By John Burton
Parade, party and fireworks mark borough’s 100th
FAIR HAVEN – It was all beaming smiles and clear sunny skies, hot dogs, music and fun as the crowds poured into Fair Haven Fields on Saturday, June 16, to celebrate the borough’s centennial.
A parade, featuring the fire company and trucks, police in dress uniforms, bagpipers and drummers, along with numerous volunteers and local, county and state elected officials, made its way to the Ridge Road field for an afternoon of bands, beer, food and fun. The evening culminated with a fireworks display when the sun went down.
The parade began at 3 p.m. and within a half-hour a large crowd was already gathering at the field. Brennan’s Delicatessen, West River Road, Rumson, was assigned the task of feeding the hungry people. Brian Hans, Brennan’s executive chef, said he and his crew were preparing for about 2,500 people, and would cook about 1,500 pounds of hot dogs and hamburgers along a 96-foot grill. The cuisine was what he labeled “American barbecue,” and included corn on the cob, baked beans and other treats.
The tricky part was “the logistics,” Hans said. “Trying to figure out everything in case everyone comes to eat at once.”
Diane Kilzen, a Hance Road resident, and member of the Fair Haven Fire Department’s Ladies Auxiliary, wasn’t immediately thinking of food. She was too excited. “I asked if I could ride in the fire truck,” for the parade. “And I got it!” she practically yelled. “I was up there waving my American flag and I cried.
“This town is just hometown America at its best,” she said. “I’m so proud.”
One hundred years ago Fair Haven became incorporated as an independent borough after breaking away from what was then Shrewsbury Township.
But for those on hand for the celebration, it seemed the history wasn’t so much the focus as the current sense of pride in living what many said was a wonderful place to raise a family.
“It really is a great town to raise kids,” said David Hinton, who served as mayor from 1991-98.
Hinton moved to the borough in 1979 with his family, and has since relocated to Little Silver now that his kids are grown. But he was happy to be on hand. “We get to see a lot of people we don’t get to see that often,” he said.
“It’s always nice to come back to Fair Haven,” said Tom Gilmour, a former borough councilman, who now lives in Asbury Park where he serves as that city’s director of commerce and tourism. “It’s a special little town.”
Terry Simboli, president of the local garden club, was decked out in a flower-adorned hat and a colorful lei around her neck. She and other club members participated in the parade and she was ready to enjoy the rest of the day in her folding chair.
She has lived in Fair Haven for 30 years and loves the small-town feel. “That’s what’s so great about Fair Haven,” she said. “I can’t even talk about it, I get choked up.”
“Yea, centennial!” shouted Eric Hall, Church Street. Hall was there with his children, Amelia, 14 months, and Davis, 3. “We’re having fun and enjoying the good times,” Hall said, as his kids squirmed on a blanket. “They’re looking forward to the fireworks.”
“This is great. I wish they’d do this every year,” suggested Wade Davis, who was hanging out by the stage with his friend, Theresa Wolfe, as Brian Kirk and the Jirks, performed The Drifters’ classic Under the Boardwalk as a swarm of children danced and others swayed to the music.
Davis was thinking about getting some food. “We were just looking at the line,” running well out of the tent, as people queued. He scowled a little and decided he’d wait a bit, he said.
“It’s all good. It’s all fun,” said Joanne Wilkes, who was flipping burgers for Brennan’s, as she squinted through the smoke. “Another man overboard!” she yelled as a patty missed the grill and landed on the grass.
Theresa Casagrande, the borough administrator wearing a long floral print summer dress, looked up at the cloudless sky and asked, “Does God love Fair Haven or what?
“This is the kind of thing kids will remember for a long time,” she said.
“Everything is just perfect,” observed Mayor Benjamin Lucarelli, as a bunch of children ran by him, laughing and squealing.
The celebration has been in the planning for about the last 18 months, Lucarelli and others said, with the Foundation of Fair Haven working to raise the needed $50,000 in private donations and sponsorships to cover the cost.