ROSELLE PARK, NJ - After an SUV went crashing through the building of Joe & Jodi’s Barber Shop on Saturday evening, many have come to the rescue to temporarily fix the damage.
It was right after closing time on Saturday when owner Jodi Bellomo heard a loud crash. Running downstairs to the street, she found that an SUV had crashed through the windows of their family business. The windows weren't the extent of the damage – as they looked closer they found some structural issues as well. This coming at the start of the holiday season which is the busiest time of the year for her business.
Roselle Park police and firefighters were on the scene immediately along with Mayor Carl Hokanson, who happened to be across the street at Dowling’s Pub at the time for fundraiser. Hokanson left the event to respond to the scene and provide assistance.
“With this being the busiest time of the year, my worry was that my business would be like an abandoned building, all boarded up and closed," Bellomo said. "I mentioned to my friend Joe DeIorio, who spoke with Gina Parducci-Cesaro from Art and Soul Galleries to do a mural on the boards, which in turn started a chain of events that represents the true spirit of Christmas."
“I think this is outstanding," said Mayor Hokanson, “The people in this town took what should have been a tragedy for a business, happening during the holidays, and have turned it into triumph. We were lucky that no one was hurt and what has been done is just beautiful.”
This wasn’t the first time the barbershop had experienced hardship. In 1994, their business was devastated by a fire that forced them to relocate their business for over a year.
“When I heard what happened, I felt like I just had help,” said Gina Parducci-Cesaro who in addition to the art gallery is also an art teacher at Robert Gordon School in Roselle Park. “This is a community that cares. When someone needs help, we all jump in and do our part.”
“We want the community to enjoy the artwork and make it fun and festive," said Jenny Binaghi Lichtenwalner who worked on the lettering on the mural. Lichtenwalner, is the owner of Charlie Thyme from Roselle Park.
“This is a perfect example of neighbors helping neighbors and using art to lift up a community’s spirits,” said Joe DeIorio, executive Director for Roselle Park 24/7. “When put to the test, our community can turn lemons into lemonade. It's what make Roselle Park, Roselle Park.”
“My vision was no where near as beautiful as it looks," said Bellomo. “More beautiful than that, was the love and unity of the community in our time of need and I thank them all from the bottom of my heart.“
The mural has also turned to a selfie station for passersby. Their goal is to reach 210 selfies, to match their address, 210 Chestnut Street, in front of the mural by the end of the year. Bellomo is encouraging everyone to come a take a selfie in front of the artwork with the hashtag #merrychristmasrp and post the photo on their Instagram account or as a comment on the Positively Roselle Park Facebook page. The selfie with the most “likes” will win a gift from Charlie Thyme for both social media apps.
“We have been in business here for 60 years. I am blessed to live in a community that is like a family to me,” said Bellomo. “Roselle Park is more than a town, it is my home. When a catastrophe happens everyone pulls together.”
Joe & Jodi's is also a drop off point for the Roselle Park 24/7 Toys for Kids program to collect toys for the Children's Specialized Hospital of Roselle Park. They are asking everyone to please help by dropping off an unwrapped toy.
Other businesses that contributed:
Park Glass who immediately came out to secure the building
Gina Parducci-Cesaro from Art & Soul Galleries
Jenny Binaghi Lichtenwalner of Charlie Thyme