Paterson Top Stories

Cash-Strapped City Cancels Annual Labor Day Weekend Festival at the Great Falls

1c6ac86803bf2ff8dd9e_greatfalls.jpg
1c6ac86803bf2ff8dd9e_greatfalls.jpg

PATERSON, NJ – Last year, historic flooding forced the cancelation of Paterson’s annual Great Falls Festival. This year, a rising tide of red ink is the culprit.

In the latest instance in which fiscal constraints have dealt a blow to Paterson’s plans for a community celebration, city officials have canceled the three-day Labor Day weekend event that organizers say has drawn as many as 70,000 people in some years.

Instead, officials are trying to organize an “Autumn Fest” during Columbus Day weekend, but only if they can arrange enough financing - including private donations - to offset the city’s costs.

Sign Up for E-News

Normally, the city provides a $25,000 stipend, plus another $90,000 to $120,000 in “in-kind” contributions through the assignment of police, fire and public works personnel to the festival, said Jamie Dykes, chairman of Celebrate Paterson, the nonprofit group that has run the event for the past decade.

But Paterson has been under increasing pressure from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs to cut spending on celebrations and events, a crackdown that has resulted in earlier cancelations this year of the city’s Mother’s Day Breakfast and its Memorial Day Kickoff Celebration. Also, the city had to stop providing refreshments for National Night Out block parties.

Officials said they realized the state would not allow the city to invest so much money in the Great Falls Festival. Moreover, Mayor Jeffrey Jones said, the city itself cannot afford to shoulder such a sizeable financial burden.

“No one in their right mind wants to do an event that loses money, especially when the taxpayers are involved,’’ said Jones. “We’re trying to develop a new format where we can get everything we want – the fun and entertainment – without using the tax dollars.’’

“If we can’t get the people to buy in, we won’t do it,’’ said Jones.

Officials said the Paterson Municipal Utilities Authority likely will hold a three-day Labor Day weekend concert at Overlook Park to give folks something to do in the city in light of the cancelation of the Great Falls festival.

Also, the Ivanhoe Artists have joined with other cultural groups to organize what they’re calling the Great Falls Arts Festival on Sept. 1 and 2 at 70 Spruce Street. That event will feature performances by Rock, Latin and Hip Hop performers, art exhibitions and vendors. But folks will be asked to pay a $12 “donation” at the door.

Dykes said that one of the things the annual Great Falls festival prided itself on was the fact that people of all income levels could enjoy the free entertainment.

Over the years, the festival has featured performances by world-renowned high-wire acts.  Months, after walking a tightrope between the Twin Towers in 1974, Phillippe Petit crossed the Great Falls on a wire. One year, a performer walked a tightrope suspended from helicopters, Dykes said.  Also, the Wallenda family has appeared.

Over the years, the festival has featured such attractions as hot-air balloon rides, amateur boxing, midget-car performers and circus animals. Rides, music and food have been annual staples.

The Great Falls festival started in the late 1960s when Lawrence “Pat” Kramer was mayor. “I’m proud that it started with us, but it has continued through a number of other administrations,’’ Kramer said. “It’s been very popular over the weeks and it was good for the kids of Paterson.’’

Kramer said he was sorry to see the event canceled this year, but he added that he understood the situation. “The mayor and council have their reasons,’’ he said. “If they don’t have the money, they don’t have the money.’’

Over the years, Kramer said he believed the festival drew attention to the wonders of the Great Falls and helped build momentum for its designation as a national park. He said the festival was held on Labor Day weekend to tie in with the city’s legacy as the birthplace of the America labor movement.

In fact, the annual Labor Day parade that starts at the American Labor Museum in Hawthorne traditionally ends at the Great Falls and spills into the festival.

City officials are not sure whether they will be able to pull off the proposed Autumn Fest in October. Dykes said the city’s Urban Enterprise Zone director is soliciting donations. He said he was not sure exactly how much needed to be raised for the event to occur.

Moreover, Dykes said, the city has asked labor unions and officials in its police, fire and public works departments whether they can make adjustments that can contain the costs of the festival.

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Paterson

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_3f27a97645e7103f9868_flyer__courthouse_plaza_programs_2018-page-001

Tue, July 24, 11:00 AM

Paterson Courthouse Plaza, Paterson

Tuesdays in the Plaza

Carousel_image_efec3d39ddc6008dd11e_4a256201-8c0a-450c-b62e-8a761d6f5b83

Thu, July 26, 6:00 PM

Vreeland Ave. Park, Paterson

Occupy Vreeland Ave. Park

Arts & Entertainment Community Calendar

Carousel_image_3f27a97645e7103f9868_flyer__courthouse_plaza_programs_2018-page-001

Tue, July 31, 11:00 AM

Paterson Courthouse Plaza, Paterson

Tuesdays in the Plaza

Readers Says Let Developer Bring Paterson Back

July 13, 2018

Dear Editor: 

It is no secret that Paterson is in dire need of revitalizing, restructuring, rebuilding, and, quite frankly, rebranding. As a city, we have struggled to pay our municipal debt, to reduce crime substantially, to create sustainable employment opportunities for our youth and to provide assistance for our city’s most vulnerable residents. 

Today, we face an uphill ...

Murphy Administration Takes Action to Help Smokers Quit

July 19, 2018

Eliminates Prior Approval for Medicaid Tobacco Cessation Medications; Counseling Options to be Expanded

July 16, 2018

(TRENTON) – The Murphy administration on Monday announced new steps to help New Jersey Medicaid recipients quit using tobacco by making it easier to receive tobacco cessation medications and counseling.

“Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death ...

Pascrell, Renacci, Senators Celebrate House Approval of Congressional Gold Medal to Baseball Pioneer Larry Doby

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and Jim Renacci (R-OH-16) hailed the passage in the House of Representatives of H.R. 1861, the Larry Doby Congressional Gold Medal Act. The legislation awards the Congressional Gold Medal to the late baseball star, Larry Doby, who broke the American League’s color barrier in 1947.

“A proud ...

Newark Lures Amazon With $1 Billion Payroll Tax Incentive

July 12, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - Amazon will get a payroll tax break at a cost of $1 billion to the city should the company open its second headquarters here.

It’s one of two ordinances that were approved by the Newark City Council council to sweeten the deal for the corporate giant and stand out among other locations vying for Amazon’s so-called HQ2.

“The City Council has brought Newark a ...

Big Plans for Small Park in Newark’s North Ward

NEWARK, NJ- An under-utilized pocket park on Mt. Prospect Avenue in Newark’s North Ward has become a symbol of what can be accomplished in neighborhoods throughout the city through effective public-private partnerships. 

The park’s supporters have big plans for the public space, located directly across the street from the busy North Ward Center, located in an historic ...

I'm Sorry Mr. Jackson... I Am For Real

July 8, 2018

Hello again, Paterson. 

So much has changed since the last time I’ve written… as I’d hoped, Andre Sayegh is our new mayor and it seems an exciting new dawn is upon us. I think when any change comes, especially one as major as this, there is an opportunity for reflection as well as for hope. This election taught me quite a bit, seeing some of the best and worst sides of ...

RU Ready for Rutgers Football? Tickets on Sale

July 18, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - There's a lot of promotions planned this fall as part of the Rutgers football season.

Single game tickets go on sale Thursday, July 12, with seven home games. There's matchups against Big Ten East opponents Michigan and Penn State, and a first-time cross divisional meeting with Northwestern.

If football is not your thing, there's plenty ...

Westfield to Hold 3-Day ‘AddamsFest’ Celebrating Charles Addams and His Creations This Fall

WESTFIELD, NJ — It’s creepy. It’s kooky. And it’s taking over Westfield from Oct 26 to 28. AddamsFest, a town-wide celebration honoring Westfield native Charles Addams and his most famous creations, The Addams Family, will be a destination event this fall with family-friendly activities, lectures, exhibits and film screenings, the town announced Thursday.

Watch the ...

Belmar Parasail: Soar Into Summer with a High-Flying Adventure Along the Beachfront

BELMAR, NJ — As Belmar finally basks in picture-perfect weather, it may be time to check off a summer activity on your bucket list. And for many, parasailing is one of those “must-do” experiences.

At Belmar Parasail, the season is in full swing, offering boat trips from the Belmar Manutti Marina to the beachfront where passengers are lifted 500 feet above the Atlantic Ocean ...