Clifton Merchant Magazine - December 2015

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Clifton Merchant • December 2015


What’s Inside? 18 Celebrate the Season The Diversity of Our Hometown

26 Traditions and Memories Neighbors Share the Holidays

40 Gondolier Mike Novack He Also Founded the Santa Tour

53 2015 Optimist Cup Mustangs & Indians on Turkey Day

62 Sharing and Caring Volunteer, Donate and Help Out

80 Mustang Winter Sports Photos & Preview of the Season

94 Veterans Parade

108 History and The Arts

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Clifton Merchant • December 2015


6 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

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The Hawrylko kids: Nick, Casey, Tom Jr. and Joe.

2015 was our 20th year of publication. Thanks to your readership and advertising support, Clifton Merchant Magazine is firmly planted in our hometown. We continue to grow and evolve with Clifton and try our best to publish a magazine that reflects our community. As it has been a tradition for nearly two decades, the kids—now adults— are pictured. Here is an update on where they are: Nick, 20, is studying theater production and design at Montclair State, specializing in sound and lighting. Casey, 25, is enjoying teaching first grade at the Brookdale School in Bloomfield after her return from living in Australia. Tom Jr., now 28, runs Tomahawk Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning and it too has turned into a household name. Joe, 30, works in the advertising department of the Jewish News of Greater Metro West and still often writes wonderful stories for us. Support from the community has allowed us to remain an independent and successful small business. Thank you for your trust, and God bless. —Tom Hawrylko

Due to the holidays we've moved the publication date of our January 2016 edition. Rather than the usual first Friday of the month, for this month only, look for us on January 8.

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


Think you feel the power of the holiday spirit when you’re in your home town? One source might be closer to you than you think. By Douglas John Bowen Don’t fall for the Hallmark Channel’s various explanations of where Santa Claus lives and works. He can be found right here in Acquackanonk Gardens – at least when he’s not making his globetrotting journey on Christmas Eve which begins with the 45th Annual Tour De Clifton on Dec. 24. And much like Superman has an everyday cover identity as Clark Kent, the real Santa, most days, poses as lifelong, hard working and jolly Cliftonite Patrick M. Doremus, a 48-year-old veteran employee of the city’s Department of Public Works. Santa, aka Patrick to unsuspecting neighbors, colleagues, and townfolk, calls Acquackanonk Gardens home along with his wife, Lee Ann, and their two sons, Patrick Jr., CHS Class of 2017, and David, who is i nthe fifth grade at School 2. Lee Ann was born in Acquackanonk Gardens, nestled near the sloping hills of Valley Rd., just off of Van Houten Ave., and has lived virtually her whole life there, save for a few brief months. Her mother, Arlene Bross, lives immediately next door. 8 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Mr. and Mrs. Claus with two of their favorite elves, CHS Junior Patrick Doremus and his School 2 fifth grade brother David.

Lee Ann’s husband, by contrast, spent his early life in Delawanna, or “the wrong side of the tracks,” more than one family member asserted with a smile. In short, it’s a convincing cover story, complete with official records and not a single verbal slip from any of the Doremus family. And to be sure, on a recent visit to Van Wagoner Ave., Santa’s sleigh and reindeer were hidden from sight amidst several functioning sheds and tool houses. Meanwhile, somethng akin to a thinly disguised runway in Acquackanonk Park blended

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


into autumn invisibility amidst the adjacent baseball field, basketball court, and toddlers playground. The ruse was nearly perfect. Caught in dress rehearsal But Publisher Tom Hawrylko, with amazingly quick camera reflexes, captured Santa/Patrick and some helpers running through an early dress rehearsal in November – undoubtedly part of Santa’s annual preparation schedule. Caught on camera, Santa disappeared in the legendary blink of an eye. He shortly reappeared as Patrick Doremus in civilian clothes, and modestly – but merrily – consented to a living room interview. A steady, almost magically consistent fire in the real fireplace, fueled by ash wood, lent a holiday atmosphere to the discussion. Even before Santa was asked his first question, he fired off one of his own, inquiring if Hawrylko had brought his Christmas wish list. Then, with a laugh, he warned that the publisher had better behave. “I’ll be watching you,” he said as Hawrylko departed. Canvassing Clifton “So when did you know you were Santa Claus?” the visitor inquired, getting the interview under way. “I was walking through [Clifton] City Hall last November,” Santa recalled, referring to 2014. “Mayor James Anzaldi walked out of his office. He looked me up and down and said, ‘You would fit.’” “‘Fit for what?’ I asked,” Santa said. “‘We’re looking for Santa,’ the mayor replied.” “‘There already is a Santa,’ I protested,” Santa recounted to his guest. But he also told the mayor, “’If you’re in a jam, I’ll take the job.’ The mayor told me to call home and ask my wife.” Mrs. Claus (Lee Ann) was enthusiastic. “I was all for it, 100%. It was perfect for my husband,” she said. Mrs. Claus also provided a transitional bridge; I went to school with Tom Insinga’s daughter, Karen,” she noted, allowing Cliftonites to connect the dots involving 44 years (now 45) of city holiday tradition, founded by Insinga and Mike Novack in 1971. But if the offer was “perfect,” it was also short notice, giving Santa only one month to prepare for the 45th annual Christmas Eve tour. Still, Santa was ready 10 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Santa in Acquackanonk Gardens last Christmas Eve.

in time, fitting his Clifton appearance into his global schedule, ready to carry on Clifton tradition. Each year Santa appears on his float, provided by Bond Parade Floats & Displays Co. A police car leads the procession, generally followed by a fire truck sounding its siren and a well-amplified, trademark Santa “Ho, ho, ho” coming from the float’s sound system, alerting all to Santa’s approach. Last year, “I suited up around 3 pm, and we got started at roughly 4. That got me back to the house at about 11 o’clock,” he said. “I just covered the whole town. We first covered the lower side of the city, then stopped at City Hall to drop off anyone who needed to leave, and then continued on.” “In a nutshell, they put me on the float, told me to hold on, and I had to say ‘Merry Christmas.’ I can do that,” he said. Son Patrick Jr. accompanied his dad for the entire trip, training for the future. “I had a blast,” Patrick Jr. said. Added his dad, “He waved to everyone for the entire trip, just as I did. But he wasn’t ready to bellow ‘Merry Christmas’ just yet.” For the most part, Mrs. Claus kept the home fires burning with son David. “I did follow the float for a little while because Patrick Jr.’s girlfriend wanted to hop on the float,” Lee Ann said. “ I was there at the

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


“One story I will never forget,” City garage, making sure all was she recalled. “Patrick’s father’s well, but once the float left I license was set to expire. Even came home,” tending to other though we all knew he would never critical Christmas Eve family drive again, he insisted on getting agenda items. his license renewed. Patrick Given Santa’s grueling planned the whole trip all the way schedule, many have asked if down to calling DMV [Department even Santa gets to take a break. of Motor Vehicles] in Wallington so The answer: Bathroom breaks he can get his dad in quickly for his are scheduled. “But they don’t picture. That happened exactly one feed Santa,” Santa said, patting week before he died. his stomach gently. His visitor “Patrick is a rare breed. I’m not expressed sincere annoyance at sure how he was able to be Santa so this slight; Santa just smiled. soon after all of that, but I have to “You do get a little tired,” say, they couldn’t have picked a Santa resumed. “But the wear more perfect person,” Mrs. Claus on your voice is the main conEugene Doremus, Patrick’s father. said. Indeed. cern. Still, I made it all the way through the city and the evening Coping with an injury saying my signature line, ‘Merry Christmas to all and Santa Claus may not be a mere mortal, but even he is to all a good night,’” acknowledging one of Santa’s not immune from accidents or injury. early speechwriters, Clement Clark Moore. “Years ago – I can’t remember exactly, but at least a decade ago – a bunch of platform tables fell on me, Strong family ties roughly 500 pounds of weight,” Santa recalled. The Santa also acknowledged his support staff, especially incident, occurring at the Clifton Rec Center, seriously his wife. “There aren’t too many people who would let injured his left leg, resulting in a trip to the hospital, him do this – except Mrs. Claus,” he says, beaming. extensive physical therapy, and “five-and-a-half “It’s an honor to be asked, since my father was months out of work,” he said. “I had to learn to reuse Santa, so it really is a family tradition, pretty much,” my leg. I wasn’t able to move. I was worried that I Santa said humbly. wouldn’t walk.” Mrs. Claus, aka Lee Ann Doremus, affirmed with The injury still lingers, though Santa made it a point pride that the spirit of Santa has been an important to stay on his feet while visiting every Clifton neightouchstone through family generations, on both a large borhood. “Every once in a while I have a shooting level and, even more significantly, in more intimate pain,” he observed, and the leg “will buckle on occafamily terms. sion. It gets tired. Just fatigue, that’s all. You have to “Patrick’s dad, Eugene, was an extremely imporovercome.” Santa spurns any pharmaceutical assistance tant person in his life,” Mrs. Claus said emphatically. to deal with the injury, but, with a laugh, he allowed, “He lost his dad in October, 2014. Mayor Anzaldi “Milk and cookies go a long way.” approached Patrick about being Santa in November, 2014. It was only six weeks after Eugene died. Perennial fan favorite “For the last three or four months of his dad’s life, Milk and cookies are part of the formula for Santa’s Patrick took care of him,” she continued. “He pretty much moved back home during those months, slept ongoing appearances and rock star status, even as his there most nights, helped with doctors, feeding, Clifton audience changes over the decades. Last year bathing, taking him outside, out for drives. Everything families poured out of their homes despite persistent and anything that his dad needed, Patrick was there. rainy weather that would have dampened the 12 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


spirits of most on any other day. Santa has a knack for bringing out the best part of anyone, even when the weather doesn’t cooperate. “The response was great, really good,” Santa reported. “People in every neighborhood, people from many different walks of life, they all were laughing, smiling, bringing their children along, holding them up for a better view, just having a good time.” Both Santa and son Patrick Jr. Lee Ann and Patrick Doremus and family at their wedding on May 19, 1990. note the upbeat response included those who might not celebrate the payback for staying up late all night. His own kids Christmas within their homes. “There were no bad have to get their own presents.” vibes,” Santa said. “The Christmas spirit is something Mrs. Claus said Santa can handle the schedule. “He’s anyone can understand, regardless of a personal congot a very high energy level. He’s like that every day.” viction.” If that energy level ever flags, Patrick Jr. is ready to Different neighborhoods posed different challenges carry on the family tradition for future generations of As one example: Down in Botany Village, amidst narSanta seekers. Jr. When not attending CHS, Patrick Jr. row streets and tight corners, at one point “we got spends time with the Woodland Park Fire Department, stuck. So we got off the float while people worked to ostensibly training to become a firefighter. He also get us back on the road, and we started talking to all the plans to study to qualify as an Emergency Medical children and people there, meeting as many people as Technician (EMT). Either or both would provide a conwe could. Everyone had a great time,” Santa said. venient cover story, beyond gainful employment, to “They hit every neighborhood, even if they can’t hit obscure one’s true identity if one’s future includes every street,” added Mrs. Claus, who as Lee Ann piloting a sleigh around the world. Doremus works as a medical biller for a urology group Asked about the possibility of a future succession of in nearby Bloomfield. Son Patrick Jr. chimed in, “We Santas, Patrick Jr. answers politely, if a bit evasively, didn’t miss much.” “I’ll do the job in the future, if I’m asked.” For now, though, Santa – again, under the moniker Ready for action again Patrick M. Doremus – has the situation well in hand, A month after landing the job, and only two months aided by family and by the hardworking crew of elves after his father died, what was the end result of a hard from City Hall, Clifton Fire Department, and Bond evening’s work? Parade Float Co., among other contributors. “The mayor was pleased,” Santa said. “After we But he did express concern about Santa’s meaning were done, he said thank you, and he said I had the job and standing, as sometimes shaped by forces beyond for the next 40 years, if I wanted it. I was exhausted,” even his control. “I just read in the paper it will cost $50 Santa added, almost as an afterthought. “But I’m ready at Macy’s just to sit with Santa,” he said, shaking his for this year.” head at the concept, unhappy about how it might reflect Santa, of course, had a whole globe to travel before on the spirit of the holiday. a very well-deserved nap. “My son David tried to wake What advice might he have for “other” Santas, the us up at 6 am Christmas morning,” he said, and both stand-ins, positioned on a street corner or on their own Santa and son Patrick Jr. slowly sprung into action. floats in cities and towns across America? Said Mrs. Claus, laughing, “He’s gotta get up. That’s “Just be jolly,” Santa said. And to all, a good night. 14 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


T raditions & Memories

45th Annual Tour de Clifton Get Ready for Wailing Sirens & a Mini Parade It’s an event. It’s an institution. It’s an outpouring of community spirit. And mostly it’s lots and lots of oldfashioned fun. We’re talking about this year’s 45th Annual Tour De Clifton on Dec. 24, which is Christmas Eve. If you are new to town get ready, because you’ll first hear it off in the distance... Beginning at 3 pm and lasting for six to eight hours — after which children should be safely tucked in their beds anyway—Santa does his annual circuit of the city, escorted by the wailing sirens of police and fire vehicles. Santa will be easy to spot, since he’ll either be atop a fire engine or riding his own personal float all around town, courtesy of Bond Parade Floats & Displays Company of Clifton. 16 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

The Santa Tour is preceded by a raft of tree lightings in most every neighborhood which happen early in the month, each of them packed with more holiday wattage than Rudolph has on his nose, and by additional Santa sightings. Thus, you’ll have plenty of other opportunities to share in the holiday spirit at numerous gatherings. Turn to page 75 for a list of tree lightings, accurate as of press time, follows, thanks to a friendly reindeer—no names, but his first initial is ‘R’— who tells us that Santa and his team of reindeer always looks forward to visiting Clifton since he, the elves, and the team of reindeer can’t get their beloved Hot Texas Wieners up at the North Pole. For additional info, call Mayor Jim Anzaldi at 973-470-5757.

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


Clifton is a mosaic of cultures It’s something to be proud of and to learn from. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the many cultural and ethnic celebrations that some Clifton families observe to Celebrate The Season. Diwali Called the Festival of Light, Diwali is celebrated by both Hindus and Sikhs. The festival is held during the new moon in late October or early November (this year it began on Nov. 11) when darkness is pierced by the light from small lamps or candles. Since Diwali is, for some Hindus, a New Year’s festival, many celebrate with rituals to honor Lakshmi, goddess of prosperity. A central part of the Diwali celebration for Hindus is the retelling of the Ramayana. This story celebrates the return of Rama and Sita to the village of Ayodhya. The Lights of Diwali represent the candles that were lit to guide Rama and Sita safely home.

Ramadan The season began this year on June 17, and it commemorates the day when the Koran, the holy book of Islam, was given to the prophet Muhammad by the archangel Gabriel. After receiving the vision, Muhammad preached in the city of Mecca that there was only one God. Many did not like his idea and he and his followers fled to Medina. They formed an army and in A.D. 630, they marched back to Mecca to spread the religion of Islam. During the entire month, no one eats any food or drinks any water from sunrise to sunset. People fast to teach themselves self-discipline and to defeat Satan. During Ramadan, followers read the entire Koran.

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up a great army and returned to the city where they fought four major battles against the Syrians. They lost the first three but won the last. After the battle, Judah Maccabee led his followers to Jerusalem where they tore down the statues of the Greek gods and rededicated the Temple to God. Their celebration is considered the first Hanukkah. Today, the menorah, which has branches for nine candles, is the most important symbol of Hanukkah. Eight of the candles represents the days of Hanukkah. The ninth candle is the shammes, or servant. It is responsible for

Hanukkah A time when Jews celebrate their victory for religious freedom with the eight day Festival of Lights, which begins on Dec. 6. Thousands of years ago, Israel was ruled by Syrians, who worshiped many gods, while the Jews worshiped only one. A Syrian ruler decreed that Jews must worship Greek gods, then destroyed Jewish temples and demanded the Jews break their dietary laws. One family, the Maccabees, refused and led an uprising before fleeing to the hills, where many other Jews followed. They built

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Clifton Merchant • December 2015


lighting all the others. Most people set aside one day for exchanging gifts, which are wrapped in blue and white paper. At the party, people sing songs, give small gifts of money called gelt and play dreidel, a traditional game. Christmas Observed annually on Dec. 25 by Christians, it celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. As the Light of the World, Jesus is represented by the lights of Christmas. Before Jesus was born, his parents, Mary and Joseph, traveled to Bethlehem to pay taxes and to be counted in the census. On the night that Mary knew she was going to give birth, they searched for shelter. All the inns were full. Finally an innkeeper allowed the couple to stay in his barn. Jesus was born that night among farm animals. Angels told shepherds of his birth and they immediately visited the infant Jesus. A star appeared above the stable, leading Three Wise Men to the place. They came bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

22 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Orthodox Christmas On Jan. 7 because it is observed by following the Julian calender. On Christmas Eve, Jan. 6, Ukrainians, Russians and others of the Orthodox faith celebrate with a traditional holy supper of 12 courses, including varieties of fish, as well as non-dairy and meatless dishes. Upon completion of the holy supper, depending upon the tradition of the local parish, evening church vespers are held. Kwanzaa A holiday which intertwines African traditions with American customs, celebrated Dec. 26 through Jan. 1. It is based on six criteria of a people—history, mythology, creativity, social structure, political organization, and economics. The core principles of Kwanzaa, the Nguzo Saba (the Seven Principles), which are expressed in Swahili, a language of East Africa, are Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose),

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith). The seven symbols associated with Kwanzaa, also expressed in Swahili, are mazao (fruits, vegetables, and nuts), mkeka (place mat), kinara (candleholder), vibunzi (ear of corn), zawadi (gifts), kikombe cha umoja (communal cup of unity), and mishumbaa saba (seven candles). The Baha’i Faith Celebrates Nov. 12, the Birth of Baha’ u’ llah, the Founder of the Faith. Baha’ u’ llah was born in Tihran, Persia (Tehran, Iran) in 1917. His father, a nobleman, held a high position at the king’s court and was loved and trusted by the people. As a child, Baha’ u’ llah was different from other children. Though untutored, He surprised all with His wisdom and understanding. It was not only His physical beauty that attracted people, but His deep love and concern for people. He soon became known as the “Father of the Poor.” He was imprisoned and exiled during the last 40 years of His

Ministry and passed away in the prison-city of Akka in Israel. Baha’ u’ llah has over 100 volumes of revelation in which He has introduced a prescription for world peace. Among His teachings are: the unity of God’s Prophets, the oneness of the human race, the search after truth, elimination of prejudice, harmony of science and religion, and equality of women and men. New Year’s Day The only secular holiday that the entire world observes regardless of race or religious beliefs, it is based on the solar calendar established by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 and adopted by most countries. However, the Orthodox Eastern churches use the earlier Julian calendar with the New Year falling on Jan. 14. Some, including Jews, Chinese, Hindus and Muslims, use a lunar or some combination of a lunar and solar calendar. The date of the Chinese New Year may fall between Jan. 21 and Feb. 19. Jewish New Year begins on the first day of Tishri.

Happy Holidays!

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Clifton Merchant • December 2015


T raditions & Memories Neighborhood to Neighborhood How do you mark the holidays, the holy days, the passing of seasons? We asked Cliftonites to share some of their memories and traditions as December and the holidays greet us...

While Ernest Scheidemann has fond memories of being the Grand Marshal of the 2001 Downtown Clifton Christmas Parade, he reminds readers to cherish family most of all. Also pictured at top right are Rafael Vilorio (his comments are on page 34) and some of the angelic ballerinas who recently performed at the North Jersey Elks Developmental Disabilities Agency on Main Ave.


December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


T raditions & Memories Ricky Bagolie Attorney As an interfaith family, Ricky and Rosy Bagolie blend cultures that comes together in a unique and harmonious way during the holidays. “She’s Dominican and we are both Jewish,” explained Bagolie, who was raised as a Jew of Italian heritage. He is also a former President of the Clifton-Passaic UNICO, and Italian-American service organization. “Rosy’s family is Catholic, so we celebrate Hanukkah at home and participate in Christmas with her family,” said Bagolie, who is an attorney with offices in Clifton, Jersey City, New York, and Florida. “Rosy’s really an American success story,” he continued, proudly. “She came here from the Dominican Republic at age 10 with her family who had nothing and did not speak English. They settled in Elizabeth where she eventually became class president. She finished her college degree at Seton Hall in three years, her masters in one, and then obtained her doctorate in educational leadership, all while teaching public school back in her hometown. She is an expert in autism and is now the Director of Special Services in Bogota,” he concluded, then added with a laugh: “Oh, and she married me.” When it comes to raising their three sons, Frank, Aaron, and Jacob, the Bagolies bring them up in the Jewish faith but integrate aspects from Rosy’s Dominican background.


December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Rosy and Ricky Bagolie with Frank, age 9, at left, and 7-year-old twins Aaron and Jacob.

“The oldest one is nine, and I already have papers to schedule his Bar Mitzvah when he is 13,” he explained. “All of the boys are on track to have their Bar Mitzvah.” “At the holidays, we have a Mensch on a Bench, a Hanukkah Bush, The Festival of Lights, there’s gifts being wrapped and all that,” Bagolie continued. “For the Festival of Lights we fry potato pancakes called latkes. We also make a Dominican dish using cassava. It’s a root vegetable that’s a little bit sweeter than a potato. Recently, we’ve been experimenting with making latkes with the cassava.”

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


T raditions & Memories Anne Foster Coordinator of Therapies, North Jersey Elks Developmental Disabilities Agency (NJEDDA)

“They’re my family here, my kids,” said Anne Foster, referring to the developmentally disabled students served in three facilities NJEDDA manages in Clifton. They include the grade school/headquarters on Main Ave. with about 120 kids, the high school on Union and Main Ave. with another 100 or so and the Adult Training and Medical Day Care Program on Route 46 at Hazel St. which services another 40 adults, all grads of the Center and other specialized schools. Founded here in Clifton in 1947 at the height of the post-WWII baby boom, NJEDDA (the former CP Center) has done much to help special needs students and their families. While financial support comes from sending school districts, considerable aid is provided by members of five Passaic County Elks Lodges which place a special emphasis on cerebral palsy and the developmentally disabled. The lodges pinpoint their activities towards charitable support of the CP Center. While the Elks members focus on the fundraising, it is Foster and her colleagues who concern themselves with fun raising activities: “One of my favorite things involves the Thanksgiving celebration we have for both the elementary school,” Foster said. “We have a turkey dinner for staff and students. At our high school we also hold a football game, generating two teams, that’s an annual event. Some of the girls are cheerleaders and we also have a pep squad. “We also are fortunate that Holiday Express, a nonprofit group that entertains, a musical group, visits each year. The kids just love them. The group gets the kids involved, and it brings gifts for the kids, too. 30

December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

“It’s a very happy time,” Foster said. “For the holidays, we also have a sing-along with a woman volunteer who plays guitar. We have a holiday boutique that our occupational therapist runs. We have enough items ‘for sale’ so that all the kids can shop and buy something for their families. Kids try to think of something their family members might like, to think of others,” Foster said. “As well, UPS generously buys gifts for the students every year, so we give UPS a list of the students, with teachers making recommendations on what gifts might be nice for them. UPS comes with Santa, and they distribute a gift per student. And the student gets a picture with Santa, too,” Foster said. For readers looking to support a local charity, NJEDDA certainly meets that bill. To find out more, talk about ways to support the programs here, call Executive Director William Weiss at 973772-2600 or write him at

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T raditions & Memories John Biegel, Jr. Avenue of Flags Chair

“My wife Mary died in 1981. I had my two sons, John III and Jeffrey, living with me then, but my daughter Kathleen was married and on her own with her husband, Tom. After two years had gone by, I came up with the idea to go for Thanksgiving Breakfast.”

Since 1983, Biegel’s clan has met every Thanksgiving morning, at about 9 am to break bread. “We would meet for breakfast at Calico Kitchen, “ he said. “For 21 years we met there. It closed down, so we had to find a new place – first the Lexington Diner, then the Tick Tock Diner. The last four years it has been the Allwood Diner. We started with seven people. We now have 13 adults and four great-grandchildren, including last names of Biegel, Fieldhouse and Romadon. This Thanksgiving, pictured above, we just celebrated 27 years of doing this, and we hope to keep going. I recently moved, so that’s changed, but our tradition hasn’t—Thanksgiving for our family begins together, talking, laughing and having fun.” 32

December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


T raditions & Memories Lillianna Chuddolij “Since our parents have passed, our family now consists of first, second, and third generation Americans. Honoring our cultural roots is more than a date on a calendar; it is what makes us who we are and whom we represent in this vast melting pot. “Our entire family continues all of the culinary, religious and yes, the associated pagan traditions of celebrating Christmas with all of Ukraine in January: Christmas Eve January 6th, Christmas Day January 7th, following the Ukrainian Byzantine Christian Calendar which has no spiritual exclusion but rather spiritual inclusion.

Fred Seidler Clifton Post Office

“Our family usually decorates our Christmas tree around the feast of St. Nicholas on Dec. 19, which is pretty different from most Americans.! Our family tree is especially themed. It is adorned with ornaments that were all either cherished heirlooms brought to the USA by our parents and grand-parents after World War II liberation, sent from Ukraine by our relatives, made in Ukraine, or keepsakes by our family members and friends through the generations. “The tree is finished with a traditional brightly lit eight-pointed Star of Bethlehem, customary in Ukrainian folklore. (By the way, that eight-pointed pattern is repeated on Pysanky, Ukrainian Easter eggs. But that’s another tradition.”)

Eileen Keating “We usually go to 5:30 pm mass on Christmas Eve, and then usually have a Christmas Eve dinner, which is always different and not a set standard. We’re more involved on Christmas Day. But the kids are married now, with families of their own, so it’s difficult to plan in advance or to do the same routine each year. We adjust for the situation every year. The new tradition is no tradition, at least in terms of rote.”

Rafael Vilorio ADT Security Consultant

On our first Christmas together, my wife Kathleen, who passed away five years ago... both of us had forgotten to buy a tree and we wound up with the original Charlie Brown tree. There were other trees throughout our marriage, both real and artificial, but that one, of course, has the most significance of all. 34

December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

“My favorite holiday tradition is on Valentine’s Day, the birthday of my grandmother Lola Canario. For decades my family would rent a hall here in Passaic or back in New York City for a humongous celebration. We were 42 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren on the last one we did before she died at the age of 92 in June of 2012.”

Jeff Hoey “On Thanksgiving I’m going to sleep on the couch and let others cook. That’s luxury! We lost our son eight years ago when our son was a senior in high school. It changes things. Most of the things we do are traditional; it’s just we always have Jimmy on our minds. It’s not that we’re not happy; it’s just that we have bittersweet overtones. It’s just knowing of the somebody who is not there that affects things.”

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


T raditions & Memories

The generational Rowan clan as seen last year, from left: Mike Rowan with Shawn and Felicia, Kerry and James Baker with Aoife, Jimmy, and Liam, Father Eamonn O’Brien, Joyce and Bob Rowan.

Robert Rowan Retired Clifton Police Captain Liturgy in the living room: Not every family or congregant can expect a priest to make a liturgical “house call” at Christmas. But the Rowan family can, at least now and again. It’s what retired Clifton Police Department Detective Captain Robert Rowan calls “an interesting wrinkle” amidst a holiday schedule that, in many respects, “is pretty similar to that enjoyed by so many others.” The family’s edge? It has a priest as a member of the family. “I have a cousin, Eamonn O’Brien, who’s a missionary priest from Ireland,” Rowan said. “He’s stationed in China now, traveling around, meeting with different groups throughout the country. That’s significant in itself, since at one time priests weren’t allowed into China, let alone travel anywhere within it, “Eamonn travels back and forth between China, Ireland, and England. If he’s en route, especially on or around the holidays, he usually stops off here in America – not every Christmas, of course. Last year we welcomed him as he stayed with us for a few days. 36

December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

“On Christmas Day, he said mass in the living room. We have three children and seven grandchildren; they all came over for Christmas Day.” Eamonn’s Christmas Day work followed plenty of warmup activities the previous evening, Rowan added. “Generally what we’ve done for years on Christmas Eve is go visit friends. We often visit the owners of Wheels and Troops Subs, on Van Houten Ave.,” he said, referring to Laurie Mocek, owner of Wheels, a jewelry store, and her brother Bill who owns Troops Subs right next door. “Laurie usually has a little gathering at the shop, so last year we brought Eamonn with us to see them.” “Later on we went to the Grabowskis and of course we told them Eamonn was a priest. Ray Grabowski asked for a blessing of his brother Matt, who was very ill at the time. Eamonn in fact did that, and I think Ray felt rather comforted with that. That made it interesting—and very moving.” Clifton Councilman Matt Grabowski a Realtor and lifelong resident of Athenia, passed away on Feb. 25, 2015, at the age of 53. “On Christmas Day, Eamonn wore a jacket he had brought from China, a kind of red silk. He said it was the only thing he had that was red that would fit into Christmas,” Rowan recalled. For the family, the fit was a perfect one.

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


T raditions & Memories

These Mustangs get together monthly in South Jersey. All are invited to the next event on Dec. 15. Front row: Marlene Vandenberg, Diane Vernarec, Belle DiFalco, Barbara Szijas, Linda Fillipone, Pam Polyak. Middle row: Hank Vandenberg, Joe Vernarec, George DiFalco, Allen Seijas, Rich Fillipone, Carole Brierley, Jeff Polyak. Back row: Emil Koenig, Rich Belli, Matt Bajek, George Kulik, Holly Kulik, Rich Brierley, Jim Brierley.

George Kulik CHS Class of 1960 George Kulik and classmates from 1960 hold a lunch every six weeks at the Lamppost Inn, Route. 9, Pine Beach. They’ve been doing so for the past six years. The schedule includes a Christmas party, to be held this year on Dec. 15. It’s open to all CHS grads, not just the Class of 1960, Kulik said. “One or two do show up from other classes, like Jimmy Brierley’s brother, who was a couple of years after us. We don’t care too much about that.” The core group consists of Toms River and Ocean County residents, numbering about 20 and mostly CHS grads from 1960, “except for some of the wives,” Kulik said. Attendance fluctuates meeting to meeting, depending on the time of year and other variables. “It’s funny; we get people that’ll come for a month or two, then they’ll have something to do, such as during the summer. We’ll get only 10. Then suddenly we’ll get 20 or more, including people from up north,” Kulik said. 38

December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

“It’s a continuous thing. We talk about, or lie about, the old times. We talk about people’s lives, or people who have died, sadly. Some of us see each other regularly; the rest show when they want to.” The friendships have been nearly lifelong. As one example, Kulik cites the Vernarecs. “I’ve known Joe Vernarec and his wife Diane since high school, in fact I’ve known Diane since junior high,” Kulik said. “All are welcome to join in the fun.” That includes former CHS teachers overseeing the Class of 1960, Kulik pointed out. “George and Belle DiFalco were our teachers; they’re in their 80s and they show up during the summer and fall; they winter in Florida,” he said. “George DiFalco was the favorite teacher of almost anybody. Any time you had a problem you’d go to George or Belle. I don’t know how many other teachers from our era are still around.” At Christmastime, “We embarrass ourselves by dressing up as elves or reindeer; we just blame that on senility. Matt Bajek is a one-man band with the accordion; he performs for us, and we just have a good time.” Call George Kulik at 848-333-8761 or email to attend.

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


T raditions & Memories Mike Novack

Founder, Santa Tour de Clifton “I started the Christmas Santa float parade more than 40 years ago,” Novack stated. “Tom Insigna [who was Santa Claus] was my neighbor and we put it together. I went to different store owners, at least 20 merchants, and I told them, “Contribute some money and I’ll give everyone flyers on Santa’s route. We’ll get a crowd.” How much money? “It was $250... or $500... that’s what they would give. It was a lot of money, but we did a lot with that money. We’d give out sandwiches, we bought toys for the kids; we had designated stops. It was a very big deal,” he said. The pre-mall Clifton of the 1970s was different. Main Ave. was full of well-known locally owned stores, as were Botany, Athenia, and Valley Road.


December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Mike Novack and Crew, Circa 1971

Santa’s float, crafted in the 1970s, was put together with Department of Public Works equipment in a body shop owned by Joe Podolak and Tom Insigna, who had a personal interest in making sure the layout was comfortable and conducive to Santa’s needs. “We also used to get and give donations from toy companies,” Novack said. We’d put a sign up in a merchant window with all the stops listed. Each merchant would get a flyer. Everyone would get advertising, with all the merchants on it. That’s how it really grew into a Clifton tradition.” Novack said the Santa float started with the backing of the Athenia Business Association, Ploch’s, Al Sabah, Joe Podolak, Frank Mileto, Chuck Ranges, and Jerry Zecker, among others. Tom Insigna stayed with the tradition and held down Santa’s reins for 43 years, relinquishing his duties after 2013. When not focusing on Clifton, Novack also enjoyed holiday traditions on the family level. “We used to go to the Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Ave. and 29th Street in New York. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale used to be the pastor there. It’s a great tradition for Christmas Eve. They always have a big choir there; it’s really something to see,” he said. For the last few years, Novack’s other occupation is as a gondolier on the canals of Ft. Lauderdale and in the waters of the Hackensack River. Seriously. See more at

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


T raditions & Memories

Bobby DeVito Owner, Bond Parade Float Co. “Parades,” Bobby DeVito says simply. “We do parades up until two days before Christmas. It really picks up around the holidays,” as Bond Parade Float Co. goes into high gear to serve its business clients. Since DeVito’s wife, Marge, and two sons, Robbie and William, are involved in the business, the family “tradition” is pretty much a working one. “My two sons have taken over, but I’m still pretty active,” DeVito said. Make that 41 years of “pretty active,” since DeVito began work with the company in 1974 and never looked back. “I don’t do anything on Christmas Day itself; I refuse to. We do a little Christmas Eve work – one float, that’s all,” DeVito said. “The rest of December is pretty much dead, but then in January we gear up again to get ready for Chinese New Year,” with the exact date varying year by year. In 2016 Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, begins on Feb. 8. Robert DeVito and his crew of craftsmen make moveable, magical art out of wood, styrofoam, tinsel and other trimmings. You’ve seen his work along parade routes here in town and all over the Northeast. 42

December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

While DeVito is now 64, he and his staff have been dressing parades for decades. This Clifton Boulevard firm has been in the business of making floats since 1942. It was then that company founder Gilbert Bond began selling War Bonds at the celebrity filled rallies in Times Square. In the early ’60s, employee Rudy Ehrlich took the helm of the firm. Current owner and Mt. Prospect Ave. resident Robert DeVito, pictured above with his wife Marge, purchased the company in 1984 but has worked there since 1973. Over the years, the company has ‘Made in Clifton’ some memorable pieces of work which have been in some major parades. Among DeVito’s all time favorites: a massive two story float with the Lion of St. Mark’s Square in Venice atop of it, which was created for Perugina Chocolates. Here in Clifton, DeVito annually donates the float which carts Santa throughout the city on Christmas Eve. He has also donated his services to a number of other causes. So what is the secret to his moveable art? “That’s a good name for it,” responded DeVito, a ’73 grad of William Paterson. “Because by the time you can notice our mistakes, our floats are down the road. But seriously? It’s creating a good contrast of colors and graphics because the art is viewed best from afar.”

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T raditions & Memories As part of their studies, Paramus Catholic High School students recently lived for 24 hours as the homeless do. Here is what two Clifton seniors had to say about their out-of the-classroom learning experience:

Anna Mariano Paramus Catholic HS Senior Anna Mariano wanted to see if she could handle the experience, even if it was temporary. “You always see homeless people on the streets, but you never really know what they are going through,” she said. Her 24 hours in the program’s Tent City, she said, at least allowed her to be in “a similar situation for a short period of time.” And, she noted, at least she had a shelter of some sort, no matter how primitive. “It can be below freezing and the homeless may not get a place to

stay,” she said. “It can be so hard to live your life if you don’t have a home.” Though some might think food or cleanliness were primary issues, for Mariano the chief enemy was the cold. “My head and feet were freezing. I couldn’t imagine living like this for more than 24 hours, but there are thousands of people who do it every single day.”

Henrique Schulz Paramus Catholic HS Senior Being exposed to the cold also registered with Henrique Schulz. “I didn’t think it would be that bad,” he recalled, “but at times I thought about the homeless people who go through this every day. I’m fortunate to have a home to go to and only have this be a 24-hour experience.” Perhaps as important, Schulz realized that treating the homeless with kindness and caring – and as real people – was an beneficial intangible for him and the homeless alike. “Helping doesn’t only involve giving food and donating time. I can also strike up conversation when doing community service at a soup kitchen with the homeless. They are people who are going through rough times, so to just talk to them really seemed to put a smile on their faces.” “I’ve never experienced anything like this,” he added. “It really made me more aware of what thousands of people are going through in our country. I’m glad Paramus Catholic gave me this opportunity.” 44

December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


T raditions & Memories Bohdan Gojnycz Former CHS Teacher For Bohdan Gojnycz, last Christmas was especially sweet. Along with fellow parishioners at St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Tucson, Ariz., he unveiled a new ikonostas – a ornate and traditional icon wall – highlighting the congregation’s rehabilitated home. Common among Eastern Orthodox denominations, an ikonostas is also a key element in Ukrainian Catholic churches. Gojnycz was determined parishioners would have one, with ornately carved wood a key element in its making. Gojnycz, CHS ’57, grew up in Dutch Hill and attended St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church. CHS grads may recall Gojnycz’s 25-year stint teaching Business Education. “I taught a lot of accounting, law, consumer education, typing, economic geography, business math, anything in that area,” he said, adding that he was at CCMS for five years, too.

Bohdan Gojnycz in 1988 (at left) and with wife, Maria, and icon wall in 2014.

That knowledge came in handy after he retired in 1993 and, with his wife Maria, moved to Arizona in 2004. St. Michael’s welcomed him and his skills, naming him Facilities Manager overseeing volunteers to furnish and upgrade a new ‘home.’ “We celebrated our first Christmas in 2008,”Gojnycz recalled. “We were a small group – we’re still a relatively small group – but we needed the space.”

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Clifton Merchant • December 2015


T raditions & Memories Raising sufficient funding proved a challenge, but dedicated parishioners began work in March 2014, with Gojnycz focusing on the ikonostas first to get it ready for the following Easter. It was ready by last Christmas. “We finished the icon wall in three months,” he noted, “but the rest of work took a year or more. Some of it, in fact, is still ongoing.” Funding remains an issue. “Most of the other volunteers were far less experienced; one might think some of them had never picked up a hammer. But everyone worked hard, and had fun, while we worked toward a common goal,” Gojnycz said. An ikonostas, or icon wall, consists of a wall of icons and religious paintings, separating the nave from the sanctuary in a church. It usually does not sit directly on the edge of the sanctuary, but is usually set a few feet back from the edge of the top step. This forms a walkway in front of the iconostasis for the clergy. The new church is handling a growing congregation, Gojnycz said, capably led by Father Andriy Chirovsky, a native of Newark. “He’s a Jersey boy, too,” Gojnycz quipped. Some people strive to be icons. Others, like Bohdan Gojnycz, strive to give icons the proper home.

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December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


T raditions & Memories Tara M. Fuesko History Professor, WPU This Belgrade Ave. resident and CHS 2002 grad offered her thoughts concerning the holiday season. Below are a few of her comments... Thanksgiving When the annual PassaicClifton Thanksgiving Football game is at home, my Aunt Naomi (Huck) Horsky (CHS ’63) will drive down and go to the game with me before heading over to her daughter’s house for dinner. My cousin Amanda (Rice) Randle (CHS ’04) will sometimes join in. Nick and Kristy Link with Tara and Jilian Fuesko as kids and in high school.

Christmas Eve Nick graduated CHS in ’02, his sister in ’98 and Jilian in 2004. Below, that’s When I was little, my sister Tara Fuesko with her Aunt Naomi at this year’s Thanksgiving game. Jilian and I, as well as our St. Peter’s Episcopal Church to sing. Following the friends Kristy and Nick Link (pictured) who lived service, my friend Lauren (Read) Koslow and I up the block from us, would run after Santa when would wait for the clock to get as close to midnight he went by on the float, waving and shouting as possible and we would shout “Merry Christmas “Merry Christmas” from Fenner Ave. to Dumont Everyone!” at the top of our lungs while standing Ave. along Maplewood Ave. After Santa, my mothout on the front steps of our church on Clifton Ave. er, sister, and I would head off to 10 pm service at Christmas Day No matter how old we get, my sister Jilian and I, as well as Dana Cannizzaro (CHS ’03) who is like a sister as well), will spend Christmas morning in my parent’s living room in our pajamas opening presents. It’s only after presents are unwrapped that we go and get dressed and help get everything ready for family to come over for Christmas dinner. Broadway or bust Every year we have everyone put in their top choices for Broadway shows and availability, and then Mom chooses the date and the show. 50

December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


T raditions & Memories Joe & Roberta Holmes Operations Director, Clifton Boys & Girls Club “We have friends in Philadelphia and we celebrate Thanksgiving Day at their home. On Christmas, everybody comes to our house. Originally just four people were involved; now it’s up to 24. It was the adults; now we have children and grandchildren included. No matter where the kids are, they always seem to come home, whether from Boston or Maryland or Colorado.”

Rachel, Joe, and Roberta and Joe Holmes.

Seifullah Ali Shabazz Owner, Shabazz Productions

Seifullah Ali Shabazz said he regularly attends the Clifton Passaic Thanksgiving game since it’s a great way to keep in touch with the people in his community. “I’m not a sport person, but I go because I see my friends at the game. I was disappointed there weren’t more people there this year.” 52

December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

The Lakeview resident and concert promoter said it is a way to stay connected in a busy world. “You go because you see people come to the game that you otherwise wouldn’t see too often.” Afterwards, Shabazz’s tradition is to cook the bird. “Thanksgiving... I don’t really celebrate per se, but I recognize it and appreciate and respect people who do celebrate it. I just like the spirit of the holidays. I feel bad for all the people who have to work. They should be enjoying the holiday. I’ll cook a turkey because I get it for free and I give some to my brother. I also baked a few pies too.” Shabazz organizes his own tradition later on this winter. With his Shabazz Productions, he will present the 21st Martin Luther King Jr. Jazz Festival and Dinner on Jan. 16. The concert is at the Church of the Assumption, 35 Orange Ave., Clifton, from 6 pm to midnight. Performers include Jazzy Bear and Friends, Mark Turner and Jasphere, Mista B and The Boys, Choice, Madame Pat Tandy and Jazz Ensemble, and Sieedah Songbird and Trio. Tickets are $40 in advance; $45 at the door. Call Shabazz at 973-478-4124.

Coach Ralph Cinque and his wife Lindsey with their children Dominick and Emmalyn. Clifton MVPs Joe Santillo and Otto DeLeon with Passaic MVPs Yonathan Martinez and Tyshawn Bunting.

On Thanksgiving Day, Mustang faithful gathered at Joe Grecco Field to watch the Clifton Mustangs defeat the Passaic Indians by a score of 35-12. Led by a steady rushing attack, Clifton controlled the pace of the game throughout. But despite the score, both teams showed good sportsmanship after, as they gathered at the 50-yard line for the presenting of the Optimist Trophy by Clifton

Optimist Club President Mike Gimon. Speakers from both teams reminded the players to honor the lengthy tradition of the Clifton-Passaic game by battling hard and respecting their opponents, who they met the week before at the annual Optimist Clubs Hot Dog Night. While fans gathered before the game, we asked our readers what Thanksgiving traditions and memories they would be participating in this year: Clifton Merchant • December 2015


T raditions & Memories Josh Texidor CHS 2007

Josh Texidor (left) with fellow alumni Mustangs.

The annual Thanksgiving Day game has been a tradition before the turkey for Texidor since he was in high school. A graduate of the Class of 2007, he was a star running back and linebacker for the Mustangs when they won the State Championship in 2006. Now he returns to the games as a fan to catch up with other former Mustangs. “I come here every year with family,” he said. “There’s a lot of people from the Class of 2007 that I saw here too. It’s nice seeing everyone at these games since you don’t necessarily see everyone else during the year.”

Kelly Williams 1984 CHS Drum Major Two former Marching Mustang Drum Majors, Kelly Williams and Julie Krygsman, and, at right, the Guru of Brew, Skip Kazer, owner of the Clif Tavern.

A former Marching Mustang Drum Major, Kelly Williams attends the games to participate in the Alumni Band performance after the game. When Clifton is home, the Marching Mustangs are always complemented by more than 100 alumni, and the joint bands perform some of the staples. “The Clifton Band Alumni has a huge presence at that game and year-round. It’s really unique, even in the United States,” she bragged. “We have a lot of people come out. It’s larger than some collegiate homecomings.” 54

December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

The night before the game, Williams organizes a band reunion at The Clif Tavern, where she has bartended for many years. For more than five decades, these pre-feast festivities have drawn in hundreds of band alumni is the early part of the evening. “The Clif Tavern has been proud to support the Clifton Mustang Band & Alumni Association since 1964,” said Skip Kazer, owner of The Clif. “We are happy to host our friends here for the Thanksgiving game, Thanksgiving Eve, and all throughout the year!”

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


T raditions & Memories

Elizabeth Riley Eisenmenger We too begin the ‘odd’ years with Clifton football and Alumni Band homecoming (for all intents and purposes!). An alum from my class marched with his adult son, and one of my sons brought his three sons to watch their aunt march with the ‘big kids.’ It’s awesome having 40+ years of band gather, especially when the team is doing so well! We then gather as many relatives as available, host it in Clifton, and share a traditional meal... my father’s stuffing and gravy, grandma’s corn souffle and apple pie, my chocolate pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and green bean casserole with recipes off the cans! Everybody contributes and we give thanks to God for family and His many blessings! Keeping it generational: Miriam Eisenmenger with Nathan, Luke, and Jack Eisenmenger, Jonathan Eisenmenger.

Norm Tahan

Lisa M. Caruso

Spent another great day with the family at St Anne’s hall in Woodland Park. This year 92 guests. Glad Uncle Albie could make it after having a pacemaker installed on Tuesday. Big year coming up, so next year will be monumental. Happy to have the family that I have.

The family was together, except for one younger brother who was away. We make the family gather all in the dinner room, and we eat turkey, stuffing, mash potatoes, green beans salad, and a glass of wine. All of us are blessed.

Anthony Latona Every year my Christmas present to my nieces is a family day in New York City, creating and adding to memories and life experiences. It’s something no “Made in China” toy underneath the Christmas tree can do. We usually take the ferry over and get a view of New York City on their way, We’ll take a walk through Times Square, and see a Christmasthemed Broadway show. Then we head over to Rockefeller Center to see the tree there that’s all lit up and enjoy the Christmas ambience. And all along the way the talented acts and creativity of musicians and artists displaying their talents. 56

December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Overall it teaches the kids what Christmas is all about – the birth of Christ, and the value of family and being together, and not the commercialized holiday it has turned into. But the tradition also helps bring life experiences to the kids, everyday things such as learning to purchase ferry tickets, buy subway MetroCards. Or learning how to read the route maps on where to go and what time things run.

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


T raditions & Memories Maritza & José Morales Lakeview Residents On Thanksgiving, Jose Morales watches as a fan, but many of the Mustangs on the field coaching and playing still know him as Coach. Morales was a long time youth football coach for the Clifton Mustangs, retiring 6 years ago. He started coaching more than 20 years ago when his own boys, Jose Jr. and Josh, were coming through the program, and continued after they left. “I started in Paterson, and then we came here,” he explained while watching with family in the stands. “We won a lot of championships along the way and the kids had fun. Just today, I must have seen at least 8 kids I coached at the junior level. A lot of them are in college or out in the world now. It’s nice to see everyone doing well.”

After the game, Morales and his wife, Maritza, head back to their home in Lakeview for dinner with the rest of the family. “Every year, we’ve been having it at our house for 16 years now,” said Morales.

Since 1997, the Annual Turkey Bowl has taken place at Mt. Prospect Park after the turkey hangover has worn off on Friday morning. The group is all Clifton locals, with most from the CHS classes of 1999 and 2000. “We all celebrate Thanksgiving with our families the day before the game,” explained Freddie Nouri, a 2004 grad. “After the game, we pick a dinner spot to eat.” From left is Fred Nouri Sr., Hany Hamman, Daniel Neyra, Chris Turano, Anthony Khiami, Christian Guglielmini, Mike Edreos, George Noury, Andrew Jaeger. Bottom Row: Dan Poupart, Freddie Nouri, and Gianna Neyra. Not pictured is Bill Colligan, who also teaches at CHS.


December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

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Clifton Merchant • December 2015


T raditions & Memories Rich Meade Class of 2003 alumni Rich Meade stopped by the game with his brothers, Matt (2006) and Kevin (2010), to meet up with some old friends. The Meades are all former Clifton football players, so it was an extra bonus to see Clifton secure another win to cap off a successful season. “It’s nice coming here and seeing everyone before turkey,” he said. “I’m usually here at the games every year with my brothers. After, we go to my mother’s in Delawanna.”

Michelle Shackil Jeff Laux, Tim Laux, John Glass, Nick Surgent, Mark Surgent and Michelle Shackil. “It’s really a blessing in disguise to be able to come back every other year to play, reminisce, and catch up with old friends,” said Shackil, a 2013 graduate. “This band really is one giant family.”

Nina Sennert Klett The perfect day. Get up early. Get to the Mustang Band alumni practice. March with all the band kids, past and present. Sit in the stands, watching football, singing and cheering with the band and the cheerleaders. Clifton winning! Saying goodbye for two years, till the next home game. Be safe everyone. Now it’s turkey time! Yum. Family and friends, the best day ever.

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December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

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Clifton Merchant • December 2015


If you are spent with the commercialism of the holidays, then look around to see ways in which you can assist a neighbor, friend or those in need. A gift does not have to be a present or a monetary thing. It can be as simple as a visit to a homebound relative or neighbor. You can also pitch in and help out the community by being a volunteer at one or more of the Clifton organizations which provide an array of services for youth, seniors, cultural, or religious groups and other service organizations. But if sending a check is what you want to do, there are many organizations worthy of your support. Thus, when creating your holiday shopping list this year, consider adding a small donation to a local non-profit

organization, such as the Boys & Girls Club of Clifton—that’s their pre-school students pictured above in a file photo at the Avenue of Flags on Veterans Day. The Club provides a variety of services for Clifton kids from every neighborhood and is still a great place for social events, athletic programs, and after school activities. There are plenty of other ways to assist the needy. Several groups conduct toy and food drives during the first few weeks of December so that unfortunate families are able to celebrate, no matter their financial situation. Other charities are year-round programs, constantly in need of support. On the following pages, we’ll tell you about more ways you can give funds or volunteer.

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Clifton Merchant • December 2015


The 37th Annual Weichert Realtors of Clifton Toy Drive will continue through midmonth. Drop off a new, unwrapped toy at their offices at 791 Passaic Ave. at the Allwood Rd. intersection. Pictured at right are Tony Sanchez, Maureen Setteducato, and Frank Gorga. Toys and gifts will go to agencies serving underprivileged children in Clifton and the surrounding area. For info, call 973-779-1900. Deadline is Dec. 15 at 8 pm, so don’t delay. Assemblywoman Sheila Y. Oliver and Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin have coordinated their 6th annual holiday toy and book drive. Last year, children ages 3 to 15 were given more than 300 toys and books. Donations are being accepted through Dec. 15. Gifts should be unwrapped and will go to kids in programs at St. Peter’s Haven, the Clifton Boys & Girls Club and other facilities. Dropoff hours at Giblin’s office, 1333 Broad St., are 8:30 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday. For info, call 973-779-3125.

64 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

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which means Tomahawk Jr. is trained and nationally certified in restorative water drying methods by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, also known as IICRC. Clifton Merchant • December 2015


500 Kicks for St. Jude’s The Clifton Martial Arts Academy raised more than $2,400 last month for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital with its 2015 Kick-a-thon in Chelsea Park, with some late donations reportedly still coming in as December began. Every year, CMAA students do 500 kicks in an hour for the annual kick-a-thon. Participants get pledges by collecting 1, 2, or 5 cents per kick and all of the funds go to St. Jude’s for children’s cancer research and treatments. The Nov. 7 event was the fifth year CMAA has sponsored, with donations increasing more and more each

year despite the sluggish economic recovery that’s coincided with the annual event. “When I was a kid, I participated in events like this and it made an impression on me,” said Jim Meghdir, owner and chief instructor of CMAA on Bloomfield Ave. “These kids will remember days like today and pay it forward in the future as well. We are martial artists on and off the mat and this is our way of giving back to the community. I’m very proud of all the kickers, their families, and those that helped out but couldn’t be at the event.”

Clifton Firefighters FMBA 21 Annual Coat Drive has concluded, and hundreds of coats were collected then laundered by Deluxe Cleaners on Main Ave. and Saveway Cleaners on Allwood Rd. Once delivered to St. Peter’s Haven, the outerwear is finding a new use warming local men, woman and children. For those interested in helping further, the members of FMBA 21 and PBA 36 are now conducting their annual toy drive. Drop new, unwrapped toys at any firehouse.

66 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


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The Montessori Method “Whoever touches the life of the child touches the most sensitive point of a whole, which has roots in the most distant past and climbs toward the infinite future.”

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Kim Castellano believes that things can start with the Power of One. Over the last few years she has inspired many other Cliftonites to share that mantra and get involved. Through her Back2School Outreach and the Minds in Motion after school programs at School 12 on Clifton Ave., she is now running a food drive. Together, the two programs will provide a school pantry to help meet the basic needs for children in grades K to 5, so they can come to school after a healthy breakfast and be ready to learn. “Help by donating non-perishable food items, organize a food drive, or host a drop- off location,” said Castellano, who is also a Certified Life Coach. Donations of non-perishable food items and supplies run the range: hot or cold cereal, soup, canned fruit, healthy snacks, mac and cheese, meals in a can, juice boxes, toiletries, even school supplies. Donations can be dropped off during school hours at the pantry at School 12, 165 Clifton Ave., near Lexington Ave. Another drop off site is City Hall. To date, the Power of One outreach has sponsored more than 500 children in Clifton schools with back packs filled with supplies. This Thanksgiving, thanks to sponsors A-1 Affordable Construction and Amerigroup Real Solutions, the Back2School Outreach provided 20 families with a complete Thanksgiving dinner. “With your support this year,” said Castellano, “we will be able to create a ‘School Pantry’ and reach more children in need.” Power of One CCOM, Inc. is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. 68 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Girl Scout Jr. Troop 95322 organized and prepared the donated food items for the Thanksgiving Outreach. Pictured is Casey Wellins from School 14, Maria Calvi from St. Philips Prep, Sofia Carroll from School 13, and Kristy Wellins, Troop Leader. In the second photo, that’s Kim Castellano from Power of One with Councilwoman Lauren Murphy.

If your business or organization would like to help, contact Kim Castellano at 201-328-2326, or email her at A supply list with instructions are at

Attend, sponsor, or volunteer for the Clifton Super Bowl Family Day, which is Feb. 7, 2016. Now in its 19th year, the event is an alcohol, tobacco and gambling-free event held at the Boys & Girls Club. Prior to the game, there are parent/child games, an open gym, swimming and two really large tv screens to view the Super Bowl. And while you watch the champions from the AFC and NFC duke it out for the Lombardi Trophy, enjoy pizza, hot dogs, chips, soda and more. Admission is a bargain: to get in, bring a donation of canned goods, which will go to the St. Peter’s Haven food pantry. Volunteers are needed to set up and coordinate the event. To make all this happen, close to $4,000 needs to be raised and thus sponsors are needed. Since it began over a decade ago, Clifton Against Substance Abuse or CASA has been a donor, as have the PBA, FMBA, and the Optimist Club, as well as families, individuals, groups and businesses. In total, we need to raise an additional $2,100 and we do that by asking 21 groups and individuals to donate $100. Make checks to the Boys & Girls Club of Clifton, note: Super Bowl Party. To become a sponsor, call Tom Hawrylko at 973-253-4400. Mail or drop of your check at 1288 Main Ave., Clifton, NJ, 07011.

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Rev. Peter DeFranco with staff at St. Peter’s Haven.

St. Peter’s Haven, at 380 Clifton Ave., has been serving the community since 1986, when it was founded by members of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. The Haven provides a number of services, including shelter for 6 to 12 families annually. St. Peter’s also serves as Clifton’s food bank, providing hundreds of families with food staples. Food drives, charity events and donations make sure that the shelves are always fully stocked. The next time you go to the supermarket, make a bag or two of items such as peanut butter, tuna fish, pasta and sauce and other items which can provide those in need a sustaining meal. The folks at St. Peter’s also do a great job of purchasing items in bulk, so a financial contribution also goes far. Volunteers are needed to help unload a truck of dry goods, which comes in monthly. Call 973-546-3406 or go to

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Close to 8,000 boxes of everything from candies to toiletries have been shipped by Clifton Cares to our troops overseas during the organization’s five years of existence. The latest drive, which ended on Dec. 1 (see photo below), collected plenty of treats to be delivered just in time for the Christmas holiday. Thanks to the generosity of Cliftonites, the troops are appreciative, said Lizz Gagnon. “They go crazy for everything from Pringles to Wet Wipes and lip balm,” she noted. Clifton Cares has begun collecting for its Valentine’s Day delivery. The collection box is at City Hall. While chocolates and candy are appropriate donations for Valentine’s Day, financial contributions covering the costs of delivery are equally valuable. Mailing a package costs $15.90, so consider making an end-of-year postage donation, made to cash or to Lizz Gagnon. Mail donations to her at Clifton City Hall, 900 Clifton Ave., Clifton, NJ 07013. If you have questions, or would like to help in some other way, email or call Lizz Gagnon at 973-818-8141.

70 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Maria Sokolina, DDS of Harmony Dental Arts on Clifton Ave., pictured left with Lina Arias, collected 323 pounds of candy as part of Operation Gratitude. Like Clifton Cares, the group annually sends more than 150,000 care packages filled with snacks, entertainment, hygiene, and hand-made items, plus personal letters of appreciation, to US service members deployed overseas.

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


The Clifton Education Foundation seeks donations to benefit several programs in the public schools. The Marie L. Hakim Scholarship for Future Educators, named after the late Board of Education commissioner and former educator (inset), is given to a CHS student who plans to pursue a career in teaching. The Foundation also awards grants to staff, student groups and HSAs. To make a contribution, apply for a grant or get involved, call 973-470-2260. St. John’s Lutheran Church congregation members presented toiletries, personal care products and snacks to Clifton Cares to be packaged and sent to American military personnel serving in Afghanistan. The congregation made its presentation after the Nov. 1 worship service in the church’s Fellowship Hall, at 810 Broad St. The St. John’s congregation also donated money to defray the cost of shipping the varied items overseas.

Twins Natalie and Angely Quirino shown here before they got haircuts in the 10th Clifton Locks of Love.

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Have The 11th Annual Clifton Locks of Love Cut-A-Thon is on May 23 at Christopher Columbus Middle School. The event will be held in the CCMS Media Center from 8:30 am to 3 pm and is open to the public. Organized by CCMS teacher Kim Dreher, Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to those under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. Want to shed your locks? Get involved: call Kim Dreher at 973-769-0500 or email to save a seat. The Boys & Girls Club of Clifton has opened its doors to thousands of local youth since it beginnings in Botany Village over six decades ago. Today’s programs at the Clifton Ave. Club still include plenty of pool time, sports and social activities while a whole new educational aspect has been added. To continue their programs, the Club relies heavily on generous donations. The Annual Giving Campaign allows individuals to gift money to the Club, and also features an option for a company to match your donation. Call Development Director John DeGraaf at 973-773-2697 x111, write to him at, or go to

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Clifton Merchant • December 2015


They Perform A Capella in a Beautiful Voice

Thanks Neighbors & Clients, from the Genardi family! 74 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

CHS’s very own Madrigal Singers are set to add magic to this year’s holiday festivities throughout Clifton, performing in the style and spirit of the Renaissance period. These talented students learn and perform selections of music from the Renaissance and into other classical eras. Founded in the 1970s by Pearl Anderson, the Madrigals—notably under the direction of Barbara Novak for over two decades and now led by CHS Choral Director Christina Paulin— perform a capella. What makes their ‘voice’ so unique is that they do not perform in sections. Rather, they stand as a mixed group to create a blend of sounds and harmonies. Their Renaissance sensibility is carried through in their gowns, belts and hairpieces and you can see or hear them at tree lightings and concerts. On Dec. 4, the Madrigals have a hectic schedule of tree lightings with Santa: Lakeview at 5 pm, Botany Village at 6 and Downtown Clifton at 7. And then, pretty much without even a restorative mug of hot chocolate, it’s over to the Hamilton House at 8 pm with St. Nicholas for tours by period-appropriate candlelight.

On Dec. 6 at 5 pm, the help set the sound track for the official lighting of the city tree in front of the municipal building. It is a large and loud affair as Santa arrives on a fire truck and it goes on whatever the weather. Come Dec. 10 at 7:30 pm, the Mads have their Holiday Choral Concert in the CHS auditorium. Tickets are $2. Call 973-470-2311 for details. They go back on the road on Dec. 17 and 18 as the group will perform at various elementary schools and the two middle schools – potential future Madrigal members, no doubt. Some of these events listed here are outdoors, adding some winter stress on one’s voice. Since we think the Madrigals, pictured at left, are deserving of praise, we list them here, in alphabetical order: Mehmet Eroglu, Angelica Espinosa, Lillian Figueroa, Anthony Gonzalez, Maura Huelbig, Connor Mancini, Krystal Munesar, Marc Pannullo, Crista Pena, Steffanie Peralta. Madison Potash, Nerissa Rios-Garcia, Stephanie Rojas, Renuka Rupee, Roberto Sanchez and Mercedez Zea. To all the Madrigals, including the newest performers, our profound thanks.

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


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76 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

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Dance is as much of the holiday season as song is. At CHS, there is plenty of both. Clifton High School’s Dance 3 Advanced Intermediate class and Dance 4 (both are pictured here) will tour the Clifton Elementary and Middle schools Dec. 17 and 18. Choreography is by CHS Dance Teacher Lois Manzella-Marchitto. Students are led by senior Dance 4 students Heather Pastor and Dhiti Kapadia, among others. The performances give students the opportunity to give back to the community and give them experience with various audiences. The Mustang dance program consists of 68 young women and five young men. The dance program is made up of students of varying ethnic backgrounds. It includes beginner students, who have never stepped foot in a dance class, and professional level students who perform all over the world. The Dance Club focuses on student choreography, where students create their own pieces and then set them on their peers. The Dance Recital Club focuses on behind-thescenes work of the Dance Concert including lighting design, costumes, music, props, advertising and fundraising. A dance concert featuring a Broadway theme is scheduled for May 25, 2016.

Each month Vice Principals from each wing of Clifton High nominate select students to receive recognition as a Student of the Month. Profiles for this month are featured below.

Khadicha Atamuratova

Aided by the Annex Khadicha Atamuratova’s adjustment to American norms has had its ups and downs, but she credits Clifton High School Annex for making things easier. “The best thing about it is the teachers. They are really nice and fun and give off good energy,” said Atamuratova, a freshman at the Annex. Raised in Uzbekistan, Atamuratova arrived in America at age nine, where she entered School #13 as a fifth grader, speaking virtually no English. “But middle school was great. I went to Christopher Columbus Middle School and passed sixth grade with somewhat good grades,” she said. Her English improved in tandem with her grades as she completed Middle School and headed for CHS. Academics remain her priority. “I decided to join only one club for my freshman year and I selected Key Club,” she said. “I have also been playing tennis for the past seven years and decided not to join the team this year. “I knew that I would have a lot of schoolwork and no time for tennis, so I didn’t even try. I have a lot of work for my classes and I find them challenging. My favorite class is History. “My future aspirations are to graduate high school, go to a good college and become a veterinarian. I know there will be challenges for me on my way to becoming a vet, but I am ready to take them on,” she said. Adding a dose of optimism, she added, “In the end I think the good times will outweigh the bad ones.”

Shannon Leishman The sporting life Shannon Leishman makes no effort to hide her enthusiasm for sports. “The best thing about Clifton High School for me would have to be the sports,” she said. “If I could talk to younger students, I would encourage them to play any sport and get involved around the school.” So far, Leishman, a CHS East freshman, has followed suit. “My best experience in school was playing on the soccer team. It has opened up so many opportunities, given me so many new friends, and taught me discipline.” Logically enough, during the academic school day itself, “My favorite subject is Phys. Ed. It is my favorite part of the day and it always has been,” she said. It has taught me many different skills I use outside of school.” And when not in school? “I dance and I love to babysit,” Leishman said. “I don’t know what I want to become when I grow up, but I know that I definitely would like to do something with kids.” Leading the way CHS Central senior Pooja Patel asserted, “I have been in the marching band since freshman year. Band is a big part of my life. As majorette sergeant, I have built Clifton Merchant • December 2015


Students of the Month leadership skills and challenged myself physically and emotionally. The band is really my second family, and it’s bittersweet knowing this is my last year in it. “I am also in Girls Learn International. We advocate education and rights for girls in developing countries around the world. This club is what inspired me to pursue a career in human rights law,” she said. “I would like to attend a four year university and then law school to become a human rights lawyer and fight for women’s rights and educational rights in third world countries,” she said. “Outside of school, I am in an organization called Uplift Humanity India. Through Uplift, I joined 30 teenagers in a volunteer program in India. We taught character building/life skills to children at orphanages and juvenile detention centers. “The diversity among the student population is the best thing about

78 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

CHS. We accept the differences and coexist among each other. It’s really unique; I love that about Clifton High,” she said.

Pooja Patel

Rama Moulayes

Major and minor aspirations “I aspire toward completing a college education, majoring in Molecular Biology, then working my way toward a career in the field of medicine, either as a pharmacist or a doctor,” said Rama Moulayes. “I also hope to minor in either Journalism or Women and Gender Studies,” said Moulayes, a senior at CHS North. “English class has helped me to grow as an individual during high school because I was able to develop analytical skills and broaden my perspective through reading and writing,” she said. Moulayes added, “I feel passionate toward science as well because I grew

to appreciate the positive outcomes it’s the only freshman accepted into the had on society, and medicine.” musical. My success in this endeavor has “I enjoy volunteering outside of caused me to participate in all of the school at Compassionate Care Hospice, shows to follow during my time here at where I help with tasks where I’m needClifton High School, says Huelbig. a ed. I help out in the intake Department, senior at CHS South. medical billing and coding, as well as Besides Drama Club, Huelbig also Bereavement, where we offer condobelongs to Dance Club and the Dance lences and grief counseling to families Recital Club, adding, “I am also the Maura Huelbig of deceased patients of the hospice, manager of the CHS Swim Team.” through our Bereavement Support Group,” said In class, Huelbig enjoys History, crediting her famiMoulayes. ly’s journeys to numerous historic sites over several years, including trips to Philadelphia and Washington, Broadway bound? D.C., for spurring her interest. The bright lights beckon to Maura Huelbig. She noted, parenthetically, “Another factor that has “My future aspirations begin with me attending a contributed is the influence of certain media. The four year college/ university, to major in Theatre/ media’s influence extremely contributed to the love I Musical Theatre. I plan on graduating in the allotted hold for my favorite period in history, the time and then going to work on the stage. Eventually I Revolutionary War. hope to make it on to a Broadway stage and be in a “History holds such a place in my heart because of show,” she said. my desire to look into the past and learn how I may bet“To date, my best experience in Clifton High School ter my future and to compare whether or not we are occurred in the spring of my freshman year, when I was moving forward or backwards as a society,” she said.

Merry Christmas &Happy Holidays

Lauren Murphy Councilwoman Thank you for your support! paid for by Lauren Murphy for Clifton Council

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


Wrestling • Basketball • Hockey • Track • Bowling • Swimming



Wrestling Mustang Sports by Tom Szieber Clifton wrestling wasn’t able to repeat as North I, Group 4 state sectional champions last year, but it came very, very close. With a youthful roster comprised of exactly zero seniors, the Mustangs finished 18-5 and advanced all the way to the sectional final before falling to North Bergen. Nearly all of last year’s sectional runners-up are back for Clifton this winter, pictured above, with a strong belief that the team has a shot at recapturing the sectional crown it won just two seasons ago. 80 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

“I think we are definitely all in,” said Clifton head coach Dan Geleta. “We are going to go and try to win it all again. “At the end of the day, I don’t think any of the kids are going to have any regrets,” Geleta added. They have the same common goal.” As was the case a year ago, the strength of the Clifton lineup will come in the middle, anchored by senior 145-pounder Moe Farhan, who went 43-2 in 2014-15. Farhan figures to be a legitimate state title contender after finished fourth in

Dec 19 Dec 21 Dec 23 Dec 30 Jan 6 Jan 8 Jan 9 Jan 13 Jan 15 Jan 16 Jan 23 Jan 27 Jan 29 Jan 30 Feb 3 Feb 5 Feb 6

Invitational Tournament 10am @ Bergen Catholic 7pm @ Union City 5pm @ Bloomfield Xmas Tourn TBD @ River Dell 7pm @ Passaic Valley 7pm @ Ridgefield Park 10am @ PCTI 6pm Becton 5pm @ West Orange 10am @ West Milford TBD JFK 6pm @ Lakeland 7pm @ Kearny 9am Passaic 6pm @ Bloomfield 7pm @ Watchung Hills 9am

New Jersey last year. He comes into the season a defending county, region, and district champ. Similarly, senior 160-pounder

MUSTANG SPORTS Wrestling Patrick DePasque and junior 132-pounder James Murdoch come into the season with real ambitions of medaling in Atlantic City, as both put forth spirited efforts there last season. DePasque finished second in the county, district, and region last year, while Murdoch took second in Passaic County and District XV, and third in Region IV. “I hope we can have several guys medal this year,” Geleta said. “But before we get to that point, they are all aiming to reach the team goals first. “This year’s captains want to be the leaders in the room and capture a team championship first, and once they do that, then yes, it is all about reaching those individual goals,” the head coach said. Several other Mustangs, including junior A.J. Tudda, will look to make bigger impacts this season, as well. The 126-pounder took second-place honors in District XV and Passaic County last year. Tudda is expected to be one factor bolstering the Clifton lineup at a heavier class. The same can be said for senior 170-pounder Tibi Rizea, and also for junior 285-pounder Jacob Abill, who are now seasoned veterans. For the Mustangs to stay competitive at a high level,

they’ll need more production at the light weights. To that end, they are hopeful freshman Cole Ceneri and sophomore Matthew Perez can achieve that at 106. Sophomore Matthew DePasque, senior Chris Zaccone, and freshman Ricky Moultrie will fill in the 113- and 120-pound slots. Clifton also needs production from the heavier classes, as well, from the likes of 182-pound sophomore Hunter Flores, junior 195-pounder Anaes Allan, and senior 220-pounder Dan Parra. Last year’s season paled only by comparison to the stellar 2013-2014 season, when the Mustangs went 19-3, won the North I, Group 4 championship, and sent seven grapplers to the NJSIAA individual state tournament in Atlantic City. Despite the disappointment of coming three points shy of a second straight title sectional title last season, Clifton has a myriad of weapons returning to the mat who are battle-hardened and hungry. With so much experience from so many talented athletes, it is no surprise that Geleta and crew believe there’s a good chance they’ll be raising hardware once again come season’s end.

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


MUSTANG SPORTS Girls Basketball

CHS Girls

Basketball From left front: Arianna Riley, Angelina Tejeda, Brittany Morales and Cat Jordan. From rear left: Ariella Morrison, Yehsehn Henry, Emily Ulczak, Jordan Rivera, Hannah Hirst and Stephanie Arroyo.

Clifton girls basketball may have lost its biggest star in recent program history to graduation, but head coach Craig Alfano and the Mustangs have laid the groundwork during the last three years for continued success. Kelly Douglass and her record 1,375 points have made their way to the University of Hartford, but a rising sophomore and a crop of talented seniors hope to fill the void and make another trip to the North 1, Group 4 playoffs. “Realistically, athletically, we will hang with everybody,” said Alfano. “We may struggle a bit putting the ball in the basket, and in our league, you have to score. I think opening night against Bergen Tech will be one of the most important games, so we can see where we are. But the program is in good shape.” Much of Alfano’s optimism comes from the presence of 5’10” sophomore Jordan Rivera. A left-handed point guard, she is pegged to be Clifton’s goto threat with Douglass gone. Rivera was an Honorable Mention All-Passaic player a year ago, and a 2nd-Team All-Big North Liberty honoree. 82 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Dec 18 Dec 22 Dec 28 Dec 29 Dec 31 Jan 5 Jan 7 Jan 9 Jan 12 Jan 14 Jan 16 Jan 19 Jan 21 Jan 23 Jan 26 Jan 28 Feb 1 Feb 4 Feb 9 Feb 11 Feb 16 Feb 18 Feb 23

Bergen Tech 4:30pm @ Passaic 4:30 pm @ PV Tourn 2:30pm Lakeland Tourn 11 am @ Wayne Val @ PVHS 11 am PCTI 4:30pm @ JFK 7pm @ Fair Lawn 1pm Eastside Paterson 4:30pm @ Wayne Valley 7pm @ Dickinson 1pm @ Holy Angels 7pm Wayne Hills 4:30pm @ Kearney 2pm West Milford 4:30pm @ West Essex 7pm @ Bergen Tech 7pm Passaic 4:30pm @ PCTI 4pm JFK 4:30pm @ Eastside 7pm DePaul 4:30pm West NY Memorial 6pm

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


MUSTANG SPORTS Girls Basketball “I think she is ready to take the next step,” said Alfano. “If she continues to improve, she will score 1,000 points in her career. She has

84 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

a knack for getting to the basket. She has to improve her outside shot and some other aspects of her shooting, but she knows that and she is already working hard.” Senior Brittany Morales provides depth and leadership, as she can play the point as well as the two. At 5’7” with three years of experience, she is a major asset and is in great shape. Morales is an AllPassaic soccer player, as well. Playing the inside will be senior Emily Ulczak, now a three-year varsity starter. Capable of playing center and forward, Ulczak is a presence on the court at six feet tall, but has the athleticism of a much smaller player. “Emily has developed a nice outside shot,” said Alfano. “She needed to work on physicality and post play, as well as

scoring on post, and she’s done that. She has a nose for the ball and rebounds well.” Clifton also has a superb athlete in senior Catherine Jordan, who transferred from Immaculate Heart Academy as a sophomore. At 5’9,” she is one of the fastest players and off-the-ball defenders on the Mustangs’ roster. Clifton thus seems poised to build on last season, when it went 15-14 (its most wins since 199192). and qualified for the North 1, Group 4 tournament before bowing out against Morris Knolls. “I think the program is in good shape,” Alfano said. “Because with a player like Jordan, if we can put some good players around her, I think we [can do some good things].”

Come and see why so many Clifton students are making PC their high school of choice!

• 140 Courses, Including 20 AP Classes • STEM Program with over 40 courses • New Music Conservatory for the Marching Band and 80-Member Orchestra • Vibrant Campus Ministry, Retreat, and Community Service Programs • Numerous educational trips across the nation and around the globe • Cost Effective Tuition • Bus Service provided

Clifton students from these classes earned over $6.5 million in scholarships! Clifton Merchant • December 2015


MUSTANG SPORTS Boys Basketball

From left: Tyler White, Delano Dixon, Chris Bonaparte, Luis Rodriguez, Brandon Sanchez. Second row: Danny Santana, Sean Lyons, Harton Stephenson, Muhammad Mustafa.

In his third year at the helm of the Clifton boys basketball team, head coach Mike Rivera finds himself with a young but talented squad that he hopes can improve on a rough 2014-15. The Mustangs have seemingly been in a rebuild for quite a while, but Rivera feels the team’s attitude has changed enough that it may be able to will its way to several additional wins this winter. “The competition that we have in our practices, with these guys pushing each other, shows me how intense they can play,” Rivera said. “Ultimately, size and talent wins, but if you can match the intensity and work on your skills, you can hang with people.” Leading the effort on the floor will be junior small forward Sean Lyons. Clifton’s best shooter, he has expanded his repertoire from a year ago. Previously a player who was heavily reliant on spot-up attempts, the 6’3” Lyons has worked at driving to the basket and getting to the free throw line. “From a style and growth standpoint, Sean reminds me a lot of [current Los Angeles Clippers and former Duke University guard] J.J. Redick in college,” Rivera said. “I see his game in Sean. Instead of just settling for threes, 86 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

CHS Boys

Basketball Dec 18 Dec 22 Jan 5 Jan 7 Jan 9 Jan 12 Jan 14 Jan 16 Jan 19 Jan 21 Jan 23 Jan 26 Jan 28 Feb 1 Feb 4 Feb 9 Feb 11 Feb 12 Feb 16 Feb 18 Feb 20 Feb 25

@ Bergen Tech Passaic @ PCTI JFK Fair Lawn @ Eastside Bergen Catholic Dickinson West Milford @ Wayne Hills Kearny @ Wayne Valley West Essex Bergen Tech @ Passaic PCTI @ JFK Ferris Eastside @ DePaul Nutley Paramus

7pm 4pm 4pm 4:15pm 1pm 7pm 4pm 2pm 4:15pm 7pm 2pm TBD 4:15 pm 4:30pm 4pm 4pm 7pm 4:30 pm 4:30pm 7pm 1pm 6pm

he has moves to the basket, countermoves, and a lot more now.” The Clifton backcourt will feature sophomore point guard Tyler White. He headlines a trio of skilled players at that position, including junior Luis Rodriguez and freshman Dallas Strickland. White is a player Rivera lauds for his coachability and leadership, and has been impressed with his “student of the game” mentality. Rodriguez, meanwhile, is one of the Mustangs’ most skilled and athletic players, and Strickland is one of best raw talents to step on the Clifton hardwood in some time. The frontcourt is small, but junior power forward/center Harten Stephenson is a long, physical player that can jump for rebounds. He will be Clifton’s go-to guy on the inside, but the Mustangs are hoping a duo of senior football players—Maurice Greene and Chris Boneparte—can provide some depth and muscle down low. Speaking of football players, junior wide receiver Delano Dixon will play both point guard and shooting guard for CHS basketball once he has fully transitioned over from his fall playoff season. Dixon and junior forward Danny Santana figure to be wild cards for a team looking for as many weapons as possible. Realistically, Rivera knows that wins will come as a result of hustle and smart shooting, as Clifton lacks the brute force in the paint to compensate for bad shooting. Still, he believes he has seen enough promise in his young group to believe that progress will be obvious in his third campaign. “Having had these guys for a year already, I don’t have to teach from step one,” Rivera said. “Now, these kids already know it. It’s about teaching them details. It is tough without a true big guy, but I am hopeful that they can minimize turnovers, realize they can’t miss a boxout, dive for balls. We have guys who can shoot the ball, so if we can do that, we can surprise some teams.” Clifton Merchant • December 2015



From left, Brett Finan, Jason Finan, Tyler Gibson, James Fusaro, Nick Petriella, Shawn Meneghin.

Shawn Meneghin, a junior, and Brett There is a lot of youth on the Clifton CHS Finan, a senior. Meneghin was a secice hockey team, and although there ond team All-Passaic player last winwill surely be some growing pains, the ter, and Finan was a forward last year Mustangs should be a fun team to Nov 28 Millburn 5:30pm but will move back to defense this watch. Competing in a difficult Big Dec 4 River Dell 7:10pm year. The two are what Danko calls North Patriot Division with the likes Dec 5 @ Ridgewood 9:15pm Dec 9 @ Jefferson 8:15pm “the backbone of [Clifton’s] defense.” of Ridgewood, Paramus Catholic, Dec 11 Bayonne 5:30pm Sophomore right wing Nick River Dell, Fair Lawn, and Passaic Dec 18 @ Passaic Valley 5:30pm Petriella (who scored a hat trick in the Valley, Clifton will have its work cut Dec 19 West Orange 7:10pm Dec 21 @ Fair Lawn 7:50pm opening day tie against Millburn) will out for it, but a 3-3 tie against an expeDec 23 Lenape Valley 12:30pm provide scoring for the Mustangs, and rienced Millburn squad on opening Dec 29 Wayne Valley 2:50pm has shown a knack for getting the puck day shows that they are ready to comJan 2 Ridgewood 7:10pm Jan 8 Paramus Catholic 5:30pm to the net. He will be buoyed by a duo pete. Jan 11 @ Bayonne 3pm of talented freshmen in center James “We are rebuilding a bit,” said Jan 22 Fair Lawn 4:20pm Fusaro and left wing Jason Finan. head coach Tom Danko. “We mostly Jan 23 @ Millburn@Cody 6pm Jan 29 Vernon 7:10pm “Nick last year got better as the seahave a freshman and sophomore Jan 31 @ Paramus Catholic 7:15pm son went along and finished strong,” group. We are a fairly young team, Feb 5 @ River Dell TBD Danko said. “We are looking for him to but we have something we can work Feb 6 Passaic Valley 7:10pm Feb 12 @ Hillsborough 7:20 pm continue that trend. James and Jason with and develop it into something.” look good early on and look like they Junior Tyler Gibson, who is comare going to contribute. They are all dangerous players ing off a fairly strong year last year, enters his third year around the net. Depth might hurt us a little bit, but the as Clifton’s starting goalie. Always solid, Gibson was a guys are working hard and I think we will be able to second team All-Passaic County player last year. manage just fine.” Providing him with support will be defensemen


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Clifton Merchant • December 2015




Track It is another year, another set of high expectations for head coach Mike Rogers and the Clifton indoor track teams. The Mustangs girls and boys took second and seventh place in Passaic County last season, and come into this winter hoping to maintain the standard of excellence they have held for so many years. As far as the Mustang girls go, the foundation for another run at the county crown is certainly there. Junior Meghan Jozefczyk will be Clifton’s top athlete despite never before competing during the indoor season. As a sophomore last year, she was the girls individual cross country Passaic County champion, but suffered an injury near the end of the fall that prevented her from competing in the winter. Now healthy, she will be a fixture in the 800-meter and 1600-meter heats. “I’m pretty interested to see what she can do,” Rogers said. “When we saw her in the spring as a freshman we realized what she could do, and 90 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

it’ll be exciting to watch.” Senior Monika Dlugosz will throw the shot put for Clifton, and has great success in that event outdoors. She should be able to compete for league, county, and state titles. In addition, seniors Kristen and Samantha Wong—both standout gymnasts—will be key members of the squad, competing in pole vault, hurdles, and jumping events. Senior Allison Proszowski is a pole vaulter and distance runner, while senior Chelsea Robinson will compete in the 55-, 200-, and 400meter. Senior Megan Davey will run distance events, and her classmate, Kamila Ivashka, will jump. Sophomores Hadeel Alshujaieh and Alenys Morales will both be part of the lineup, as well. “We expect the girls to be in a similar spot as last year,” Rogers said. “I think they definitely have a strong senior class, a very strong sophomore class. We have a lot of depth in a lot of events.”

Dec 20 Dec 22 Dec 30 Jan 5 Jan 8 Jan 9 Jan 12 Jan 13 Jan 18 Jan 20 Jan 22 Jan 24 Feb 1 Feb 4 Feb 9 Feb 14

@ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @

Rothman Center 9am Rothman Center 4:30pm 168th St. Armory 10am Rothman Center 4pm Rothman Center 4:30pm Garfield High School 10am Rothman Center 4:30pm Rothman Center 4:30pm Garfield High 6pm Rothman Center 4:30pm Rockland Cty CC 4:30pm 168th St. Armory 5pm 168th St. Armory 6pm Rothman Center 4:30pm Rothman Center 4:30pm Bennett Center 9am

On the boys side, seniors Ken Herrera and Alex Zapata will spearhead the effort in distance events. Junior Carlos Polanco will run distance, as well, while sophomore Kevin Heredia will represent the Mustangs in the 400, 800, and 1600. Sophomore Sunny Ruiz will throw shot, and Adrian Echeverria will high jump and long jump. “We want to finish in the top three in the league and the top three in the county,” said Rogers of the Mustangs’ goals. “It’s hard to determine on paper, but we should be right in it.”

Facing page from left front: Vanessa Acevedo, Deena Khandakar, Joanna Szewczyk, Chelsea Robinson, Emily Ibarra. Back row from left: Chinue Thompson, Kamila Ivashka, Monika Dlugosz, Megan Davey, Hannah Anolik, Aarian Weekes.

On this page from left front: Samantha Wong, Kristen Wong, Allison Proszowski, Nee-Yah Corbin, Kenneth Herrera. Second row from left: Michael Louie, Suraj Patel, Ryan Murphy, Jose Soso, Julio Moreno.

Clifton Merchant • December 2015




Bowling In front, Nicholas Vilardi and Bryan Cammerino. Standing from left, Emani Johnson, Joseph Paolillo, Johann Gamo, Glorimer Obando, Marvin DeGuzman, Natalie Valdez, Veronica Viera and Gabby Pangaro.

Last season, the Clifton girls bowling team surprised observers with a 12-2 record, a second-place finish in the Passaic County Tournament, and a berth in the North, Group 4 state tournament. This year, with a solid core returning, the Mustangs won’t be sneaking up on anybody. “We should be competitive again,” said veteran head coach Brian Small. “If everybody bowls what they bowled last year, then we should be just fine.” The Mustang girls will be led by junior Gabby Pangaro, a first-team All-Passaic County bowler last year. She finished second individually in the Passaic County Tournament, and bowled a 575 series in the North, Group 4 tourney. 92 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

The latter earned Pangaro a spot in the individual state tournament. She’ll be flanked by senior Veronica Viera, senior Glorimer Obando, and junior Natalie Valdez—who Small praises as a terrific leader. Meanwhile, the boys will look to follow the girls’ lead, with several veterans returning in a quest to improve on a ninth-place finish in the county. Among them is senior Nick Vilardi, who bowled a respectable 540 series in the county tournament a year ago. Vilardi will be joined in the lineup by another senior, Bryan Cammerino. Two freshmen will round out the Clifton boys lineup—Johann Gamo and Joe Taolillo. Small is high on

Dec 9 Dec 10 Dec 16 Dec 17 Dec 21 Jan 4 Jan 7 Jan 11 Jan 15 Jan 19 Jan 21 Jan 22 Jan 28 Feb 1

Bergen County Tech Passaic John F. Kennedy PCTI DePaul Wayne Hills Fair Lawn West Milford Eastside Paterson Bergen County Tech John F. Kennedy Passaic Eastside Paterson PCTI

4pm 4pm 4pm 4pm 4pm 4pm 4pm 4pm 4pm 4pm 3pm 4pm 4pm 4pm

these two newcomers, who averaged a 198 and 206, respectively, this preseason. “If things continue, we should be up there,” Small said of the Mustangs’ ability to compete for a division title. “And for them (Gamo and Taolillo) to come out in their first year and do that, along with several other freshmen, is great for us and our future,” Small said.


From left front: Nicole Toxtli, Steph Bienkewicz, Dana Wehmann. Rear left: Oliver Quizon, Dean Manomat, Brian Kommer, Patrick Kowalczyk, Bryan Ferro.

Both Clifton swimming squads last season were in the middle of the pack in both Passaic County and the Big North Liberty Division. Head coach Craig Casperino is hopeful that a bigger roster and some strong swimmers in the underclass will propel the Mustangs into contention this year. “As a whole, our team is a lot stronger,” said Casperino, who took over the team a year ago from his former high school coach at CHS, Andrea Bobby. “We have about six more swimmers. We have depth, and the sophomore and junior classes are much bigger. I think we definitely can turn some heads this year.” The girls, who took third place in both the league and county a year ago, will follow the lead of Stephanie Bienkewitz, who usually swims the 200-yard individual medley. Bienkewitz earned Honorable Mention All-Passaic County honors

last season, and figures to improve in her senior campaign. Fellow senior Janice Costa will be another key Mustang in the pool, her specialty being the 100-yard butterfly. Among the other senior girls standouts will be seniors Dana Wehman—primarily a 100-yard backstroker—and Nicole Toxtli. “Dana is an asset because she is easy to coach and always in good spirits,” Casperino said. “And Nicole has improved by a ton over the last several years. She is coachable and never misses practice.” On the boys end, several AllPassaic swimmers return. Among them is junior David Herrera, who competes in the 100-freestyle 100butterfly, 400-freestyle relay and 200-freestyle relay. Herrera was an Honorable Mention All-Passaic honoree in 2014-15. “David has always been a strong swimmer,” said Casperino. “We are


Swimming Dec 1 Dec 3 Dec 7 Dec 10 Dec 15 Dec 17 Dec 18 Dec 29 Jan 6 Jan 7 Jan 14 Jan 19 Jan 22 Jan 26 Jan 27 Feb 2

@ PCTI 3:30pm Mahwah 3:30pm @ PCTI 3pm @ West Essex 7:30pm Passaic 3:30pm Montville 3:30pm @ DePaul@PCTI 6pm @ Union City 10am @ Fair Lawn 3:45pm @ Hackensack 4pm Wayne Hills 3:30pm Wayne Valley 3:30pm @ Kearny 3:45pm Ridgewood 3:30pm Big North Tourn TBA @ Paramus Catholic 4pm

hoping he will break the CHS record for the 100-yard butterfly (:58.61).” Herrera will be joined by junior Daniel Loukachouk, a fellow Honorable Mention recipient, who competes in the 100-backstroke and 100-butterfly. Senior Brian Kommer, an A-lane swimmer who ended up on the All-Passaic second team last year, will be back, as will sophomore Antonios Stolopous. Clifton Merchant • December 2015 93

SUPPORT THE TROOPS Honoring veterans is a legacy in Clifton as the Nov. 8 parade along Van Houten Ave. illustrated. Hundreds of marchers, including Grand Marshal Mario, at left, were honored, as festivities concluded with a march into the Avenue of Flags. Enjoy the photos!

94 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant


Clifton Merchant • December 2015


Nov Veterans Parade


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Our community’s diversity is truly our strength. Celebrate Clifton. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays. Councilman Steve Hatala Clifton Merchant • December 2015


Nov Veterans Parade


98 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


Nov Veterans Parade


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As 2015 comes to an end and the holiday season is upon us, I want to express my gratitude for your support. Being elected to the City Council has been an honor and I look forward to serving with my six colleagues. My family has been blessed to be involved in Clifton in many ways and it is a tradition I am proud to continue. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays! Ray Grabowski Clifton City Councilman Clifton Merchant • December 2015


Nov Veterans Parade


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City Councilman Bill Gibson & his wife Robin with 2015 CHS grad Billy Jr. who is in Air Force Boot Camp, & Tyler, a CHS Junior.

Merry Christmas & Season’s Greetings from The Gibson Family Clifton Merchant • December 2015


Shown here are Christmas Cards highlighting the striking wintertime beauty of Soyuzivka, nestled in the Shawangunk Mountains in Kerhonkson, NY, evocative of Ukraine’s Carpathian Mountains. The Ukrainian National Foundation (UNF), working with Tomahawk Promotions of Clifton, produced packets of 12 cards and envelopes, and distributed them to UNA members throughout the US. Recipients are asked to send a donation of $25, to fund ongoing work maintaining and upgrading the facility for future generations. To purchase cards, call 800-253-9862, ext. 3071.

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Clifton Merchant • December 2015


Ukrainian Famine

The Holodomor A deep trauma in Ukrainian history, one that the world knows very little about, is the politically motivated famine of 1932-33, the Holodomor. Millions of Ukrainians were brutally starved to death, dying at the rate of 28,000 per day. Soviet dictator Josef Stalin executed a strategy of mass and forced starvation to destroy Ukrainians, in particular peasants, who were fiercely resisting the Communist Party takeover of their land. Then for decades, the Soviet regime attempted to cover up this genocidal famine. Now a memorial to the victims of the Holodomor stands in Washington, D.C. More than 50 members of the Ukrainian community of Clifton-Passaic traveled there on Nov. 7 to join thousands of other guests at the memorial dedication ceremony. Congressman Bill Pascrell was one of the key supporters of the legislation that authorized the construction of this memorial on Federal land, built as a reminder that starvation must never be used as a political weapon. Speaking at the dedication, memorial architect Larysa Kurylas said: “My hope is that people will pause to reflect on the Holodomor, a famine of sinister proportions, a famine deliberately executed and cynically denied, a famine in which millions of innocent victims perished ... a deliberate famine, one intended to cripple an entire people.” 106 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

After the dedication, the visitors from CliftonPassaic (above) met with Air Force Attaché Colonel Serhij Panchenko, from the Embassy of Ukraine, and with several Ukrainian soldiers currently undergoing rehabilitation treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. These soldiers were injured in eastern Ukraine, casualties of the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine that began in 2014. At a fundraiser organized by the group New Ukrainian Wave-Passaic in October, held at the church center of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church, several thousands of dollars were raised to donate to the soldiers and their families. The donations were given to the soldiers on Nov. 7.

The Chopin Singing Society (in a file photo) will perform in Passaic on Dec. 6 in memory of past Society presidents John A. Budzinski and Stanley A. Kobylarz. The choir was founded in 1910 in honor of Fryderyk Chopin’s 100th birthday.

The Chopin Singing Society will hold its annual Christmas Concert on Dec. 6 at 3 pm in the Polish Peoples’ Home, 1-3 Monroe St., Passaic. The concert is in memory of past presidents John A. Budzinski and Stanley A. Kobylarz. Tickets are $30 and include a hot buffet. For tickets or information, call 973-546-3568. The chorus, currently under the direction of Anthony Tabish, was founded on March 10, 1910 to honor the 100th anniversary of Fryderyk Chopin’s birth. The group’s first performance was a commemorative for Polish veterans of the 1830 revolt against Russian occupation. Some of the Society’s highlights include achieving the highest score at the international choral competitions of the Polish Singers’ Alliance of America. That earned the group the traveling Cardinal Hlond Trophy, making them the choir to win the award three times, twice in succession. In 1997 and 1998, the Society was featured in the Jimmy Stuff Christmas show tour, which culminated in a performance at the Taj-Mahal in Atlantic City. Clifton Merchant • December 2015


History & Arts The Theater League of Clifton (TLC) and the Clifton Arts Center present Waiting for Christmas on Dec. 5 and 6, at the Clifton Arts Center, 900 Clifton Ave., on the City Hall campus, and sponsored by Clifton Savings Bank. Tickets at, or by phone at 973-928-7668. Tickets to the Dec. 5 show at 7 pm are $55, and guests will also enjoy wine, beer, and hot and cold hors d’oeuvres. The Dec. 6 matinee at 3:30 pm is scheduled to end prior to the Clifton Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at City Hall. Tickets Dec. 6 are $10, with children under 12 free. The Theater League of Clifton will hold auditions Dec. 15 and 16 for its annual murder-mystery dinner theater. Tryouts are 7:30 pm to 9 pm each evening at the Clifton Arts Center in the City Hall Complex. The Multiple Mystery Murder, by Kirk Woodward, features a cast of seven. Adults of any age or gender can try out for any of the roles. Show dates are Feb. 26, 27, and 28, and March 4, 5, and 6, 2016. Friday and Saturday shows begin at 8 pm; Sunday shows commence at 4 pm. Mario’s Restaurant, 710 Van Houten Ave., will be the stage setting for all shows. Call 973-928-7668. The second annual Gingerbread House Competition features homemade gingerbread house submitted by contestants age 6 to 16. Entries can be brought to Lambert Castle, Tuesday Dec. 8 through Friday Dec. 11, between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm. Call 973-247-0085, ext. 207 to arrange a delivery time. All houses entered will be on display in Lambert Castle (home of the Passaic County Historical Society) at 3 Valley Rd., Paterson, from Dec. 16 to Jan. 3. All houses will be accepted. Children aged 10 and under and their families are welcome to Lambert Castle for Story-telling and Sing-a-long with Santa and Mrs. Claus on Dec. 13 from 1 pm to 3 pm. Join the two as they read holiday stories and sing holiday songs. Refreshments will be served. Admission is $15 for one child and one adult. Additional children and adults are $5 each. Call 973-247-0085. 108 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton City Historian Don Lotz visited School 9 on Nov. 12, giving third graders advance notice of Clifton’s centennial in 2017 and teaching them some of the city’s vibrant and significant history during the past 100 years. For those adults seeking to keep up with their children, Clifton’s Walk through History Part III features historical photos and memorabilia and remains on display at the Clifton Arts Center Gallery through Dec. 5. Curated by Lotz, the exhibit conveys Clifton’s story from the end of World War II to the celebration of our Nation’s Bicentennial in 1976. Photographs and artifacts provide a visual story and a glance from 1945 through the bicentennial year. Visitors are encouraged to share their stories of this era with Clifton Historical Commission members. The

Gallery is open 1 to 4 pm, Wed. to Sat. Admission is $3 for non-members. Plans for the city’s centennial celebration already are under way, arriving sooner than many might think. Clifton Centennial’s first event will be on April 17, 2016. While our hometown actually turns 100 in 2017, efforts are already under way to raise funds. Chairs Vivian Lalumia and Elaine Yaccarino are organizing a kickoff family dinner and beefsteak at the Boys & Girls Club. A sampling of events from April 2016 to November 2017 include a cultural picnic, trips to Ellis Island, concerts and, of course, a fantastic parade. Fundraisers being planned include a calendar, remembrance sun catchers, plates, and an ad journal.

Clifton Merchant • December 2015


Events & Briefs Valley National Bank’s home ownership seminar on Nov. 17 was held at it branch in Styertowne Shopping Center. Territory Sales Manager Sonia Amorim and Realtor Sham Mazejy presented steps to the home buying process, from what first-timers can expect during the application process, to advantages of home ownership as well as fees and mortgage products. Other free seminars are planned. Visit or call 800-522-4100. Save A Life: Prevent a Heroin/ Opioid Overdose is a free training and education class at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, 703 Main St., Paterson on Dec. 16 at 7 pm. If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid use, the class may help save someone’s life. On average, 46

110 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

On Nov. 17, Valley National Bank held a seminar for first time home buyers at its Styertowne Shopping Center brnach. From left, Candice Surace and Sonia Amorim of Valley with Coldwell Banker Realtor Sham Mazejy and Valley’s Lina Martinez.

Americans die each day from prescription opioid overdoses, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). Through this training for people of any age, one can the learn signs and symptoms of an overdose, the importance of calling 911 immedi-

ately, how to perform rescue breathing, and also how to administer NARCAN (Naloxone), the overdose reversal medication. In addition, attendees will receive a free Overdose Prevention Kit, including NARCAN. Class size is limited. To attend, call 973-754-3000.

On Nov. 18, the Clifton and Passaic Optimist Clubs sponsored a hot dog night as a prelude to the Thanksgiving Game. Football players, cheerleaders and band members from both schools attended the event, held at the Athenia Vets Hall. From left are Passaic Coach Doug Dudek and Indian captains Quamir Williams, Genaro Delgado, Royce Fransisco, Yonathon Martinez and Tyshawn Bunting. Mustangs are Otto DeLeon, Maurice Greene and Adam Miranda with Coach Ralph Cinque.

Elks Growing Antlers on Clifton Avenue By Joe Hawrylko Known for its involvement with special needs children, the Clifton Elks are one of the foremost charitable organizations in Passaic County. Now the Elks are looking to bolster membership through a youth organization, the Clifton Antlers. On Dec. 11, the Clifton Elks will hold an open house at 775 Clifton Ave., from 7 to 9 pm. The only stipulation is that members be young men between 12 and 20. Jim Smith, 51, past exalted ruler (1992) and current treasurer, hopes that by recruiting during the holidays, young people who don’t normally volunteer during the rest of the year might be interested. “It’s the holiday season, it’s a time of helping and giving. Also at this time, we’re going to get a lot of kids who are in college that aren’t 21 yet who will be at home,” he said. “There’s no stipulations; they can be as active as they want to be if they have school or other commitments. However, it would be great if someone saw what how great this is and became more active, or their parents became active. “This program started at least 30 years ago, and then went through a lull. A lot of lodges either dissolved their programs or they weren’t active,” said Smith. “Over the last five years there has been a big push to

start these up and we will be the 29th in the state.” The main Clifton Elks organization currently has more than 145 members. Smith, a Phys. Ed. and technology teacher at St. Andrews for more than 17 years, said the best way to get new members is to get young people interested in charity early on. “My brother, Pete Smith, was involved and asked me to get involved as well,” he said. “Twenty-nine years later I am still here. “Special needs children and veterans are our two main areas, and we’d like to restart things like our Christmas party. But at the same time the Antlers will be able to make their own traditions, and there will be fun activities and trips for the group as well,” he said. “I started out real young, coaching Little League and all aspects of recreation sports in town, so I felt this was a good fit for me, especially with how active the Elks were in youth sports.” “One of the members is a former student of mine, Matt Wangrycht, who is from Clifton and currently attending Seton Hall University,” Smith said. “Matt has been involved with us the last six or seven years, and he’s brought friends to help out, and many have joined us now.” For more information, contact Jim Smith at 973473-9752 or Clifton Merchant • December 2015


Birthdays & Celebrations - December 2015

Christina Kedl celebrates on Dec. 13. That Athenia gem Greg Lacki is 59 on Dec. 5. Anthony ‘Tony’ O’Connor is 71 on Dec. 4 and his granddaughter Vivian Margaret Taras will celebrate her 3rd birthday on Dec. 16. Noelani Coronel turns 16 on Dec. 9th.

Birthdays & Celebrations

Send dates & Marc Fazio ......................12/1 Ann W. Kissel...................12/1 Corinne Miskowsky ...........12/1 Mannan Amin ..................12/2 Mike Gerardi ...................12/2 Lauren Lawler ...................12/2 Bryan Nolasco .................12/2 Allison Ahdieh ..................12/3 Patrick Lotorto...................12/3 Bridget Rice......................12/3 Sharon Tichacek ...............12/3 Phyllis Galambos ..............12/4 Timothy Gumann...............12/4 Michael Kester..................12/4 Dave Sternbach ................12/4 Michael Vinciguerra ..........12/4 Rosemary Kuruc................12/5 Gregory Lacki...................12/5 Laura Mikolajczyk .............12/5 Michael Ressetar...............12/5 Pat Collucci ......................12/6 Debbie Gorny ..................12/6 Marilyn Gossinger ............12/6 Noel Coronel ...................12/7 Margaret Kungl ................12/7 Mark Mecca.....................12/7 Robert Raichel ..................12/8

Chris Sadowski.................12/8 Jamie Osmak....................12/9 Daniel Fonesca Ramos.......12/9 Mark Surgent ...................12/9 Andrew Tichacek ..............12/9 Tyler Roger Vandenberghe....12/9 Michael McEnerney ........12/10 Bob Snelson ...................12/10 Joey Cofone ...................12/11 Kathleen M. Marshall ......12/11 Diane Meyer ..................12/11 Joseph Rutigliano ............12/11 Richard Peterson .............12/12 Andy Kent ......................12/13 Danny La Gala ...............12/13 Ray Capilli .....................12/14 Mary Kate Kuruc.............12/14 Michael Murolo ..............12/14 Basil Worhach ................12/14 Steven Crawford .............12/15 Marie Visicaro................12/15 David Brock ...................12/16 Michael Hrina ................12/16 Hannah Grace Kulesa .....12/17 Jacqueline Gencarrelli .....12/18 Anne Gerardi .................12/18 Samantha Bassford .........12/19

112 December 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Zora Molnar is celebrating her 90th birthday on Dec. 14 in Columbia, Mo., with daughter Vera, granddaughter Ramona Weidel Huckstep, her husband Scott, and their daughters Logan and Savanna. Nick Link ...................... 12/19 Jayen Montague .............12/19 Jessie Ducos ...................12/20 Amy Marino ...................12/21 Michelle McEnerney ........12/22 Suman Pinto ...................12/22 Joey Cristantiello .............12/24 Soumya Gunapathy ........12/24

Vincent and Mary Colavitti celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Nov. 6 with their three sons and four grandchildren.

Sarah Lombardo, who many will remember as the welcoming voice of Clifton City Hall, turns 88 on Dec. 9. Caroline Jane Hanlon ......12/24 Luba Rembis ...................12/24 Ryan John Hariton ...........12/25 Eric Soltis .......................12/25 Thomas Montague...........12/26 Venessa Collucci .............12/27 Melissa Cordes ...............12/27 James Mazza .................12/29 Steven Bivaletz................12/30 Hunter Conklin................12/30 Courtney Pinter ...............12/31 Clifton Merchant • December 2015


Mustang Arts

Senior Michael Tejada and Sophomore Amanda Stetz were putting the finishing touches on the Mustang Soccer mural near the upper gym at CHS on Dec. 1. Mural Club advisors Lauren Fox and Barbara Mack said the project was created to coincide with the Alumni Soccer Game in honor of the late Coach Fernando Rossi. The design took a behind-thebench perspective and the returning players will be asked to sign the mural as a tribute to their late coach.

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Tomahawk Promotions 1288 main avenue Clifton, NJ 07011

PRSRT STD U.S. Postage PA I D Phila Pa 191 PeRmiT No. 7510