LIVINGSTON, NJ — Kicking off October with art, music, food, rides and community outreach by local officials, the Township of Livingston hosted three events this weekend that attracted many local residents despite the rainy weather: Livingston UNICO’s “Oktoberfeast Celebrazione,” Art at the Oval and a Livingston Fire Department Open House.

UNICO Livingston Chapter’s first annual “Oktoberfeast Celebrazione” Italian Festival Friday-Sunday featured games, rides, food, beer and wine in the St. Philomena’s Church parking lot. Live bands, a Frank Sinatra impersonator and a Pickleball exhibition were among some of the highlights of the three-day festival.

“It’s fun to see a slice of Italy in Livingston,” said Mayor Al Anthony. “It’s been a great three days despite the weather, and I feel like it’s just about to kick into gear just as we’re closing so I’m sad.”

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John Bargoud of Livingston won the 50/50 raffle, which will go toward supporting UNICO’s many charities. Monsignor Robert Fuhrman from Saint Philomena did the drawing and presented the award to Bargoud along with Pat Ippolito, Mayor Al Anthony, UNICO president Kevin Francione, vice president Mike Anello and treasurer Andy Cassese.

“We give to over 34 charities,” said Francione. “This will be one of the main events of the year for UNICO Livingston Chapter. We’re going to make some improvements for next year, but we’ll be back that’s for sure.”

UNICO Livingston Chapter gives out three $2,000 scholarships to Livingston High School students as well as the Brian Piccolo sportsmanship award that is given to one student each June and also supports the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) food pantry. This particular event also raised some money for Saint Philomena’s Church for allowing UNICO use church property.

In the St. Philomena gym, residents young and old came to learn the game of Pickleball from the many LIVINGSTON PICKLEBALL members on hand to offer instruction. There was also a featured “Mixed Doubles” match between Mayor Anthony and his wife, Lori, who are avid supporters of Pickleball, vs. Marlene Zulauf and Michael Garber, co-founder of LIVINGSTON PICKLEBALL.  

“The goal of LIVINGSTON PICKLEBALL was to teach as many people as possible over the weekend to play, raise some money for UNICO in the form of contributions and get everyone to have fun,” said Garber. “They accomplished everything.”

“[Oktoberfeast] didn’t meet our expectations, but it was still a fantastic event,” said Anello. “Everyone that came enjoyed it and had a great time.”

Alongside UNICO’s Oktoberfeast on Saturday was the annual Art at the Oval, which was moved inside Livingston High School due to the weather. Hosted by the Arts Council of Livingston, Art at the Oval displayed artistic creations, including professional fine artists, jewelers, craftspeople and more, from 30 vendors.

Arts Council member Hugh Mahon said that holding an outdoor art show indoors comes with its own challenges, but said the council appreciated the high school for graciously hosting the event inside the auxiliary gym. Mahon was among the professional artists who displayed his art in a variety of media, including paintings, collages, sculptures and some photography.

“Having taught art in the Livingston school system for 39 years, I became a ‘generalist,’” said Mahon. “That allows me to see art and produce it in many forms and media. I will be showing more of my work at Livingston Town Hall in November and December.”

As a kickoff to Fire Prevention Month, local youth and their families were given the opportunity to interact with real-life firefighters, take pictures with Sparky the firedog and try on gear at the annual Livingston Fire Department Open House on Sunday.   

An extrication demonstration on site showed the public what the firefighters go through in car accidents by cutting apart some cars. All equipment, including hoses and other equipment that children to climb on and play with were also on display.

This year’s fire prevention campaign is “Don’t wait, check your date,” on all fire detectors in the home, which expire after 10 years. As a general home fire-safety plan, the department encourages Livingston residents to change the batteries twice each year—suggesting that they change the batteries the same times they change their clocks.

During Fire Prevention Week, beginning Oct. 9, the department will visit all six Livingston elementary schools for fire prevention talks.