BERNARDS TWP., NJ - The church around which the village of Basking Ridge grew up - dating back the construction of a log cabin next to an oak tree that was old even then - celebrated its 300th anniversary on Saturday with a parade and congratulations from local and further-away well-wishers.
The Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church has been commemorating its 300th anniversary throughout 2017. Saturday afternoon's parade pulled together many civic organizations, local religious groups and bands from both Ridge High School and Bonnie Brae Educational Center in Liberty Corner.
Along with past pastors from the church, current Pastor Dennis Jones thanked the crowd for attending the parade to celebrate the church's first 300 years and "helping us to kick off and get excited about the next 300 years."
Bernards Township Mayor Carolyn Gaziano noted that the first version of the church - a log cabin - was planted next to the landmark tree that was already 300 years old back in 1717.
Although the tree was noticeably missing when the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church held a parade on Saturday celebrating the church's 300th anniversary, it was mentioned several times. The tree was lauded and recalled for its sense of stability and wonder at the people and events, both famous and routine, that had taken place beneath its branches.
The white oak had been located on the property of the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church in downtown Basking Ridge, until the 600-year-old tree was determined to have ended its life and was removed in late April.
A drawing of the tree by Cody the Creative was presented to the church by Lydia Kerrick and her daughters, Kaylen, 10, and Ashlee, 6, on behalf of The Acorn Project, in which students from throughout the school district donated $1 to fund the artwork.
Along with the Ridge High School Color Guard and Marching Band, the parade featured the Drumline performers from Bonnie Brae Educational Center in Liberty Corner. A video of the Bonnie Brae band is here.