Newark is turning 350 years old next year and to mark the occasion, the city is throwing a year-long celebration that will showcase the rich history of the city with a series of events, partnerships, parties, panels and forums.
Newark Celebration 350, the umbrella organization coordinating the effort, is planning to kick off the anniversary with a day of family-friendly events in the newly renovated Military Park on Saturday, October 17 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The day will feature a parade, a series of live concerts and performances, arts and crafts, various demonstrations and global cuisine representing all the communities of Newark.
Newark Celebration 350's kick-off event will include the Creation Nation™ Art and Peace Parade showcasing original Animodule™ sculptures.
“We stand on the edge of the 350th anniversary of Newark’s founding as a vibrant community with a rich cultural diversity and heritage of economic innovations and academic resilience,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka.
"For three-and-a-half centuries, long before the American Revolution through the Civil Rights Era and beyond, our ancestors built businesses and sustained trades that powered America’s growth," Baraka said. "Today, we are revitalizing our historic downtown, reinvigorating our neighborhoods and communities and reimagining Newark as America’s newest Destination City."
Junius Williams, the chair of Newark Celebration 350 and the Director of the Abbott Leadership Institute at Rutgers University, said everyone in the city can participate in Newark's 350th Anniversary.
"My top priority will be ensuring that every member of our community has the opportunity to be part of this celebration," Williams said. "A great deal of time and effort has been put into our October 17th kick off and I hope families throughout Newark and neighboring communities throughout New Jersey descend on Military Park to help us celebrate.”
Newark Celebration 350 was originally the inspiration of Dr. Clement Price, a celebrated Rutgers historian who passed away last year. His goal was to use the 350th Anniversary as an opportunity to showcase the talents of the city’s citizenry and the rich history of Newark.
The NC350 committee consists of a broad coalition of arts, community, academic, business and government organizations all based in Newark.
In conjunction with the announcement of the Oct. 17 event, NC350, in collaboration with Greater Newark Convention and Visitor Bureau, launched NC350.org, which will serve as a focal point for all events and activities surrounding the 350th anniversary celebration as well as a pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. All social media posts will be hashtagged #Newark350.
The October 17th Celebration will kick-off at 11 a.m. at NJPAC, with the Barat Foundation’s annual Creation Nation™ Art and Peace Parade.
Now in its eighth year and a staple within Newark’s cultural landscape, the Creation Nation™ Art and Peace Parade in concert with NC350, will showcase the work of 3,500 Newark students in over 50 schools and community organizations. They will be celebrating their creation of original Animodule™ sculptures as part of the Barat Foundation’s education programming.
The parade will also feature Newark’s high school marching bands and performing arts organizations.
The Newark Arts Council’s annual Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival, which celebrates Newark's unique and diverse contributions to the arts and to American culture, will work closely with NC350 on Saturday, October 17, holding special tours of artist studios including Nell Painter, Luisa Pinzon, Gallery Aferro, Paul Robeson Gallery and many others.
The Newark Museum, also a partner in Newark Celebration 350, will reflect on the city’s colorful 350-year history while looking forward, asking participants to imagine and create the Newark of the future on a mural-sized canvas.
Attendees can also engage in kaleidoscope making, tying their activity in Military Park back to the Festival of Color & Light occurring at the Newark Museum that day from noon- 9pm.
All other events will be located in Military Park will run from noon to 5 p.m.
"As caretakers of Newark's historic commons, the Military Park Partnership is proud to host the kickoff celebration for the city's 350th anniversary, and continue the park's role as Newark's town square," said Dan Biederman, President of Military Park Partnership.
While additional live concerts and attractions will be announced in the days leading up to the event, the following events are confirmed:
- World Famous DJ Tony Touch Disc will host a family dance party.
- WBGO’s Felix Hernandez will spin classic soul in Military Park from 1-2 p.m. with a Family Fun Rhythm Revue Dance Party that will also be broadcast live on WBGO 88.3 FM.
- The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO) will present the NJSO Brass Quartet, performing popular musical selections from around the world.
- Touch the Music will provide an Instrument Petting Zoo, which gives children an opportunity to touch and explore classical instruments.
- Boys & Girls Club of Newark will engage younger participants in Triple Play, a program accredited by Boys & Girls Clubs of America, which motivates youth in healthful, physically engaging activities.
- Poets from the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Program will provide a sampling of poetry that will be a prelude to the upcoming 2016 Dodge Poetry Festival. Additionally, throughout the day, Dodge Poets will invite the Newark community to contribute to a group poem about their hopes and wishes for their great city.
- The New Jersey Historical Society will host a scavenger hunt of historical sites within Military Park; each child successfully completing the scavenger hunt will win a prize to be determined.
- Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC) will provide a sand art table and small archival display on their social service and advocacy work in Newark. They will also bring African drummer Queen Mother Imakhu to perform and host a mini-class on drumming.
- Liberty Science Center will present their popular Science Circus for children in grades 1-8, a one-hour show that features thrilling experiments and engages volunteers from the audience.
- The Essex County Environmental Center will present Animal Tracks and Signs, a 45-minute program that explores the clues animals leave behind as they move on their path.
- Nai-Ni Chen Dance will present two fun-filled workshops that will teach participants how to make rainbows, waterfalls and ocean waves with ribbons and the fundaments of Chinese dance.
- GlassRoots will provide participants with a variety of "bracelet-making packets" that include various hand-made glass beads to create a bracelet.
- Simultaneously, an experienced flameworking artist will work with a 2-inch flame on a map gas torch to demonstrate how glass is malleable at 2000+ degrees and can be shaped into glass beads and small glass objects or sculptures.
- Floyd Little's Double Dutch Inc. will feature a freestyle exhibition routine followed by crowd participation.
- Hugh McMahon will perform pumpkin carving demos while his teaching assistants guide kids through their own creations using paint and pumpkins.
- The Newark Yoga Movement will offer free yoga sessions for those seeking a peaceful afternoon while the Afro Brazilian Arts & Education Academy will conduct a high energy, multi-discipline class, including capoeira and other Afro-Brazilian arts.
- Children will have an opportunity to challenge their agility, coordination, balance, speed and endurance on the Child's Play Challenge Course, a kid-friendly obstacle course.
- Carolyn Dorfman’s high energy dancers will blend contemporary style with a little African, house, hip hop and more.
- St. Benedict’s Prep will provide their Varsity Face-painters, clowns and drum line.
- Throughout the day, the historic Trinity and St. Philip’s Cathedral (at the north end of the Park) will be open to the public. Congregation members and staff will interact with interested neighbors about the variety of intergenerational music and drama programs at the Cathedral.