In a recent study by the website Niche.com, Chatham Borough was ranked as the #3 Best Suburb to Raise a Family in New Jersey. It was also the top rated suburban town in Morris County. Niche.com rated the communities based on a variety of criteria, including age demographics, school ratings, crime rates, and access to affordable housing, child care, libraries, and grocery stores. High ranks indicate that a town attracts young families who are looking for good schools and a safe environment in which to raise children.
Many factors contributed to Chatham’s high ranking on Niche’s list. The borough is just a short train ride to New York City and the surrounding New Jersey metropolitan area, making it an ideal home for commuters. But excellent transportation to other destinations doesn’t take away from Chatham’s own special appeal as a quaint, entertaining town for citizens of all ages. Downtown is bustling with small businesses for parents and their kids. Walk down the main street to find a knitting store, a jewelers, independent pharmacy, clothing stores, cleaners, a toy store, a sports store, multiple restaurants and a specialty bakery, just to list a few. One Chatham resident on the Niche.com website said, “I can get everything I need within 5 minutes of my house.”
Chatham received such high rankings on Niche’s list because of its high home values (the average home cost being $705,800), very high rent costs, and low unemployment rates. Its citizens are generally highly educated, with 42% of residents earning a bachelor’s degree and 33% receiving a master’s degree or higher. Citizens also receive high income, with the median household income at $146,083.
It’s summer, which means, it’s ice cream season! And what better way to celebrate than to take a trip to the New Providence’s own Zita’s Ice Cream and Italian Ice! This small, unassuming ice cream shop opened its doors to the neighborhood 15 years ago. Back then Zita’s offered just a few flavors and was lucky if it sold six ice cream cakes in a weekend. Today, the business is thriving, churning out dozens of new flavors and selling 80 ice cream cakes on a normal weekend.
To founder and owner Peter Elefante, ice cream is not just a job—it’s a passion.
“Even though Zita’s is now 15 years old, I’m only at the beginning…I want Zita’s to be one of those places that’s around for 50 years, where people who have moved away have to stop by to get their ice cream fix whenever they are nearby,” Elefante said.
What sets Zita’s apart from the hoard of ice cream shops in New Jersey is its owner’s passion for the product, which extends to its production. All of Zita’s ice cream is made on the premises, in the small back kitchen. This ice cream is homemade in the truest sense. “And we only use the highest quality of ingredients,” says Elefante, “from fresh bananas in our Kong ice cream to fresh strawberries in our Strawberry.”
Elefante plans to do more wholesale to restaurants, hotels, and other ice cream stores. To meet this demand, Zita’s will have to produce more ice cream, which means they will need more space to make it. Soon, the little shop will undergo a renovation of the back kitchen, to create more room for freezers and production facilities.
For many years, the shop has participated in New Jersey’s Ice Cream Festival, winning first place for its smores flavor in 2010. Zita’s switches its flavors seasonally – some current options are peach, key lime pie, and chocolate covered strawberry. After a ten year hiatus, the very popular Devil Dog has also returned to the menu. Some new flavors include Ice Cream Cake (the Zita’s ice cream cake as a ice cream flavor); Cookie Monster (vanilla ice cream with Nutter Butters, Ores, and chocolate chip cookies); and the Dirty Turtle (caramel turtles, vanilla ice cream, cake crunch, and fudge).
A New Providence native, Elefante is excited that have built a booming business in his hometown. “We pride ourselves in giving back to the community which has given so much to us,” Elefante said.
For the first time ever, South Orange has been selected as a 2015 Playful City USA! National non-profit KaBOOM! is partnering up with the Humana Foundation to recognize and honor cities, towns, and counties throughout the nation that are fun to play in. It’s no surprise South Orange is considered one of these playable hotspots – with exciting events from the annual PlayDay to the Two Towns Triathalon, this little town provides big fun for all!
“We are so proud to be recognized for our excellent recreation programs and community participation in related activities. As South Orange is well known as a commuter town and first suburb, it is very important that our children have plenty of opportunity to stay physically active and enjoy playful games, with fields and playgrounds available in every neighborhood,” says Trustee Steve Schnall.
With mandated neighborhood play spaces, city-wide play days, structured recess programs, mobile recreation vehicles, and even hopscotch sidewalks, South Orange is no boring, regular town – it’s a playground!
According to KaBOOM! founder President James Siegal, playability “is crucial to the success of our future communities, and we are proud of the work these cities and leaders are doing to provide a better quality of life for all residents, and especially families. Play provides a competitive advantage for cities looking to attract and retain residents. With these esteemed leaders, and our friends and partners across the country, we continue to prioritize play for all kids.”
To see the full list od the 241 communities named 2015 Playful City USA honorees, or to discover more about the Playful City program, visit www.playfulcityUSA.org. Playful City also encourages you to take part in the conversation on #playability on Twitter and Facebook.
KaBOOM! is a national non-profit dedicated to providing children –especially those growing up in poverty in America- the childhood they deserve filled with balanced, fun, and active play. Since 1996, KaBOOM! has collaborated with partners to build, open, and improve nearly 16,300 playgrounds, engaged more than one million volunteers, and served 8.1 million children.
On June 26 -28, Renowned New York City blues musician Tomas Doncker brought his magic to South Orange with the launch of the first ever South by South Orange Festival. Presented by South Orange Village and Seton Hall University, South by South Orange showcased 12 creative and interactive sessions, 15 musical performances and a “Creative Midway” of special participatory happening and community art projects. Hundreds of South Orange residents of all ages turned up to celebrate and enjoy the music.
Doncker launched the festival in celebration of the release of his new album “Big Apple Blues,” which he wrote in collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yosef Komunyakaa. At the festival, Doncker performed with his band, True Groove All-Stars, which includes Josh David (current frontman of the Wailers) and renowned violinist Alan Grubner.
In the early 1980’s, Doncker was an integral member of New York City’s downtown “no wave” scene, and began playing guitar with bands such as James Chance and the Contortions, Defunkt, J. Walter Negro and the Loose Jointz and others. He eventually produced sessions with Yoko Ono, Bootsy Collins, the Itals and Prince Charles Alexander.
This year’s festival theme was “Creative Collisions,” which aimed to display the many ways in which our fragmentary lives converge and intersect through the collaboration and unification of creative processes.
‘Creative Collisions’ is a natural theme for South Orange, where so many different types of people, ideas, and sensibilities collide every day to make something incredibly wonderful,” said Stephen Schnall, the festival’s founder.
Throughout the months of July and August, the Summit Department of Community Programs will host an amazing line-up of summertime events!
The 68th Annual Mayor’s Fourth of July Celebration
Everything will kick off with the 68th Annual Mayor’s Fourth of July Celebration.
The event will take place at Soldier’s Memorial Field, with festivities beginning at 9:45 a.m. with the annual Flag Raising Ceremony. The Grand Fireworks Display at 9:15 p.m. will mark the grand finale of the day.
Residents and visitors of Summit and the surrounding communities are invited to take park in the day-long activities, which will include children’s entertainment, novelty rides, games & amusements, and more. The Childrens’ Decorated Bicycle Parade will also take place that day. There will be tons of snacks and food available at the many vendors attending the event.
In the event of rain, “The Cameos” concert and the Grand Fireworks Display will be held on July 5 and the daytime festivities will unfortunately not be re-scheduled.
The Annual Mayor’s Fourth of July is sponsored by Overlook Medical Center, Investors Bank, and the Celgene Corporation, along with support from the general public.
“Screen of the Green” Movie Series and “Hot Summer Nights” Concert Series
The Summit Department of Community programs will also host a movie seris and concert series this summer, both of which are held Tuesday and Thursday evenings through July and August, on Summit’s Village Green. Admission to all screenings and concerts are free and open to the public.
The 2015 “Hot Summer Nights” concert series will feature performances every Tusday night at 7 p.m. in July. The schedule includes:
July 7 – Lovebent
July 14 – AM Gold
July 21 – Funktion*
July 28 – Smooth
July 21 will also be Community Night, a gathering for local non-profits to share their mission with concert-goers.
“Screen on the Green” will take place every Thursday at 7:45 p.m. with a family dance party and the movies themselves will start after dark. The schedules includes:
July 23 – “The Spongebob Movie”
July 30 – “Home”
August 6 – “Rio 2”
August 13 – “How to Train Your Dragon 2”
The series is sponsored by Overlook Medical Center, Investors Bank, The Rubino OB/GYN Group, Tide Dry Cleaners, the Summit PAL, Exhale, the Summit Area YMCA, the Summit Connection, the Summit Lions Club, the Summit Elks Club, and other local businesses.
For more information on the 2015 concert and movie series, including rain dates, visit cityofsummit.org/recreation.
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On Sunday, June 28, the Millburn Short Hills Summer Concerts in the Park program will begin its awesome summer series with the popular horn band Street Hassle. This will be their fifth time performing for the community, which can’t get enough of their exciting original material and striking covers of Classic Rock, Blues, Motown hits. Street Hassle consists of a six-piece horn section and three amazing female vocalists.
The band will kick off with a number of popular songs from 60s and 70s classic acts such as Chicago and Blood Sweat and Tears (for whom they have opened). Street Hassle has also opened for many national headliners, including Steppenwolf. Come out with friends and family and enjoy great music in the beautiful Taylor Park. Refreshments will be sold by local Italian restaurant, Gian Marco. The concert will go from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
The rest of summer lineup looks equally promising. On Sunday, July 12, Soul Groove will play R & B/ Motown and pop hits of the last 4 decades; The Happening, the Northeast’s premier Rock & Roll dance band, will perform on Sunday, July 26; The British Invasion Tribute will play your favorite from the Beatles, Dave Clark 5, the Stones, and more on Sunday, August 9.
All concerts are free and take place in Taylor Park, at 100 Main Street, Millburn. If necessary, rain dates will be announced at a later date.
Rain date announcements will also be available by calling 973-564-7096.
This concert is sponsored by the Millburn Laser Center, Dr. Eric S. Siegel.
In a recent study by the website Niche.com, New Providence was awarded a top-five ranking for Best Suburbs to Raise a Family in New Jersey. It was also the top rated suburban town in Union County. Summit ranked second highest among Union county boroughs, earning the #15 spot.
Niche.com rated the communities based on a variety of criteria, including age demographics, school ratings, crime rates, and access to affordable housing, child care, libraries, and grocery stores. High ranks indicate that a town attracts young families who are looking for good schools and a safe environment in which to raise children.
According to Karen Schneider, president of Lois Schneider Realtor, New Providence has been seeing a positive real estate activity. The median selling price for homes this year went up 17.7 percent compared to the year before, and the average number of sold properties has increased by 86. 7 percent. The average list price is up by 11.1 percent. Along with the rise in real estate numbers, New Providence High School has achieved top marks from New Jersey Monthly magazine, and Karen Schneider suspects this exposure may have contributed to the increased number of home sales and pricing in the area.
New Providence received such high rankings on Niche’s list because of its high home values, very high rent costs, and low unemployment rates. Its citizens are generally highly educated and receive high income, with the median household income at $130,536.
On Friday, June 25th, the religious leaders of the South-Orange- Maplewood Clergy Association will host an interfaith vigil to show support and love for the victims and community of Charleston South Carolina, in response to the horrific fatal shooting that took place at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church last Wednesday.
The vigil will be held at the South Orange Transit Station at 5:30 p.m. and all are welcome to attend.
The clergy association released the following joint statement:
“The recent tragedy is an unfortunate touchstone for the intertwined social issues of guns, violence and race that have affected the South Orange – Maplewood community and the entire nation. The South Orange – Maplewood clergy stand against hatred and are united in support of all those who have been affected by violence.”
The South Orange – Maplewood Clergy association is an organization that represents many religions and spiritual practices in the Maplewood community. It sponsors semi-regular meetings and a number of congregations throughout the year.
On Thursday, June 11, the streets and shops of Maplewood were packed with women and girls celebrating the Maplewood Village Alliance’s 8th Annual Girls’ Night Out. More than 500 people attended and over two dozen village merchants participated in the event. Despite the tiring summer heat, the town was alive with laughter, friendly conversation, and plenty of girl bonding.
Attendees enjoyed a variety of fun activities, including raffles, door prizes, signature cocktails, mini-massages, live music, trunk shows, and more. No one went away empty-handed thanks to the over 350 neon green swag bags made especially for the event that were handed out at the start of the evening. The Maplewood Village Alliance’s Julie Doran and Deb Colon gave out these cute, reusable bags (donate by Sarah Maloney of Sunquest Funding) within an hour and a half.
Not only did Girls Night Out support local business, it also supported a very important cause. Shops, restaurants, and other businesses had donation buckets outside their doors for The Caroline Fund to support brain cancer research, in memory of local merchant Angelo Vayas, the founder and owner of the Village Trattoria.
Next week, Doran will announce the “Shop to Win” prize winners as well as a tally of the donations collected.
The Sue Adler Team has 8 stunning open houses this weekend. The following properties will be open to the public on Sunday June 14, 2015.
Open House is By Appointment Only. Call or Email to let us know you’re coming. Open 2pm-4pm