NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ -- Officials, residents, former residents and even a guest from Finland, helped make the Kickoff of the borough’s Tricentennial Celebration a great success. No one knew quite how many people to expect and everyone involved agreed this first event of the year was even better than they hoped.

More than 200 people stopped by the DeCorso Community Center Saturday evening, Feb. 22, where they learned a lot about the borough’s history, met friends, enjoyed food donated by local restaurants and stores, and learned details about upcoming Tricentennial events, which include a Turkey Dinner in April. Signups begin today, Feb. 26, for the Turkey Dinner,  in honor of the town’s original name, “Turkey.” Find more details on upcoming events, below.

The main room of the DeCorso Center was lined with tables filled with historical documents and newspaper clippings about the borough, as well as food donated by local restaurants. 

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The most popular spots, other than the food table, appeared to be those with documents and photos from the past, including the Rescue Squad, Police Department and Fire Department tables.

The Fire Department’s table held two scrapbooks filled with news clippings and photographs about the department, always seemed to have a small crowd. The clippings included photos taken at borough fires, stories about the fires and rescues made by the department, and official photos of the department’s officers.  

Another popular table was across the room, along the entire wall. It was filled with hand-drawn reproductions of borough maps from the 1600s through the 20th century. Throughout the evening, a crowd gathered along the table. People studied the maps, which focused on various details -- property owners, roads and streets, and the Passaic Valley, just to name a few topics. There was also a painting of the Murray Hill Train Station, and a large “poster” showing the history of the Presbyterian Meeting House from 1739-1834. Several people photographed the maps and took notes, possibly for researching the family’s genealogy. 

Tricentennial Celebration Chairperson Betty Metzger said, according to the Historic Society, the majority of the reproduction maps were “hand-drawn by former resident Frank Orleans,” years ago.

As people entered and left the main room, a table filled with Tricentennial gear drew everyone’s attention. From a baseball-style cap with “New Providence Tricentennial 1720-2020,” to clothes featuring the Tricentennial logo, “Celebrating 300 years of Pioneers,” to hooded sweatshirts, long and short-sleeved T-shirts, and crew neck sweatshirts, there was something for everyone in every size. These can be ordered online or purchased from Special Tees, 300 Springfield Ave., Berkeley Heights.

Mayor Al Morgan, who was the chairman of the evening’s event, greeted residents and told them a little about the history of the borough. He pointed out the borough still has its “Liberty Pole,” on top of which patriots would place a hat if there was going to be a town meeting.

The mayor introduced State Senator Tom Kean, Jr., to the crowd, which greeted him warmly. Kean said he was happy to be able to be part of the celebration of 300 years of Pioneers, then took the time to look at the displays and speak to the guests and organizers.

Police Chief Anthony Buccelli, Jr, who is celebrating 40 years with the department, stopped by to help kickoff the celebration and speak to friends.

Restaurants and stores which donated food included: Avenue Deli; Coppolla Ristorante 7 Pizzeria; Harlee’s Tap & Grill; Starbucks; Moe’s Bistro; Old Glory Restaurant; Paolo’s Kitchen; Prestige Diner; Providence Bar & Kitchen and South Street Market.

Members of the Lions served the food and kept the tables filled. 

Upcoming Tricentennial Events:

Turkey Dinner, at the New Providence Presbyterian Church. There are only 170 spaces available for the dinner, which will be held on Saturday, April 25. The catered dinner will include Roast Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, turkey gravy, and cranberry sauce, with a green side salad, with a choice of two dressings, rolls, and butter. Dessert will include sliced pumpkin pie. Drinks will include the choice of coffee, tea, water, and apple cider. The cost is $25 per person, all ages, and a reservation is required. Register using Community Pass starting today, Feb. 26, or by mailing a check parable to The Borough of New Providence, 360 Elkwood Ave., New Providence, NJ 07974. Attn: Tricentennial Dinner.  

Heritage Day, June 14.

Memorial Day Parade.

Family Fun Day -- to be held in September.

More details will be published as they become available.