FAIRFIELD, NJ — Despite the heat wave that hit northern New Jersey, the Fairfield Independence Day celebration in the new recreation parking lot on Monday was humming with activity once the sun set.
Anthony Pompei, recreation director, began the event by thanking the mayor and council, the police department and all those who helped to organize and work the celebration. Fairfield Mayor James Gasparini thanked Pompei for coordinating the event and thanked the Calandra family for sponsoring the fireworks year after year. He also encouraged everyone to patronize the Calandra’s bakery.
Other dignitaries present included Council President John LaForgia and Councilmen Joseph Cifelli and Michael McGlynn.
Fairfield residents Cathy Alvarado, Lisa Giuffre, and Cira Graceffo said they specifically came for the food trucks; Samantha and Ashley Zisa and Amanda Barra, rising juniors at West Essex High School, came to see the fireworks; and Fairfield residents Krista Loeffler and Drew Des Met said they come every year for the whole celebration.
“It’s the best night ever,” said Des Met.
Members of the crowd said that the fireworks display was as great as ever, and possibly even better than last year’s show.
The daytime crowd was entertained by the Belle Tones, an all-women singing group that was invited to sing in town for the first time on Monday.
Mayor Gasparini introduced the eight-year-old group as “the modern-day Andrew Sisters.” Like the Andrew Sisters, the group has one blonde, one brunette and one redhead. Singing on Monday were Amy Evans, the blonde, Gloria Carpenter, the brunette, and Laura Turk Lee, the redhead. Carpenter was substituting for Fairfield resident Katherine Guantez, who could not attend.
In addition to singing the National Anthem and other patriotic songs that paid tribute to servicemen and women, the group also sang Americana, country and some oldies, including songs by The Andrew Sisters, The McGuire Sisters, Teresa Brewer, Shirelles, Supremes and Martha and the Vandellas.
Phaon Smith, a Pennsylvania resident, came all the way to Fairfield just to hear the group sing, he said. He has been following the Belle Tones all over the country for the last two years.
“They are a great group, and I enjoy them,” said Smith, whom the group calls “Uncle Phaon” and say he is “the sweetest gentleman.”
Also performing on Monday were The Cameos, an oldies cover band that performs music from the 50s and 60s. The eight-member band features a female saxophone player and has been together for 11 years, averaging about 110 shows a year in all types of venues.
In addition to an upbeat concert, the band had a little friendly competition between Fairfield and East Hanover. After recently performing in East Hanover, the members challenged Fairfield children to come up and do a better “Twist” twist than their neighbors.
Families laughed and smiled as they danced together throughout the night.