day Ceremony in honor of fallen members of the military and in recognition to West Orange citizens that have served in the military.
New Jersey Arts Incubator (NJAI) signs on to take over and present programming at the Oscar Schindler Performing Arts Center (OSPAC).
On June 14, the Community House Awards dinner recognized Roger and Gerald Schneider of Schneider Hardware, Business of the Year; Councilman Victor Cirilo, Councilperson of the Year; Detective Lou Mignone, Volunteer of the Year; Dr. Anthony Cavanna, Friend of the Club; and Hayden Moore, Betty Maddalena Educator of the Year.
The Sesquicentennial Celebrations continued with a display of historical West Orange memorabilia; a West Orange PAL and Mountaintop baseball game; placement of a time capsule at Town Hall; and a Fourth of July evening at West Orange High School full of fun and fireworks.
In August, the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) sponsored their yearly 'Back to School Shop' for underprivileged children at B'Nai Shalom, providing thousands of dollars worth of shoes, clothing, school supplies and accessories to children, as well as important health information for their families.
Most sports organizations held fundraisers to offset the cost of their programs in West Orange, and the Beefsteak fund raiser for the WOHS football team was only one example of community efforts to keep sports going for all the kids in town, pre-school through Grade 12.
In September, the Walk for Nikhil raised $40,000 to provide scholarships and music lessons to West Orange children. Nikhil died in 2011 after a car ran a stop sign. In December, their emotional Worldwide Candle Lighting Ceremony to honor children that have passed away, was held at Toby Katz Center, and their Driver's Safety presentation to WOHS students impressed and educated.
The Mayor's 5K Run for Ovarian Cancer was also held on September 23, and continued its successful effort to raise money for ovarian cancer research and awareness.
The annual two day Jazzfest at OSPAC was visited by hundreds of residents and visitors.
Hundreds of residents flocked to the annual West Orange Town Picnic at WOHS, which featured a DJ, free food, activities and township information.
On October 3, the West Orange Humans Relations Commission presented its October Township Anti-Bullying kickoff at Town Hall.
On October 29, the township was hit by Hurricane Sandy. Over 80% of the township was without power, some areas up to two weeks. Online and social media, via the http://www.westorange.org website and Facebook page, the Alternative Press, and other social venues helped in dissemination of information despite the lack of electricity. Whether it was information about the town curfew, the gas shortages, what stations were open, who was getting power back, or where to vote, the effort helped residents deal with a difficult situation.
The Rec Department provided a community Halloween event at Liberty Middle School, complete with movies and a full hot turkey dinner, to hundreds of residents, on November 5. On November 16, a community gathering to recognize township employees who had worked non-stop through the storm, and a drop off for cleaning supplies for hurricane victims down the shore, was also held at Liberty Middle School.
West Orange Cares shipped a truckload of packages to American troops in Kuwait and Afghanistan.
The West Orange Chamber of Commerce, West Orange Rotary, Unico, and Lions Club came together for its annual Thanksgiving luncheon. Town businesses, schools, organizations, and groups came together to provide turkeys and trimmings for all the members of the West Orange Food Pantry. Over 150 families had a Thanksgiving dinner thanks to the kindness of the West Orange Community.
The Holidays celebrations continued in West Orange with the Menorah lighting on December 12; the Old Fashioned Christmas Tree Lighting on the 15th; and the West Orange African Heritage Organization's Kwaanza celebration on December 20.
Turtleback Zoo topped 500,000 visitors and announced their Holiday Light Show.
Community outreach and care for the less fortunate continued with the Gregory Cares Food Drive, which donated an unprecendented 5,000 pounds of non-preishable food to the West Orange Food Pantry.
So what do you think, West Orange? Did we get it right? Let us know if there's more you'd like to add about our great community and the groups and individuals that work to help others.