Cool Down At New Essex County Watsessing Spray Park!

BY  |  Thursday, Jul 20, 2017 2:30pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Two playgrounds in Essex County Watsessing Park were completed today — just in time for kids to cook down during a week of hot wather. Water spray equipment was installed near Dodd Street and a cargo net climber and other new equipment have been installed at the play area near Prospect Street.

Standing in the Spray Park with Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. and children at the official opening are Essex County Chief of Staff Phil Alagia, Friends of Watsessing Park President Gouri Sadhwani, Bloomfield Councilman Carlos Pomares, Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia, Bloomfield Council members Nicholas Joanow and Ted Gamble, Freeholder President Britnee Timberlake, Freeholder Cynthia Toro and Essex County Parks Director Dan Salvante. The upgrades are part of the County Executive’s ongoing initiative to provide modern facilities to meet the needs of the community.

Photo: Essex County

Montclair Art Museum Receives Program Support From The Montclair Foundation

BY  |  Wednesday, Jul 19, 2017 2:45pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

The Montclair Art Museum (MAM) is grateful to The Montclair Foundation for its generous program support of ArtLink, a longstanding partnership between MAM and the Montclair Board of Education that invites students in grades 2 and 3 to explore the Museum and make connections to classroom themes, including storytelling and science.

ArtLink is a dynamic, integrative program linking Montclair students and teachers to the Museum. First, a MAM educator introduces relevant themes and art vocabulary in a pre-visit to the classroom, complemented by a comprehensive curriculum packet for further exploration. Then, students partake in a guided tour and inquiry-based conversation at the Museum, followed by a studio workshop where the children respond creatively to their experience. A staff development workshop at MAM for both classroom and art teachers further encourages the practice of making cross-curricular connections. Continue Reading

Day Trip: Sunrise Lake in Morris County

BY  |  Monday, Jul 17, 2017 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

New Jersey summers may focus on the Jersey Shore, but that’s not the only option for sunning, picnicking, and cooling off when the heat is on. The Garden State is home to many county and municipal lakes that are open to the public. One particularly kid-friendly lake is Sunrise Lake in Morris County, less than an hour’s drive from Montclair.

With plenty of free parking, including stroller/accessible paths to the beach, families can bring all the gear and supplies they need to make it a full day of beach and park time. Entrance fees are $6/$7 for adults (weekday/weekend) and $5/$6 for children ages 5-15 and Seniors 65+. Children 4 and under are free. Sunrise Lake is open summer Tuesdays through Sundays, but it also opens on Mondays if they fall on a holiday.

The facilities include restrooms, changing rooms, and showers as well as a deck with picnic tables for lunching away from the sand. The beach house has several benches in the shade for a break from the sun. There are grilling areas and more tables farther from the beach house, including a grassy area and a covered area. We saw families utilizing these with quite a full picnic spread!

While the water and the sand are probably enough to entertain children, there is also a water slide flume on a grassy hill (included in the entrance fee) that makes for all ages fun. For children 7 and older, a 5-minute swim proficiency test and $3 will get 30 minutes on the Wibit (pronounced Wih-bit, not Wee-bit, I discovered) for sliding and bouncing and jumping fun. Want to get in a workout before taking another dip in the lake? Rent a paddleboat for between $5-$7 to check out the other side of the lake where cyclists and geese use the space.

photo from the Morris County Park Facebook Page

Sunrise Lake has attentive lifeguards who will give swim tests and answer questions in addition to their life-preserving duties. Several Adirondack-style chairs are set up on the beach and by the water for public use. The beach is clean, the water is welcoming, and there was a friendly, casual, and diverse clientele when we visited. Despite the parking lot filling up over the day, the beach never felt crowded.

Shallow and deep sections are separated by a rope line. Adults can swim in any area, but children must take a basic swim test with crawl or breast stroke to enter the deep area.

As a summer boon to families with very young children, Sunrise Lake opens every Tuesday just for children four years or younger and their parents or caretakers. For a discounted price of $3 (children 4 and younger are always free), caretakers can enjoy early morning beach time from 9 AM to 10:45 AM at Tiny Tot Tuesdays. Older siblings are asked to come after Sunrise Lake opens for regular business hours. For more information, call the Sunrise Lake Beach Club Office at 973-267-4351.

There is still one more Campout On The Beach day this summer for families who want to get the most out of Sunrise Lake. A bonfire, s’mores, and games are included. Pre-registration and pre-payment is necessary. See information here.

Sunrise Lake Beach Club is part of the Lewis Morris Park. Weekday hours are 10 AM – 5:30 PM (except for July Tuesdays, which begin at 11 AM). Weekend hours are 11 AM – 6:30 PM. Check with the website for changes and updates. For driving directions, use 270 Mendham Road, Morris, NJ 07962.

For an additional New Jersey Day Trip idea, check out this past post about Round Valley Recreation Area.

Weekend Family Fun: Three Musketeers, Family Art Adventure, Ice Cream Sunday

BY  |  Friday, Jul 14, 2017 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

The weekend has arrived! There are so many fun things to do as a family in and around the area! We’ve rounded them up right here for you. Take a look!

Sweet Soles (255 Bellevue Avenue, Montclair) will celebrate its Grand Opening on Saturday from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Sweet Soles customized and proper shoe fittings for kids. Stop in for face painting, balloon-making, and “Sweet Ice Queen” Ice Cream Truck from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM.

Barnes & Noble at Clifton Commons (395 Route 3 East, Clifton) will host a Pig the Pug and Pig the Winner Storytime on Saturday at 11:00 AM. These stories follow Pig the Pug as he learns lessons and pals around with his friend Trevor. Quirky illustrations accompany these relatable stories. Activities to follow the story.

On Saturday, Montclair Art Museum (3 South Mountain Avenue, Montclair) will host their monthly Family Art Adventure from 2:00 PM to 2:30 PM. Explore and discuss artwork and participate in a hands-on project in the studio. This activity is for children ages 6-12 and their adult companions. Reservations are not required. Cost is $18 per family for non-members and $6 per family for members. Continue Reading

Operation Backpack: Fill A Backpack And Help A Child In Need

BY  |  Friday, Jul 14, 2017 7:12am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Operation Backpack is back again in Montclair this year. This year’s collection drive runs through August 4th. It’s Kimya Nilsen’s third year collecting backpacks in Montclair for this drive. The first year she collected 30 backpacks. Last year, she was able to donate 70 filled backpacks and more than $2000. This year’s goal is 100 backpacks and $3000.

Filled backpacks can be dropped off at the Park Street or Geyer branches of the Montclair YMCA (collection bins are in the lobby)
Monetary contributions can be made to the Montclair Team Crowdwise site.

Students in 12 Volunteer of America shelters in Northern New Jersey benefit from Operation Backpack.

How to Participate in Operation Backpack: Continue Reading

Kids Ride Free on The Hudson Loop – 10 Mile Biking & Walking Waterfront Exploration

BY  |  Wednesday, Jul 12, 2017 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Now through Labor Day, September 4, kids under 12 years old ride free on all NY Waterway ferries, including those serving The Hudson Loop walking and bike-riding trail.

The Hudson Loop offers bike-riders and walkers a 10-mile exploration of the two most exciting urban waterfronts in the nation, the West Side of Manhattan and the Hudson County waterfront in Weehawken, Hoboken and Jersey City, linked by NY Waterway ferries. Bike New York and the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition both support The Loop.

The Loop runs from Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan, north on the Hudson River Park walkway/bikeway to the West 39th Street Ferry Terminal, where service is available to Port Imperial in Weehawken. NY Waterway ferries run every 10 minutes during weekday rush hour and every 20 minutes off-peak, seven days a week. The crossing to Port Imperial takes eight minutes.

The Hudson Loop continues south on the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway through Weehawken, Hoboken and Jersey City to the Paulus Hook Ferry Terminal where NY Waterway ferry service runs seven days a week, making a six-minute crossing to the Brookfield Place/ Battery Park City Ferry Terminal. Continue Reading

Montclair BOE: Changes To Sex Education, Superintendent Search, And Where To Hold MHS Graduation 2018

BY  |  Tuesday, Jul 11, 2017 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Montclair Board of Education spent most of the afternoon of July 10 working on goals and objectives for the 2017-18 school year – which it plans to expand on in greater detail in a board of governance meeting in a seven-hour meeting at the Charles Bullock Elementary School beginning at 8:30 A.M. on Saturday, July 22 – and went into executive session before opening the evening meeting to the public.  Despite the six hours the board members spent going over the coming school year, they managed to go through several topics in the evening meeting.  It was well-attended despite the summer season.

Interim Superintendent Barbara Pinsak opened the meeting with good news, declaring that the Bullock School was no longer a Focus school, meaning that the school had improved its performance under the watchful of the New Jersey Department of Education and the state was no longer giving it a demerit for poor performance. To the delight of the residents, Superintendent Pinsak said Bullock’s performance had improved to the level that had been set when the school was placed on the Focus list.  She also announced the hiring of Emilio DeAndre as the district’s new business administrator, meaning that Steve DiGeromino was overseeing his last meeting on this night.  Several board members thanked DiGeronimo for his service, and he said he was gratified and found his temporary service.  Board member Joseph Kavesh, who praised DiGeronimo for his leadership in the contentious crafting of the recent school budget, declared that interim officers in the district should be honored, not disparaged, for serving, adding that they serve with distinction.

“Inconsistencies” in Montclair Schools Sex Education

Dr. Debbie Evans, who will soon step down as the district’s interim director of elementary education, gave a presentation for the board about health and physical education with an emphasis on sexual education.  She said that sex education had not been clearly defined for the district, and she added that there had been several inconsistencies in the teaching of the subject.  She also noted the parallel inconsistency of sex-ed class sizes, with some schools having up to 70 students per class, and she recommended a maximum of 30 students as an ideal number.

Dr. Evans informed the board that she has a sexuality curriculum draft worked out with the teaching staff from different schools, which she is asking the board to approve.  She sid it can go forward on a trial basis and be tweaked and revised by spring.  Bianca Brown, a physical-education teacher in the district, told the board that it was important to teach students about sexuality to give them correct information about the subject rather than have them learn it outside the schools.  Dr. Evans had wanted to present her findings on a PowerPoint slide show, but there were technical difficulties; she said it would be on the district’s Web site.

Physical-education teacher Bianca Brown

More Than 50 Applicants Interested in Montclair Schools Superintendent Position

Also, the board heard from Bill Adams and Judy Ferguson of Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, the firm helping the district find a permanent superintendent, on the renewal of the search.  Dr. Ferguson, who presented herself as a lifelong educator with experience as a business administrator and has helped in 32 searches for superintendents in other districts, and Dr. Adams reported that there are as many as 54 applicants for the position, with 36 of those applications completed,.  Applciants have been informed that Montclair school district is seeking to have someone start in the position in time for the 2018-19 school year and advised them to remove their applications if they will not or cannot wait that long to start the job.  Drs. Adams and Ferguson hope to screen applicants by early November and present finalists for the post in December, with a hire son after the winter holidays. Board member Anne Mernin feared that the proximity of the schedule to the holidays was too tight, but the two search consultants said the search calendar could be adjusted.

Board President Laura Hertzog had announced at the board’s June 19 meeting that the district was looking to have a permanent superintendent start in time for the 2018-19 school year, and she sought to dispel the commonly held belief that the search has been going on for three years (Dr. Penny MacCormack actually resigned as schools superintendent in April 2015, two years and three months earlier as of July 2017).  Hertzog said the search had been begun in the fall of 2016, but it had not worked out; the current search is a new effort.

In public comment, the main topic was the tracking of less academically accomplished students at Renaissance School.  Several residents said that tracking and segregating such students violated the spirit of equal education and contradicted the mission of Renaissance School to provide a more enriching middle-school experience.  Michelle Fine recalled the success in getting the school up and running, with its sense of community and its more challenging, motivating course work.  She feared that tracking students was like pulling at a thread that could cause the whole Renaissance experiment to disintegrate.  Zachary Herring and his mother, Kate Greenfield, testified to Renaissance’s success in getting Herring to succeed at academics and go to Harvard. Herring also said that, given that many students that would be “tracked” are black and Hispanic owing to the achievement gap, institutionalizing re-segregation and threatening racial and economic diversity in the schools.

Montclair High School student Noah Gale, bringing up the amphitheater graduation ceremony at the High School, said he hoped the ceremony for his class, 2018, will be held elsewhere to accommodate more students, but resident Latifah Jannah said the amphitheater graduation ceremonies allowed people of different ethnic and economic backgrounds to celebrate together and preserve tradition; she suggested that there might be a way to accommodate more people at future ceremonies.  Meanwhile, Abraham Dickerson reiterated his call for healthier food in the school lunch program. 

Superhero Summer Club with S.O.F.I.A. at Brookdale Park

BY  |  Monday, Jul 10, 2017 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (0)

The Superhero Summer Club will bring children in the community together with fun, team building, superhero themed activities. The activities, facilitated by the Superhero Summer Club Volunteer Team, will promote positive interactions with peers, healthy self-esteem, and social skills. Every child is a superhero!

When: Sunday, July 30 & Sunday, August 27, 2017; 1:30-3:00 p.m.
Where: The Children’s Playground, Brookdale Park, Montclair-Grove St.entrance
Who: Children ages 6-12 years. Caregivers must be present for the entire session. Participation is encouraged.
Cost: FREE! Pre-registration is required. Register via email

Please bring a water bottle, sunscreen, and bug spray. This event is organized by S.O.F.I.A.

Scholastic Summer Reading Pop-up Book Festival, Tuesday, July 11th

BY  |  Sunday, Jul 09, 2017 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Get ready! Scholastic Summer Reading Pop-up Book Festival is this Tuesday, July 11th, 4-6pm, at Watchung Booksellers.

Kids and families will have the opportunity to participate in their very own “pop-up” reading festival, meet some of their favorite authors, and engage in fun reading activities.

Who is coming? Max Bralllier (aka Jack Chabert), Kristy Caldwell, Jay Cooper, Pepper Springfield and Joyce Wan.

What will be going on? An activity tent filled with reading activities. Giveaway tables and a prize wheel. Visits from Clifford the Big Red Dog and Geronimo Stilton!

Weekend Family Highlights: Maplewoodstock, Walking Tour, Full Moon Hike, MOMIX and More

BY  |  Friday, Jul 07, 2017 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Happy Weekend! There is so much to do around town and beyond, and we’ve gathered some of the best family-friendly events right here for you. Check ‘em out!

Children and their families are invited to enjoy free Bastille Day-Themed Activities for Kids on Saturday at FIAF Montclair. Kids will create their own lampion du 14 juillet (Bastille Day lantern), enjoy story time in French and English, explore a French Book Fair, discover FIAF Montclair’s brand new French Library, and much more! Plus, each child will be entered into a complimentary prize drawing for a chance to win a free French class at FIAF!

Barnes & Noble at Clifton Commons (395 Route 3 East, Clifton) will host a Little Excavator Storytime on Saturday at 11:00 AM. This new book from New York Times bestselling author-illustrator of the Llama Llama series Anna Dewdney is sure to please! Little Excavator joins Loader, Dump Truck, Backhoe, and Crane as they get ready to transform a vacant lot into a neighborhood park. Activities to follow the story.

Maplewoodstock, a music and art festival, will be held on Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 PM to 9:00 PM at Memorial Park (580 Valley Street, Maplewood). This event will feature music from a variety of bands including Saturday’s headliner, Los Lobos. New this year, there will be sign language interpreters for some performances. Local artists and merchants will be displaying their work and selling merchandise. Montclair’s own Lotus & Bug will be on hand selling infant and kids clothing at up to 50% off! There will be plenty of food vendors and a Kid Zone with fun things like bouncy rides, face painting, arts and crafts, and ice cream! For more information, including a line-up of performances, visit the website.

Get The ‘Buzz’ On Bugs on Saturday at 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM at Fosterfields Living Historical Farm (73 Kahdena Road, Morris Township). Get acquainted with the good and bad insects found on the farm. Cost is $6 per adult, $5 per senior, $4 per child age 4-16, $2 per child age 2 & 3, and free for children under age 2. Continue Reading

Featured Comment

Yummy list. I like Ray's.

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