Arts & Entertainment

West Orange Street Fair Brings Good Old-Fashioned Fun to Downtown

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Eternal Frontier performers Prof. Adam Smasher and Baron Van Zipple join Sheila Parisi, Susan Anderson, Tammy Williams, Mayor Robert Parisi, Josie Velez and Deputy Mayor Zal Velez. Credits: Alan Grossman
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Members of Integrated Martial Arts perform. Credits: Alan Grossman
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The Fair featured its largest classic car show ever. Credits: Alan Grossman
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Young and old enjoy marching with the robot street performer. Credits: Alan Grossman
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The Arrowhead Band performs traditional New Orleans jazz on the Edison Museum’s main stage. Credits: Alan Grossman
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Kids enjoy the rides at the Street Fair. Credits: Alan Grossman
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Trombonist Bob Ferrel and researcher David Giovannoni demonstrate how recordings were made on Martinville’s phonautograph. Credits: Alan Grossman
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WEST ORANGE, NJ – The 13th annual West Orange Street Fair on Saturday provided a full day of fun for the entire family with food and crafts provided more than 100 local vendors, a classic car show, music to suit every taste and fun rides for the kids.

The day also celebrated both new and old technologies, with seven-foot robot street performers marching past the Edison Museum, where much of the modern technological world began.

“The Street Fair is a highly anticipated annual event that grows bigger every year,” said West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi. “It’s a great day, now celebrating its 13th anniversary. This year the event has taken on even more meaning as its being held in the shadow of the new development taking place at the Edison Battery Factory building.”

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The fair was presented by the Downtown West Orange Alliance (DWOA), the West Orange Public Relations Commission, the West Orange Chamber of Commerce in association with the Thomas Edison National Historic Park and its Thomas Edison Day.

“There were many new features to the fair this year, including the street performer robots that the kids loved meeting, the steam punk band Eternal Flame, the participation of the Red Bulls soccer team, and our largest classic car show ever, featuring 70 cars,” said Megan Brill, executive director of DWOA.

Main Street was filled with more than 100 vendors, including tables featuring many non-profit agencies doing good work in the community. Deputy Mayor Zal Velez manned the Public Relations Commission table, which featured a free raffle to win dinner for two at the Manor, a one-night stay at the Marriott in West Orange, or a one-night stay at the Wilshire Grand Hotel.

“It is great that we can offer a free raffle for these wonderful prizes today,” said Velez. “This just adds to the fun of the day.”

Foods from throughout the world were featured, from empanadas to gyros, ice cream to funnel cakes, sausage and pepper to spinach pie. After a bite to eat, people could also enjoy beverages at the beer and wine garden.

The Edison National Historical Park pulled out all the stops for is Edison Day celebration. Park rangers were on hand throughout the museum to guide people through the fascinating history of Edison’s inventions.

One of the most widely attended presentations was the one demonstrating how to make recordings on a phonautograph invented by Leon Scott de Martinville and Edison’s tinfoil phonograph.

Researcher David Giovannoni led this demonstration with the help of trombonist Bob Ferrel. Several of the children in the audience were called up to make their own recordings on one of Edison’s original phonographs and smiled when they heard back their voices from the tinfoil that was used to first record sound.

“It was like magic to the people living back then,” said Giovannoni, who handed out tinfoil to the crowd to give them a better understanding of how it worked. “Not only could they hear their own voices recorded and played back for the first time, but Edison could also slow down or speed up sound, or have one voice going over another voice. People were amazed by this invention.”

Music was a big part of the day on the main stage at the Edison Museum. People who attended in the mid-afternoon heard the Arrowhead Band perform traditional New Orleans jazz and R&B selections from the Great American Songbook.

Right outside the Edison Museum was an area where kids enjoyed a parachute ride, blow-up houses, and more. Overall, organizers said it was another successful Street Fair that showcased the best of what West Orange has to offer.

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