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Mixed Feelings Abound Regarding 'Big Dig Sunday,' Following 'Snowy Saturday'

West Orange mom Courtne Jones and her children: Chase, 7, Dash, 8, Camden, 3, and Logan, 4, spend time sledding on Sunday. Credits: W. L. Bill Allen, Jr.
June Smith II, on the right, and his nephew Kyle Green, on the left, spend time shoveling on Sunday. Credits: W. L. Bill Allen, Jr.
The Armstrong family digs out on Sunday. Credits: W. L. Bill Allen, Jr.

WEST ORANGE, NJ - While this weekend's wicked weather may—or may not—have brought the largest snow storm in West Orange area history, one thing is clear, ‘Snowy Saturday’ did deliver overwhelming amounts of the frozen precipitation to the area... and locals had mixed feelings on the situation.

Among those most content, though, had to be the township's approximately 10,000 youngsters, who were able to enjoy a sunny Sunday that saw sledding and ski-boarding aplenty in myriad locations across the township, to go along with thousands of snow angels and snowmen/snow sculptures dotting front yards seemingly everywhere.

Added to those outdoor activities was the fact that the 11 West Orange Public Schools were closed on Monday, as, according to a source at the West Orange Board of Education, “Even though the DPW did a great job of clearing the vast majority of streets in the township, there were still some streets that were not completely plowed and, with the number of buses that we need, it simply made sense to not have schools open on Monday.”

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As a result, in an apparent abundance of caution, the township's approximately 7,300 public school students had a snow day on Monday.

There are four snow days built into the WOBOE calendar. All four were used last year and this was the first to be used during the 2015-16 slate. Another snow day will be used for Tuesday, as Superintendent Jeff Rutzky announced on Monday evening that all public schools will be closed on Jan. 26. He also said that all school activities will be canceled too.

So, while the kids were pleased with the snow—there is the other side of the coin for the adults who had to move the mounds of white stuff.

“To put it simply, it sucks,” June Smith II, a member of the Seton Hall Prep Class of 1975 and a 1979 graduate of Seton Hall University, said straight forwardly, as he and his nephew Kyle Green worked for hours to clear his Gregory Avenue property.

“We dodged a bullet, but we got a lot more (snow) than I expected...a lot more,” he said. “What I mean is that the lights stayed on, the heat stayed on. We did lose one of our trees, but that wasn't a big deal.”

He added, “I guess I should have tried to do some of this during the storm on Saturday. But I just figured 'Hey, I'll do this all at once.' That was big mistake. Now, I'm paying for it and I'm just glad that Kyle is helping.”

Smith's nephew, Green, a member of the WOHS Class of 2015, emphasized the fact he hates shoveling.

He said, “I didn't know it was going to be like this, but I guess it could've been worse. Coming out on the second day and doing all this?”

“Snow, I hate it, but I do wish we had started on Saturday, instead of doing all this at once,” Green added.

A former Mountaineers halfback and free safety, Green, who now attends Kean University, where he is studying to become an athletic trainer, said he was thankful for his athletics background.

“I'll tell you this, if not for being a football player, I probably would've busted my butt a couple of times by now from falling down,” he stated.

As Green said those words, his snow shovel broke with a loud bang.

“Wow, if I hadn't been a football player, that might've been my arm, instead of the shovel,” he said.

Just down the street, in the midst of a sledding session on the hill behind the Gregory School with her four youngsters: Chase, 7, Dash, 8, Camden, 3, and Logan, 4, Courtne Jones said, “It did take about two hours to get our car back on the street, but, overall, it's been a lot of fun. The kids got to go sledding and make their first snowman of the year, so, in that respect, it's a good thing.”

Perhaps the members of the Armstrong Family, Rumold, Jarian and Inga, of Pleasant Valley Way, summed things up best when they took just a moment to be photographed, before Jarain, a 1999 Montclair High alum, cut the image session short by saying, “Hey, thanks a lot, but we really have to get going and get all this shoveling done and over with.”

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