Clifton Merchant Magazine - December 2013

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Some of the Fette Pre-Owned Sales Team, from left, Chris Berard, Paul Batista, Bruce Hawks, Mike Varela, Tony Catalano. When buying a certified pre-owned vehicle from Fette, General Manager Chris Ciresi reminds readers that vehicles that have been certified go through rigorous testing and offer extraordinary savings. For instance, only after passing a rigorous 172-point inspection is a pre-owned vehicle certified, complete with 100,000 mile warranty coverage, 24-hour roadside assistance along with low finance rates.

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Table of Contents

What’s Inside? 7

8 Years Old, Once Again Essay by Chris de Vinck


14 The Shared Suit Tradition From Santa to St. Nicholas

32 Boys’ Club Secret Santa Taking Care of Neighbors in Need


Tidings of Good Giving Some Good Causes to Support

46 Shopping Ukrainian Style St. Nick’s Dec. 15 Christmas Bazaar


The CHS Madrigals Giving the Community a Gift of Song

58 Turkey Day Football 110

4 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Bring Nature into Your Home Green, Natural & Decorative

68 Shop Clifton First Local Merchants’ Unique Offerings

78 CHS Sports Previews

Dear readers & advertisers: Due to the holidays we've moved the publication date of our January 2014 edition. Rather than the usual first Friday of the month, for this month only, we will distribute on January 10.

Mustangs Compete Indoors

86 Students of the Month Meet Five Outstanding Kids

90 Manchester Mustangs Forever Cliftonites Go South

98 Clifton Veterans Parade


Nov. 10, From Athenia to City Hall

106 Johnny Samra Dedication 10 Years Later, Milestone Memories



108 Birthdays and Celebrations Sarah Lombardo is 86?

114 TLC’s Christmas Cabaret Merriment at Clifton Arts Center 16,000 Magazines

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Clifton Merchant • December 2013


6 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

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Wishing You and Your Families A Joyous Holiday Season and a Prosperous New Year

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Moments of Grace

8 Years Old, Once Again Essay by Chris de Vinck

At four o’clock in the morning I woke up to a loud thud in the attic. I said to my wife “I’ll get a hav-a-hart trap tomorrow and catch that squirrel.” She was asleep of course, and I imagined that the noise I heard was part of a dream, until there was another distinctive thud, the sound of an elbow hitting the attic floor. Our cat jumped off our bed, and leaped up on the dresser searching for the mouse that he probably imagined in his mind. “It’s Santa Claus,” I said aloud as a joke hoping my wife was awake. She wasn’t. Then I began to be a boy again and imagined the noise was Marley’s ghost from the book I am currently reading: “Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.”

“Old Marley probably rattling his chains in the attic next to the summer fans,” I thought to myself. It made perfect sense to me that a character from a 19th Century British novel would be rolling around in my attic. I had a dream once that William Shakespeare asked for my autograph. When I was fully awake, I was convinced that a squirrel invited a friend and they were having an acorn rolling competition, and then I looked out the window. It had snowed during the night, the first New Jersey snow, unexpected and beautiful. Then I realized that the snow was falling in heavy chunks from the branches that loomed over our house and landed with a thud on the roof. Clifton Merchant • December 2013


Moments of Grace No ghost. No squirrel. No Santa Claus. Just clumps of snow. The next evening, while I was reading the Dickens’ novel after a long day at work, red flashing lights began to swirl around the room. I looked out the window across the snow covered ground and there, entering my neighbor’s house, was Santa Claus, specially delivered to the neighborhood on the town’s fire truck. “You know,” I said to the cat as it looked at me from his seat on the couch, “I used to believe in Santa Claus.” The cat blinked, placed his head on his outstretched paws and closed his eyes. The famous child star Shirley Temple said “I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked me for my autograph.” When the fire engine pulled away from my neighbor’s house, the one with the two small children, I ran through the living room to get a better view, hoping to see Santa Claus sitting in the truck. I made it to the front window just as the flashing lights illuminated the façade of the house. I stood at my window and waved. Santa saw me and waved back. I was eight years old all over again. When I returned to the couch and my book, the cat

hopped onto my lap and curled up like a doughnut. I wanted to ask him if he believed in Santa Claus, but I worried that he might actually raise his head and say yes in a perfect British accent. Our three children are grown and gone. Our dog is dead. My wife is comfortably sleeping upstairs. I am reading the last pages of “A Christmas Carol.” I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year, said the reformed Scrooge. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. I’d like for Christmas this year a collection of tin soldiers, but better things are expected of me, so I won’t. “Meow.” Christopher de Vinck is the Language Arts Supervisor at CHS and the author of 13 books. His best known work is The Power of the Powerless a frank reflection on the struggles and joys of loving his severely disabled brother. To order his most recent work, Moments of Grace, call 1-800-218-1903 or look for it in bookstores or online.

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Happy Holidays! My family and I want to thank you for your support and we wish you all a Happy Holiday and a safe and healthy New Year. Thank you and God Bless!

Monica and Richard Berdnik Ryan, Kevin, Ashley and Alyssa Paid for Berdnik for Sheriff

Clifton Merchant • December 2013




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3-4400 o for Info. 973-25 Call Tom Hawrylk the advertisers who have been with us for years, even decades... our readers, who enjoy our stories and the independent voice of this magazine... our writers, designers and distributors who put it all together and then get it to you... ...thank you all for your support! When we published our first edition of this magazine in October, 1995, we dreamed of what we could become. That has become a reality. With your support, we hope to continue to entertain and inform our hometown for many years to come. My sincerest thanks...

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays, Tom Hawrylko, Editor & Publisher

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Clifton Merchant • December 2013


Here are some of the winning Christmas Cards designed by children and published by the Ukrainian National Association (UNA). Working with Tomahawk Promotions of Clifton, packets of 12 cards and envelopes were distributed to 9,000 UNA members in the US who are asked to send a donation of $25 to the UNA’s Foundation. Established in 1894, the UNA provides members with life insurance, annuities and endowments. Through the UNA’s Foundation, it also supports cultural programs such as the annual Ukrainian Cultural Festival in upstate NY.

12 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Twelve young artists from across the US designed this year’s Christmas Cards for the Ukrainian National Association (UNA). The Parsipanny-based UNA, which is overseen by the NJ Department of Banking, offers a competitive range of high-quality insurance products, IRAs, annuities and educational savings accounts. In addition to managing these accounts, the UNA supports Ukrainian social, cultural and charitable programs through the Ukrainian National Foundation (UNF). With 9,000 members, packets of 12 cards and envelopes were mailed before Thanksgiving. Members are asked to send a $25 gift to the UNF. Proceeds from the card sales support the renaissance of Soyuzivka, the cultural center in Kerhonkson, NY. Proceeds from past year’s card sales helped underwrite cultural shows at Soyuzivka and other events. Members have also provided donations to the UNA publications Svoboda and The Ukrainian Weekly, and to the UNF general fund. For more info on the UNA and its services and mission, go to

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Clifton Merchant • December 2013


From right, Ed Kurbansade, “S. Claus” in his too, too solid flesh, Tom Insinga and one of the big guy’s delivery staffers, Norm Erickson.

(Okay, folks, get the kids out of the room for a minute and stash this issue. For at least the rest of this month, for some of the littler kids a few more years. As you read on, you’ll understand why we’re supplying this caution.) One thing Clifton happens to have in special seasonal surplus is, of all things, Santas. And it’s a very nice thing to have in such relative abundance. In fact, we have a Santa Claus for every day of the week plus! Eight jolly, rubicund-faced “old” elves (when in costume, anyway) and, thus, a sharing of “the suit” that in its own way is as ritualized for the nonreligious side of Christmas as Midnight services are for devotional purposes. We’ve even got more Santas than Snow White had dwarves! And while it turns out that nary a one has anything terribly much different to say about the glories of the “job,” that’s fine. Such unanimity in our Santas is eminently acceptable. It’s an important job, this being (not “playing” or “impersonating” as it’s much too important to be so dismissed) Santa. It’s probably even a job which turns out, unlike most jobs, not to seem onerous at all, 14 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

By Richard Szathmary whose natural good spirits can help carry one through the rest of the year. Our community’s Santas share more than a suit. They share the sunniness of outlook of both the modern Santa Claus and his historical precursor the good St. Nicholas, 4th century Bishop of Myra in what’s now modern Turkey. So below we present you, in no particular order, our local “Santas,” the Big Dude’s locally authorized representatives. Personally, we don’t have a favorite. You may and that’s fine. They’re all worth our appreciation. Rate an all-inclusive non-denominational and hearty—wait for it! — ho, ho, ho. He Got The Call All our Santas and St. Nicks “share the suit,” so to speak. Each in his own way represents, at assorted events, the spirit of generosity that sums up Santa in the first place. (The attested-to original St. Nick, so great was his piety and heart, even supposedly brought back from the dead, and reassembled, three young men killed for their money and chopped up in a cask by an evil innkeeper.)

But two of our Santas also, quite literally, share the same suit as well as the Santa spirit. Now, local lore has it that it’s stuffed somewhere deep in a closet at City Hall, then, the suit is brought out once a year to be donned by two of our local Santas. After its ritual cleaning, it goes back into sartorial repose. One lucky wearer is Bob Jaworski. He’s been in standout scarlet at the annual tree lighting at City Hall for the last five years “I’d said to (Mayor James) Anzaldi that I’d like to help,” he explains, “and then one year, just bang, bang, I suddenly got the call.” And just like Rudolph the RedNosed Reindeer one foggy Christmas Eve (sorry, we can’t resist), he was happy to help. Maybe, “suitwise,” it even helped that the ‘61 CHS grad Bob Jaworski (“Yes, just like former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron and former Watergate prosecutor Leon,” he says with a knowing grin) already knew something about fine fabrics. For 25 years he worked at Hugo’s in what was then called “Main Mall,” which during its heyday was the Clifton equivalent to Savile Row, where local gentlemen and budding Beau Brummels went for bespoke clothing;

Bob was the piece goods buyer. Then for another 20 years or so he worked for the city in Traffic Maintenance when that department was run by the Police Dept. (today it’s part of the DPW.) One of his duties in fact used to be the distinctly Christmasy task every few years of repainting the Disney wooden cutouts which grace City Hall’s lawn during the holiday season. “I’m a Christmas nut,” Jaworski admits. “We still put up four Christmas trees in our home. Including one in the kitchen.” And he loves playing Santa. “It feels good, it feels very, very good. Because I was there once myself, you know? I’d ask for G.I. Joe or maybe just a few toy soldiers. But now, they ask for big stuff. Cell phones. Electronics. Video games. That part is really different from when I was a kid. “Still, I try to be sympathetic to the kids. You know, just to see what’s in a kid’s eyes when they meet Santa, it’s a kind of amazement. And it makes you want to help them be happy. Help them remain happy.” Jaworski, who lives near Christopher Columbus School with his wife, has three daughters and one son and three grandsons (via his son) himself. But the two older boys, Robert and Matthew, are, respectively,

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17 and 12 “and they recognize me in the Santa suit easily.” And spouse Jeannette is an x-ray technician. He also collects Santa Claus figurines, “about 50 or 60, I lost count. But we always have a few out yearround for luck.” As for how long he intends to “assist” at the tree lighting, he smiles. “As long as I’m able and as long as Clifton will have me.”

slowly through town, and I wave and I say hello. It’s easy and it’s fun. Actually, it’s real easy because it’s so much fun.” The “we” is an assortment of Clifton Police and Firefighters, volunteers and Mayor Anzaldi, who guide the rush of wailing police cars and emergency equipment up and down most every street in our fine community.

Once again, Insinga, a born and bred Cliftonite who is a retired roofer with 40+ years experience, makes sure to share credit with all involved. He has three daughters— “they finally know” who’s up there waving—and three grandkids “who follow me on Christmas Eve but don’t know yet.” See, this sort of thing is why we told you to hide this issue.

The Second “Sharer” After the tree lighting ceremony, the suit’s cleaned and readied for Clifton’s second deputy Santa. That happens to be 73-year-old Tom Insinga, who each year does the annual daylong (stretching well into darkness) Christmas Eve circuit we call the “Tour de Clifton.” It’s Tom, in other words, who rides through your neighborhood and waves. And he’s been waving from atop his float (donated annually by Bond Parade Floats on Clifton Blvd., he reminds us) for 43 happy years. “I wave and I have a microphone,” Insinga says. “We put on 50, maybe 60 miles that day and night,

Ron and Jeannette Jaworski at left. At right in 2011 at city hall, their then four-year-old grandson Christian (with his then nine-year-old brother Matthew) wonders who the guy in fur-trimmed red really is.

16 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


Insinga seems most amused, in a roguishly wry way, however, by the fact that his tour in now generational. “People I once waved to on the street, they’re bringing their own kids to wave at me now,” he said. “That’s wonderful.” Then, post-tour, there’s his own personal Christmas restorative procedure. He and his wife Linda, a retired nurse who worked at Chilton Memorial in Pompton Plains, spent 43 years on Dumont Ave, but recently moved to Woodland Park. He quickly doffs the suit and then “I go home and I thaw out. I have a nice little drink and I thaw out.” The suit is then put away by its guardians at City Hall, waiting for its call come the next Christmas Eve. (And yes, this does seem to recall the eventual fate of the Ark of The Covenant in the first Indiana Jones movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”) “I’m 73 now and I don’t know how much longer I can do this,” Tom Insinga concludes. “But I do really love wearing the suit.” This year’s Tour occurs, natch, Christmas Eve, 3 to 9-ish, after which Santa has to get to his “real” job. Meanwhile, Down at Botany Village... Joseph J. (“Big Joe” to some) and his son Joseph M. Nikischer are longtime community stalwarts and activists in the Botany area. Big Joe is a trustee of Historic Botany Village (as is his wife Arlene), their son Joe is VP and Special Events Coordinator. Big Joe even recalls when there really was a bustling Botany Mills straddling the Clifton-Passaic line which produced (“milled” to be more accurate) some of the fine fabrics which Bob Jaworski went into NYC to purchase for Hugo’s. He also recalls when there was also a “little” operation in Botany called Popular Merchandise/Popular Club Plan which eventually transmuted itself into retailing giant J. Crew. (Which in turn is an odd reminder of how key Clifton has actually been in the past to American economic history.) And for the last 10 years Joe Nikischer has known who to turn to properly mark the “special event” of special events in retailing, the Christmas shopping season. Meaning his dad. 18 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Just before he began his Tour De Clifton on Christmas Eve in 1998, we took this photo of “Santa” on Dumont Ave. in the Albion section of Clifton.

It turns out that Big Joe has been standing in for Santa, albeit elsewhere, for “50, maybe 60 years. I began doing it in my sister’s basement.” He also used to do it at the catering operation called The Fiesta (itself a place that serves as a reminder that not everyone’s holidays are necessarily bright and shiny by the fact that twice parking attendants there have been killed in mudslides from the “cliffs” above while on the job) in Wood-Ridge and at local banks. He’s even done “Christmas in July” parties a few times for friends. And, in tribute to what used to be rote American workmanship, his personal Santa suit is made of durable corduroy (purchased, for all we know, from Hugo’s) and almost 60 years old. “But the special place,” Big Joe stresses, considering the best place to be the jolly big guy, “is always Botany Village for me.” For many years, after all, he ran J. Michael’s Florist in the “Village,” through economic thick and thin. He especially remembers from his red-suited duties a kid who said to Santa that he really, really really (to borrow from the Spice Girls) wanted “a nice warm coat for Christmas.” “I almost fell out of my chair,” Nikischer says. “You expect kids to ask for toys. That kind of stuff just moves your heart.”

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“Luckily,” he continues, “there was someone standing near me who also heard that request, and we were able to fulfill it very quickly. It brought tears to my eyes,” he concludes, reminding us that if Santa is anything, he’s always empathetic. At the Botany Village Merchants Association tree lighting this year (Dec. 6 at 6 pm at Sullivan Square and featuring the clearly tireless

Madrigals in one of their four performances this hectic day), Nikischer takes understandably great pride that, while Santa’s hearing of childrens’ plights and desires begins at 6 pm, “We of course stay there until every child has been heard,” he states.” And they do the same, he emphasizes, for the pictures-with-Santa session on Dec. 8. Santa also knows how to handle

Jamir Johnson who attends School 12, shows a 7-year-old’s wonder at meeting “Santa” in his durable corduroy suit in Botany Village on Nov. 8.

20 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

minor menaces. One year in his sister’s basement, he recalls, “there was a kid named Charley, and he was a brat. Just a big brat. “So I held up a big wooden spoon and I asked out loud, while standing next to Charley, ‘I wonder who this can be for?’ And Charley, he stood right up and recoiled. I didn’t have any more problems with Charley.” Nikischer also swears self-deprecatingly, in reference to Santa’s famous girth (hey, it’s tough noshing on Christmas cookies all yearround), that he fills the requirement rather nicely. “Let’s put it this way: I don’t need a pillow. I use a suit that’s almost 60 years old and now it’s as if it was custom-made for me.” Make no mistake, however: Joe Nikischer really enjoys his seasonal employment. “Oh, I love it. It’s the kid... mostly what you see in their eyes. It’s a fun thing. And it just makes me feel very, very good.” Life Lessons In Lakeview Gary Kaiser has played Santa for 15 years for the Lakeview Civic Association (LCA). And for the simplest of reasons, because his wife Dawn, who is Co-President of the LCA (along with Steve Christopher), asked (ordered? instructed?) him to. Sometimes, Santa doesn’t have much of a choice about putting on the suit, in other words. The Kaisers, of course, are longtime Lakeview residents themselves. “You always do it reluctantly,” Kaiser feels. “I think most people will say to themselves, ‘I’m not exactly Santa material.’ “But that doesn’t mean it’s

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Clifton Merchant • December 2013


not fun. Even though I still get nervous, the first time was probably the worst. You just don’t know how the whole process is going to go. And the kids, you realize they think they’re actually talking to Santa. Most of the time, they’ll whisper to me. They really think they’re talking to someone special. “I also learned that very little has changed in the way kids ask for things. The things themselves may have changed, but not the way. It’s touching. I remember one little girl, she wrote a little note and put it in a little envelope and she handed it to me, she didn’t want much but she was too shy to say it directly to Santa. My eyeglasses completely fogged over on that one.” In his “real,” non-Decembered life, Kaiser works in the pharmaceutical industry, in clinical sales. Yet in “the last month of the year” (recall the old calland-response hymn which begins “What month was Jesus born?”), he ruefully admits that (while he’s in no way the traditionally fully rounded-off Santa of, say, the famous Haddon Sundblom illustrations from the 1930’s that Coke still uses in its seasonal advertising), “every year I seem to need just a little less padding.” Oh well, so do we all. The tree lighting will be at the Menconi Music Studio, at 5 pm on Dec. 6 at the corner of Lakeview and Merselis Aves., with the Madrigals. Athenia’s Own (Maybe) Now (to be just a bit arch), you may have noticed on this month’s cover a guy whose beard and hair look distinctly and genuinely white. We’re not sure, but rumor has it (again, hide this issue from the kids) that this is actually none other than the charming, truly twinkly Daniel Garrett, who stands in for Santa at the Athenia

22 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Lakeview’s version and non-elfin helper James Kaiser.

Business Association’s own tree lighting ceremony, which this year is on Dec. 7 at 5:30 pm at Richardson Scale Park on Van Houten Ave. Alternatively, of course, it really is Santa on the cover. His magical abilities supposedly are wide-reaching, after all. Publisher Tom Hawrylko honestly has no memory of taking our cover photo. It just “manifested itself.” But if it perchance is Daniel Garrett, then he’s a former maintenance supervisor for the Port Authority of NY & NJ, born in the Bronx, who took early retirement in 2007, and he’s been living in Clifton for over 40 years.


Clifton Merchant • December 2013


“Savings Bank Santa” on Main Ave., with Pat DeLora, Al Greco and Angela Montague, all of the Downtown Clifton Economic Development Group.

That Daniel Garrett has a son who lives in the Delawanna section and another down the shore, and three grandchildren. His wife Janet

24 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

has taught at St Andrew the Apostle School on Mt. Prospect Ave. for more than 20 years, currently teaches fifth grade there.

As to why that Daniel Garrett took early retirement, his reply is succinct: “I didn’t have a registered letter from God telling me when to retire. So I figured I may as well do it while I’m well enough to enjoy it.” Such enjoyment for this jolly fellow includes playing Santa. “Oh, I love doing it,” he says. “It’s great. They give me hugs. They give me notes telling me what they want for Christmas. They’re happy and smiley.” Come December, he notes, “I just automatically know it’s time to get the suit out again without even looking at a calendar.” There’s one grooming caveat, however. He always very carefully brushes his teeth and his public appearances, because he’s a cigar smoker. (Which is a reward we can easily imagine Santa earning after a hard night of listening to kids and coping

with cranky reindeer anyway.) “I really have to do a good job on my teeth before I go and put on the suit,” he says. But everything else here, no, it’s not a job, not at all “It’s fun and it’s my own little contribution to the local holiday season.” Which is a nice thing to hear from either Daniel Garrett or Santa himself up at the pole. We’d just disagree that his contribution is “little.” Nah, it’s major, and this conclusion brooks no debate. The “Savings Bank Santa” Ed Kurbansade isn’t from Clifton — he grew up in Woodbridge and lives in Roxbury — but he nevertheless is heavily involved in the doing of good deeds hereabouts. He’s VP and Manager of the Piaget Ave. branch of Spencer Savings Bank, a past chair of the North Jersey Regional Chamber of Commerce and a trustee of the Boys & Girls Clubs and of Downtown Clifton. He and his spouse have two boys of their own, 10 and 12. And come the holiday season, at both the tree lighting for the Downtown Clifton Economic Development Group (Dec. 6 at 7 pm at Clifton Ave. and 1st St.) and at the annual Clifton Rec Center “Day With Santa” on Dec. 7, from 11 am to 2 pm at 1232 Main Ave., he too shares the suit. And thus its prevailing spirit (which by this point needs no further identification). “They truly believe I’m going to make a difference in their holidays,” Ed marvels in a respectful tone. Last year at the Rec Center, “there was a very shy little girl at the very back of the line to see Santa. She also seemed to be a ‘special needs’ kid, and when she comes close she just gives me a great big hug and says ‘I love you, Santa.’ That just makes your whole day worthwhile.” He especially likes the Rec Center event, by the way, “because everybody takes their time, and no kid is shortchanged. We see them all.” Clifton Merchant • December 2013


Nor does it take much out of Ed Kurbansade to “separate” himself from the oft grimly practical world of banking in order to put on the suit. “It’s all about the ho, ho, hos,” he explains. “I don’t have to get psyched up to go into ‘the Santa mode.’ I just love going there.” Nor does Ed Kurbansade restrict his suit-wearing to Clifton, as it turns out. “I do a few other gigs every year,” he explains. One, for example is always at the Garfield Y, “where the kids come directly from day care, they’re all three or four at most, and they’re all just full of hope and wonder. As long as somebody needs a Santa somewhere...” His voice trails off, seems to become a choked half-sob. Yes, too, we know, sharing the suit will do exactly that to you.

St. Nicholas at his most bishop-like, with Sophia Refinski and Jacob & Julia Evanina, at the Hamilton House Museum in 2009.

The Fabulous Original The original 4th century St. Nicholas, hailing from what is now the town of Demre in modern Turkey, is the patron saint (so venerated and receiving intercessionary prayers in various parts of the world) of merchants, sailors, pawnbrokers, unmarried girls and, of course, children. He is also, somewhat surprisingly, the patron saint of archers and thieves and, yessss!, brewers.

And even one of Russia’s patron saints (not that it helped much from 1917 until about 20 years ago). His proper feast day is Dec. 6 for most Christians (or Dec. 19 for the Orthodox and any other Christians who follow the older Julian calendar). But he is not commonly the subject of even one percent as many Tin Pan Alley “classics” (most of which, incidentally, were actually written by Jewish songsmiths) as there are songs about Santa Claus.

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Clifton Merchant • December 2013


Indeed, only one such song comes right to mind, and that’s “Little Saint Nick” by the Beach Boys; in that one, understandably, his sleigh is “candy apple red,” just like so many custom cars and street rods were painted back in the 50’s and 60’s. But this is Clifton, where we’re ahead of the curve in so many ways. So we, naturally, have two Saint Nicholases (as well as Catholics who honor him in a namesake area parish in Passaic) who also share a suit and its generous spirit, although in both cases said “suit” is, instead, akin to what the actual St. Nicholas wore as his ecclesiastical career progressed, the garb of a bishop, right down to the alb, stole, mitre and crozier. One can be found holding forth and greeting both the young and young at heart at the “St. Nick” at namesake St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic School annual candlelight tours at the Hamilton and a young student reciting a poem in his honor. House Museum. And in the unlikely (surely morn) or the St. Nicholas of Clement Clark Moore’s wellto some) person of the longtime City Councilman, forknown poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” as he is the mer Assemblyman and Passaic County Freeholder dowry-dropping Byzantine bishop. Peter Eagler. Still, Eagler is quite happy that this version of St. “It feels great to do it,” the professionally affable Nicholas is making a comeback at the Hamilton House Eagler says. “To see the smiles on people’s faces, that after being on iced for a few years. “As long as you makes everything worthwhile.” believe, good things can happen,” he suggests. “And if The Hamilton House’s version of St. Nick, however, you believe in good things...” His voice trails off a bit. owes at least as much to this area’s general Dutch roots as “It’s all good stuff,” he continues. “It’s a good thing. the authentic St. Nicholas’s Middle East origins and Another good thing, according to Eagler, is that the legions of eastern European devotees. “Hamilton House always has the best cookies.” And that He’s as much the traditional Dutch figure of “Sinter includes his own walnut-raisin cookies, which come from Klaas” (you leave your shoes out for him filled with straw a “traditional family recipe” which results in goodies that and carrots for his animals and you get gifts back the next

• Submersible Pumps • Portable Puddle Pumps • Jacuzzi & Pool Pumps • Circulator Pumps • Motors • Blowers • Fans • Machine Shop & On-site Service 28 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

were actually sent to doughboys back in WWI. You can catch “St. Peter” Eagler in his ecclesiastical vestments on Dec. 6 at Hamilton House at 971 Valley Road, from 7 to 9 pm. The Madrigals (at the end of a very lonnnngggg day) will also be there. St. Nick Reigns! (In Passaic!) All that love Saint Nicholas All that serve Saint Nicholas For these Saint Nicholas Comes to their aid in all their needs... This is one (freely translated) version of some words of a traditional hymn sung round the word to the patron, and you’ll certainly hear it sung locally this Yuletide. Yes, Virginia, so goes the famous newspaper editorial of 1897, there is a Santa Claus. There’s also, the “Virginias” of the world should be apprised, a St. Nicholas whose influence remains specifically locally pervasive and those who believe in him swear by the spirit of Christian, yearround generosity which he inspires and devotion to him inculcates. That St. Nicholas inspires daily at both St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic church and its parish school in Passaic, which is attended by many Cliftonites. And the “St. Nicholas” who visits the children in the school appears in the notably robust form of Alex Karlicki, a Clifton resident for 20 years, a lifelong parishioner. “The biggest reason I play St. Nicholas is because I’m 6’4 and 300 pounds so I fit in the suit,” Karlicki admits. But there are other reasons. He was in fact born directly across the street from St. Nicholas Church in that still Ukrainian neigh-

borhood. He and his wife have two children in the school and today he heads up the school’s PTA, essentially the chief fundraiser and advocate. “It’s a special day because St. Nicholas is after all our parish’s patron saint.” Karlicki says. “We’ll celebrate it (the Saint’s feast day) with a Mass and a visit to every classroom.” For the visit, modest gifts are distributed —last year these were

candy bars with St. Nicholas’s image on the wrapper—and Karlicki said kids just seem to stare in awe, wonder and respect. Many of the younger ones do seem to believe that they’re actually meeting the patron saint of the parish. “And I love doing it,” Karlicki says. “It’s a lot of fun. I even feel a little taller when I’m dressed up as St. Nicholas. ”

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


Is the job a blessing? “I’m not portraying Santa Claus, after all,” Karlicki concludes. “But someone older, more spiritual. We’re going back to when before there was a Santa Claus. To making the Saint matter to people again. And that matters to me. And it matters a lot.” So The Suit Still Matters There was a pretty bad movie in ‘85 called “Santa Claus” in which both his origins in St. Nicholas and even the actual celebration of Christmas itself are barely even mentioned. There’s a much worse movie from way back in ‘64 called “Santa Claus Conquers The Martians” in which Santa...oh heck, you can bloody well figure this one out and see right away how irrelevant this low-budget horror is to any consideration of Christmas. Both movies have nonetheless become Christmas season TV staples. And both, as it happens, do put their title protagonists in pretty spiffy suits. But they’re also empty suits. Mere “product” utterly without genuine heart. Products of a commercialized world in which corporations decree to their people that “happy holidays” shall serve as December’s verbal norm for greetings.

But this is Clifton, where Santa and St. Nicholas’s “deputies” all take their job very seriously and recognize what “holiday” is actually celebrated on December 25, an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ. These suit wearers prove by their own considerable commitment and generosity that the all-inclusive spirit of goodwill towards all men in fact stems from what said suit symbolizes, is absolutely intrinsic to the proper understanding of the suit. It is not at all an easy mantle to don. Santa Clauses and St. Nicholases alike should comport themselves with dignity. So it’s terrific that here in Clifton our local Santas and St. Nicholases always come through. Perhaps it’s time to put this issue of our magazine down now. Call your kids back to your side and hug them for a moment. This is Clifton and this is Christmas here, by golly, and we take the sharing of the suit and all it stands for very, very seriously. And with that, with a nod to Clement Clarke Moore’s poem, Merry Christmas to all, and to all the happiest possible magical season. On to the (laced for us adults) eggnog!

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Assessing Needs When parents face hard “We knew we had a number financial times because of By Carol Leonard of low-income families, but we loss of a job, illness or other didn’t know how bad it was,” circumstances, the holidays said board member Frank can be a difficult time of year. Calise. “With the recession of They often don’t have the 2008, a lot of people lost their resources to provide their chiljobs and they just weren’t going dren with the kind of celebrato have Christmas. The program tion or the gifts and even the really caught on that year and basic necessities that other we just kept it going.” families can afford. Frank Carlet, another longBut thanks to the generositime member of the board of ty and caring of the board of directors and Secret Santa directors, staff and other supdonor, added, “It’s a program porters of the Boys & Girls that makes kids happy and that’s what’s important.” Club, about 30 Clifton families will have gifts under Department heads of the early childhood and aftertheir Christmas trees this year that are sure to put a school programs on-site at the club and at School 17 on smile on their kids’ faces. Lexington Ave. identify some of the neediest families, The Secret Santa program was initiated by the club and then reach out to the parents to get ideas for gifts. in 2005 at the suggestion of former Executive Director Dolores Colucci, with overwhelming support from the This year, families from programs at School 12 on club’s board. It is a holiday tradition now. Clifton Ave. near Lexington will also be included. 32 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


Doris McFarlane, the club’s executive secretary, explained that the parents make a list of clothing items such as pants, shirts and coats that their children need, including sizes for each child. They also provide a wish list of toys that they know their kids would like to receive. Donors pick one or more children to buy gifts for, and then they wrap them and put the child’s name on the tag. “It’s anonymous where the gift came from,” McFarlane said. “The children think they’re from Santa.” In addition to members of the board of directors and staff at the club, other Secret Santa supporters include Delana Ryan, who owns and operates Yoga Centric; Rich DeMayo, owner of Villa Roma Pizzeria; Mayor James Anzaldi; and Carol Genchi, who serves as executive secretary to Clifton Superintendent of Schools Richard Tardalo. The Gifts of the Yogis Ryan said that when she opened her business in 2005 she wanted to become involved in the city. “As a yoga studio, giving back to the community is part of our philosophy,” she commented. “I knew the Boys & Girls From top left at the Yoga Centric studio on Colfax Ave., Delana Ryan, Hernan Romero, Sarah Guelich. Kneeling from left, Carla Club was a great organization doing really Rodriguez, Jayne Strickland, Teresa Dornellas, Andrea Rudolph. good things for kids, so I thought it would be a good match for us.” ornaments that she places on the tree; each includes the Right after Thanksgiving, Ryan sets up in her studio name of a child from the Boys & Girls Club Secret Santa what she calls “The Giving Tree” so that her students can list. “I usually take the names of five to seven children also become involved in the program. She makes paper from the club,” she said. “I try to make sure that

34 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


each child gets five gifts, three items of clothing and two toys.” Ryan, who has two little boys of her own, also tries to learn as much as possible about the circumstances of the families she is helping, so that she can share this with her students who also donate gifts. “It’s not always about money,” she said. “One year, we helped a family who had a fire in their home, and another time there was a mom with cancer. I think it’s important to let people know the stories about whom they’re giving to, even though we don’t know them personally.” The Pizza Payback With healthy three-and-a-half yearold twin girls, an older daughter and another child on the way, pizza guy and Clifton businessman Rich DeMayo feels like he is on top of the From left, the DeMayo family: Amanda-Marie holding sister Melania world now. Stefania (with a bow around the baby on the way!), Natalia and Richard. But he hasn’t forgotten what it was Stefania is doing well now, but DeMayo will never like to face difficult times, and he is more than happy to forget how important it was to have all the support he help out others in need. His wife of nine years, received from friends and family, so he wants to pay it Stefania, had a heart transplant at age 28, after spendback by helping out in the community. ing most of the first five years of their marriage in the “We take a family or two and buy everything on each hospital. “She got sick on our honeymoon and it took kid’s need list and at least a few things on their want almost two years before she was finally diagnosed with list,” he said. a rare cardiomyopathy,” he said.

Please join Assembly Speaker Oliver & I in our Toy & Book Drive for Kids, Ages 3 to 15.

36 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


City Hall & the BOE Care For Mayor Anzaldi, Christmas has always been a special time in his life, so he is happy to participate in the Secret Santa program. “I can remember how I felt as a child seeing all the presents under the tree,” he said. “I was very fortunate that my parents were able to do this. I’m sure it was a sacrifice for them, but for some parents in hard situations, it’s very difficult.” Anzaldi especially enjoys shopping for toys. “It’s a fun thing to do,” he said. “For these kids who need an extra boost in their lives, I think it’s important for Santa to come on Christmas.” With her two sons all grown up and no grandchildren yet, Carol Genchi enjoys the opportunity to shop for young children again. “Christmas is for kids,” she said. “No child should be without gifts to open on Christmas morning.” Genchi said she got involved in the program as a way to, as the saying goes, pay it forward. “We’ve been very fortunate and this is a way of giving back.” She said she usually takes the names and gift lists of all the children in one family every year, so that each sibling will get the same amount of presents. “I try to shop early and go to sales, so I can get as much as possible for my buck,” she said. “I wrap up everything separately, so there will be a lot for them to open.”

Genchi also takes the time to write a note to the mom or dad of the family to wish them a happy holiday, and she always includes a gift card from the Paulison Avenue ShopRite. “I can’t tell you how much joy I get out of doing this, she said. I absolutely love it. I only wish I could see all their faces on Christmas morning.” Care to Help Out? If you or someone you know would like to become involved in the Secret Santa program yourself, you can purchase a gift for a child in need. This may include an item of new clothing, such as a shirt or pants, a coat, sweater or sweatshirt. Items frequently included on kids’ “want lists” are Barbies and other dolls, toy cars and trucks, Lego sets, video games, puzzles, headphones and art sets. If you do decide to help out, you are asked to wrap the gift in holiday paper and bring it to the Boys & Girls Club by Dec. 18. Do not put your name on the gift tag, as most of the children, especially the youngest ones, believe that the gifts come from Santa. For more information about clothing sizes that parents have requested, highly sought after toys or to make a general contribution, or have questions, call Doris McFarlane or Bob Foster at 973-773-0966.

Rosemary Pino

Clifton Board of Education

I am honored and humbled by your faith in me. Thank you all for your support. I look forward to serving our community on the Clifton Board of Education. Paid for by Rosemary Pino

38 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


local non-profit. Because these In A Charlie Brown Christmas, folks could direly use your help. the round-headed protagonist in And big or small, it’ll be apprethe yellow shirt with chevrons on ciated. its chest is famously bothered by Don’t shy from tossing paper what he sees as the complete and coinage in the kettles of the holiday commercialism. “Sallies” either; it truly “tis the If that’s you to some extent, season” and giving is proven to then look around to see ways in be better than getting in terms of which you can assist a neighbor or entries by the angels in one’s those in need. personal file in Heaven’s A gift isn’t necessarily a ledgers. wrapped present or money. It can Jerry Dimitratos (at right) from the There are other ways to assist be as simple as a visit to a Midtown Grill making a donation to the needy. Several groups homebound relative or neighbor. John DeGraaf of the Boys & Girls Club. conduct toy and food drives As a personal commitment of during December so that unfortunate families are able to one’s time and effort. The historical truth is that support celebrate. Other charities are year-round programs. of charities is fundamentally an American specialty. We Whichever interests you, we make some suggestions on really do practice as we preach to each other on a scale the following pages. not found elsewhere in this world. And as a back-up plan, we even might note the sudden You can also pitch in and help out the community by need for aid to the Philippines, via such international volunteering at one (or more!) of Clifton’s many agencies of traditional charitable concern as CARE, the organizations which provide an array of services for Red Cross, the Salvation Army and outlets of the UN. youth, seniors, cultural or religious groups and other It’s all to the common good. It may even make you service entities. feel warm and fuzzy inside. Heck, it may even justify that But if sending a check is decidedly your specialty, second cup of applejack-laced eggnog. there are many organizations much worthy of your supGo thou, therefore, and donate time or money. port and signature. Thus, when creating your holiday Graciously and generously! shopping list this year, consider adding a donation to a

Good Neighbors, Great Rates

Thomas Tobin 973-779-4248

Bill G. Eljouzi 973-478-9500

40 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant


Clifton Merchant • December 2013


Flags Flying With Style

Battling Cerebral Palsy

First, there’s always a crying need for financial support for Clifton’s unique “Avenue of Flags” program. Each 3 x 5 flag, along with its accompanying 10-foot pole, goes up 5 times a year and the cost for each, which is marked with the name and rank of one of Clifton’s veterans, is a reasonable $100 per flag (although the gratification of contributing to such a yearly program is plainly and palpably priceless). Donation checks should be made out to “Clifton Veterans’ Avenue of Flags” and sent to 900 Clifton Ave., Clifton NJ 07012, attn: John Biegel. For further info on this marvelous program, you can also reach John directly at 973-519-0858.

Last month’s cover story subject, the Passaic County Elks Cerebral Palsy Treatment Center, is always in need of funds. (Because, however mighty their efforts, the Elks can’t quite do everything.) Donations can thus be sent to the Passaic County Elks Cerebral Palsy Treatment Center at 1481 Main Avenue, Clifton NJ 07011, attn: Dr. William Weiss. Contributions can also be charged via a “Donate” button at For further info, contact Dr. Weiss at either 973-772-2600 ext. 111 or

St. Peter’s Pitches In Located at 380 Clifton Ave., St, Peter’s Haven has been serving the community since 1986, when it was founded by members of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. The Haven provides shelter for 6 to 12 families annually and serves as Clifton’s food bank, literally providing hundreds of individuals and families with staples. Food drives, charity events and donations help keep the shelves stocked. The next time you go shopping, toss together an extra 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 truckloads of dry goods, which come in at least monthly. For more details, call 973-546-3406 or go to

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Many families have purchased a flag in honor or memory of a loved one who served in the US Armed Forces.

42 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Annually, this Downtown Clifton landmark business organizes a holiday drive. This year, the DeLora family is asking again for new or “gently worn” outerwear as they team up with One Warm Coat, a group that will distribute the collected winter wear to the less fortunate. Gloves, scarves and sweaters will also be accepted. Drop off items at DeLuxe, 1280 Main Ave. 973-546-1105. For info on this worthy program,

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


The Clifton Education Foundation This Foundation, serving Clifton Public Schools, helps to raise funds through donations and endowments. District teachers, student groups and HSAs can then apply for grants for various need-and-appreciate-yourhelp projects which are not covered by the city’s educational budget. Donations can be made to the Clifton Education Foundation and mailed to Michelle Morgan (herself a retired teacher from School 14) at 153 Lincoln Ave., Clifton 07011. Or email Ms. Morgan at for further info.

In A Seasonal Spirit of Ecumenicism

Toys for Tots, Coats For Everybody Clifton’s valiant firefighters and the FMBA Local 21 have once again joined forces with the USMC Reserves to collect gifts for their annual Toys for Tots drive. FMBA President Bob DeLuca asks that residents provide only new, unwrapped toys, which can be dropped off at any Clifton Fire Station until Dec. 20. When purchasing gifts, buy toys appropriate in one of three categories: for newborns to five year olds, age 5 to 10 and for kids 10 and into their teens. Info: Clifton Firefighters and FMBA Local 21 are also continuing their coat drive, which began in November. Coats may be dropped off at any Clifton Fire Station, and cleaning services are being provided for the items by (where else but!) DeLuxe Cleaners here in town.

Jewish Family Services & Children’s Center of CliftonPassaic, which recently moved from Scoles Ave. to new offices at 925 Allwood Rd., provides quite a few programs to the community. Too many, in fact, to even list here, although all are designed to strengthen and support something so crucial to Clifton’s core livability, family life. But one in particular should be mentioned here, and that’s “Project S.A.R.A.H.” (for “Stop Abusive Relationships at Home”), whose purpose and importance can be gleaned from this project’s very name. (October is in fact also always National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.) The center also always needs volunteers, sometimes for projects as prosaic as the wrapping of holiday gifts, and for food distribution at Passover. The Center even offers student internships for candidates for a master’s degree in social work or counseling. For further info, or to donate, contact the JFSC at either 973-777-7638 or via its website,

The Clifton Boys & Girls Club

Relaying For Life Itself

The Club has opened its doors to thousands of local youth over the years, enriching the lives of children through countless programs. To continue their rich history of community support, the Club relies heavily on generous donations. The Annual Giving Campaign allows individuals to give money to the Club while also offering a convenient way for an interested company or one’s employer to match your donation. For details, call 973-773-2697 or click

Speaking of early notice for charitable events (and we just were, as we hope you noticed ), Relay for Life, an annual overnight walking event at Clifton Stadium to raise money for the American Cancer Society, steps off six months from now on May 31 to June 1. If interested in forming a new team or joining an existing Clifton squad for the annual 2.3 mile relay race (or, as an actual cancer survivor yourself, in walking the “Survivor Lap”), visit or write to Clifton RFL advocate Chris Lizner at

44 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

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At left, Marianna Znak-Hoholuk holding a photo of her grandfather, Michael Zielonka. Her children, from left, Zorianna (and Sophia) holding a photo of their grandfather, Zenon Znak. On right, Christina Andruch-Kedl, her children Alexander and Ottilia holding a picture of their grandfather Stefan Andruch.

You don’t have to be Ukrainian to Enjoy This Christmas Bazaar Continuing a 50 year tradition which began with their fathers and grandfathers, best friends Marianna Znak-Hoholuk and Christina Andruch-Kedl are among those planning a Christmas Bazaar to support and celebrate Ukrainian heritage and history. These two Clifton residents and other members of the Ukrainian American Youth Association of Passaic or UAYA, are planning the Dec. 15 Christmas Bazaar at the Ukrainian Center, 240 Hope Ave., Passaic. “Our children never met their didos (grandfathers) or pradidos (grandfathers and great-grandfathers) but we know that they are proud of us as we continue to work for the Ukrainian Center and the UAYA,” said Marianna Znak-Hoholuk who is also a teacher at School 13 on Van Houten Ave. The Bazaar is a major fundraiser for the group. While admission is free, vendors pay to sell their wares. Crafters will be selling items such as CDs and books from Ukraine, custom hand-made rosaries, Christmas tabletop décor, hand-made girls’ hair pins, unique clothing and homemade honey. 46 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Others will be selling items such as Stella and Dot jewelry, seasonal floral arrangements, delicious chocolates, fine cashmere scarves, organic body soaps and lotions and other gifts, great under anyone’s tree. And be sure to make time to eat. A team of volunteers in the Ukrainian kitchen will be serving up homemade perogies, borscht, kapusta and kovbasa. The lounge will be serving specialty coffee drinks and great desserts such as poppyseed and lekvar sweets. St. Nicholas will be visiting with children from noon to 3 pm, so parents should bring a camera. There will be a balloon artist and face painters, all for free. “It is very important that we keep our culture and tradition alive,” said Christina Andruch-Kedl, who with Marianna graduated St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic School in 1989 and then CHS in 1993. They still both attend St. Nicholas Church on President St. in Passaic. “This Bazaar is a great way to share our culture so that people get to know who Americans of Ukrainian descent are,” she said. “We are proud of our traditions, our culture and our community.”

Clifton Super Bowl Family Day Attend, sponsor or volunteer for the annual Clifton Super Bowl Family Day, which this year happens on Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, 2014. Now in its 16th year, the event is an alcohol, tobacco and gambling-free event held at the Boys & Girls Club where a good time is guaranteed to all. Prior to the game, there’ll be parent/child games, an open gym and swimming. Then, come kickoff, watch the annual clash between the AFC and NFC on large-screen TV’s. During the game, there’ll be free-flowing pizza, hot dogs, chips, soda and more. Admission is also a bargain: just bring a donation of canned goods, which will go to the St. Peter’s Haven food pantry. Volunteers are also needed to set up and coordinate the event. Sponsors are needed as well. Since it began over a decade ago, Clifton Against Substance Abuse (CASA), for example, has been a major donor, as have the Clifton PBA, the FMBA, the Optimist Club and various families, individuals, local civic groups and businesses. Make checks out to the Boys & Girls Club of Clifton,

Family Super Bowl party kitchen volunteers.

attn: Super Bowl Party. To become a sponsor yourself, call our publisher Tom Hawrylko at 973-253-4400 or write to Mail or drop off your check to Clifton Merchant Magazine at 1288 Main Ave., Clifton, NJ, 07011.

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Federally insured up to $250,000 Clifton Merchant • December 2013


Locks of Love at CCMS It’s never too early to grow your hair out for this one. That’s why we’re mentioning the upcoming ninth annual “Locks of Love Cut-A-Thon,” Monday, May 19, 5 long months early. Once again, Christopher Columbus Middle School students will participate by having their (hopefully) luxuriant and silky, certainly young tresses shorn for children with medical hair loss. The event will be held in the CCMS Media Center from 8:30 am to 3 pm and is open to the public. Donors must call ahead to reserve a spot; those under 18 will need parental consent (aka a “permission slip”). For further info, call Kim Dreher at 973-769-0500 or email her at Find general and donation info at

Buon Natale From UNICO Now in its 37th year, the UNICO Christmas party benefiting the girls of the North Jersey Developmental Center of Totowa was on Dec. 3 at the Brownstone in Paterson. Begun by Michael N. Corradino, who now serves as Honorary Chair, this worthy annual event is organized and co-sponsored by Frank and Nina Corradino of Nina’s Salon on Valley Rd. To donate or become involved, call Nina at 973-278-0356.

From left, a stylist, a third grader from School 1 with her gift of hair and Kim Dreher at CCMS.

Weichert Realtors Toy Drive Weichert Realtors, 791 Passaic Ave., is again collecting toys for Passaic County foster children right up until Dec. 24. Donors should drop off a new, unwrapped toy during normal office hours, which are 8:30 am to 9 pm, Mon. to Fri., 9 am to 6 pm on weekends. For information, call either Tony Sanchez or Maureen Setteducato at the Weichert office at 973-779-1900.

Chiropractic Center Toy Drive

At Weichert Realtors, Ryan Carbone, Maureen Setteducato and Tony Sanchez.

48 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

The next time you show up at this Styertowne Shopping Center healthcare facility, bring a new unwrapped toy to benefit Toys for Tots. Doctors Joe Paz, Jackie Paz-Schimmel and Lou Schimmel will be accepting donations all December during their regular opening hours, and all gifts will be given to Toys for Tots to brighten this holiday season for needy children. For more details, visit if you need further details and to check on their hours.

Dr. Thomas Graziano, DPM, MD

Dr. Kevin Buckley

Charles Crowley, MD

Dr. Daniel Rice, MD

Dr. Terry McSweeney


General Surgery




Celebrate the season, enjoy family and friends, but please be safe and healthy... PODIATRY Thomas Graziano, DPM, MD 1033 Clifton, Ave. Clifton, NJ 07013 973-473-3344 Jeffrey Miller, DPM 1117 Route 46 East, 2nd Floor Clifton, NJ 07013 973-365-2208 Eugene A. Batelli, DPM 1117 Route 46 East, 2nd Floor Clifton, NJ 07013 973-365-2208 Zina Cappiello, DPM 886 Pompton Ave, Suite A-1 Cedar Grove, NJ 07009 973-857-1184 Glenn Haber, DPM 140 Grand Ave. Englewood, NJ 07631 201-569-0212

Matthew Welch, DPM 6506 Park Ave. West New York, NJ 07093 201-662-1122 Anas Khoury, DPM 235 Main Ave. Passaic, NJ 07066 973-473-6665

PAIN MANAGEMENT Ladislav Habina, MD 1117 Route 46 East, 2nd Floor Clifton, NJ 07013 973-357-8228 Kazimierz Szczech, MD 1033 Clifton Ave. Clifton, NJ 07013 973-473-4400



Piotr Huskowski, MD 1005 Clifton Ave. Clifton, NJ 07013

Daniel Rice, MD 1001 Clifton, Ave. Clifton, NJ 07013 973-779-7231


CHIROPRACTIC Michael Gaccione, DC 26 Clinton St. Newark, NJ 07012 973-624-4000 Terry Mc Sweeney, DC 600 Mount Prospect Ave. Newark, NJ 07104 973-485-2332

ENT Stephen Abrams, MD 1070 Clifton Ave. Clifton, NJ 07013 973-773-9880

John Mc Evoy, DPM 152 Lakeview Ave. Clifton, NJ 07013 973-340-8970

Binod Sinha, MD 1117 Route 46 East, 2nd Floor Clifton, NJ 07013 973-777-5444


Kevin Healey, DPM 152 Lakeview Ave. Clifton, NJ 07013 973-340-8970

Todd Koppel, MD 721 Clifton Ave. Clifton, NJ 07013 973-473-5752

Kent Lerner, MD 17 Jauncey Ave. North Arlington, NJ 07031 201-991-9019

Dr. Zina Cappiello

Dr. Ramon Silen

Dr. Kazimierz Szczech

Dr. Jeffrey Miller, DPM


General Surgery

Pain Management


OPHTHALMOLOGY Charles Crowley, MD 1033 Clifton Ave. Clifton, NJ 07013 973-472-6405

GENERAL SURGERY Kevin Buckley, MD 1100 Clifton Ave. Clifton, NJ 07013 973-778-0100 Edwin Kane, MD 1100 Clifton Ave. Clifton, NJ 07013 973-778-0100 Ramon Silen, MD 1117 Route 46 East, Suite 301 Clifton, NJ 07013 973-779-4242

Dr. Eugene A. Batelli, DPM


Clifton Merchant • December 2013



Secretive Santas Today’s recessionary economic times are especially hard on families over “the holidays.” As unemployed parents struggle just to put food on the table and clothes on their children’s backs, it’s correspondingly a seasonal chore to come up with the extra money they need for presents for their loved ones. To help make the holidays a little brighter for such affected families, groups around town have organized “Secret Santa” projects to identify needy children and provide them with some of the special gifts on their holiday lists. Workers at the Clifton Post Office, for example, will be carefully reading all of the letters to Santa that are dropped off over the next few weeks to look for those from kids of families who need a helping hand. Residents who wish to participate may visit the Main Ave. Post Office during business hours to receive up to three of the letters to respond to with the requested gifts. You must provide identification before receiving the letters. All gifts should be wrapped and labeled with the recipients name and returned to the Post Office for delivery to families by postal carriers.

Nine year old Emma Hawryluk with her six year old sister Madison, both in “jammies.”

50 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Giblin and Oliver Toy & Book Drive Clifton’s NJ Assembly representatives, Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver and Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin, have launched their fourth holiday toy and book drive. Last year’s drive collected 300 items; the legislators say they hope to exceed that number and are asking residents to provide unwrapped toys and books for children ages 3 to 15 now through Dec. 16. Children at St. Peter’s Haven, the Boys & Girls Club and a variety of other charities have benefitted from the community generosity. To donate, drop off at Giblin’s office, 1333 Broad St., Mon. to Fri., between 9 am and 5 pm (973-779-3125) or at the Speaker’s office which is 15-33 Halsted St., East Orange., between 10 and 4 pm, Mon. through Fri., (973-395-1166).

Pajama Party At 9 years of age, St. Philip the Apostle student Emma Hawryluk wants to put into actual play in her life the principles of Christian charity she’s taught in school. So she recently attended a City Council meeting to ask for the Council’s aid in implementing Clifton’s very own version of a national charitable program campaign called the “Pajama Program.” The program provides new pajamas and books to children in local shelters, group housing and foster homes. “I would like children to feel warm and safe like I do when I go to bed every night,” Emma told Mayor Anzaldi and the council members in attendance who, moved by her plea, dutifully approved her request to accept donations at City Hall.. The people of Clifton will be able to drop off new. hopefully snuggly and warm, “jim-jams” (and books too) in boxes at City Hall, the Main Memorial Library and the Allwood Library. Donations will be accepted for children from newborns to teens. Collections end Dec. 13. Donations, besides keeping needy kids warm at night, will also help reaffirm one local 9-year-old’s already positive impressions of human nature, too. To help, contact their mom Sandy at or 201-310-7972. Learn more about this program

1084 Main Ave., Downtown Clifton


321 60th St., West New York, NJ


Drs. Dobrow, Qureshi, Beg and Mirza are housed at this State of the Art Surgery Center on Main Ave. where they will diagnose the sources of pain and restore health and function. The Pain Relief Center in Downtown Clifton has a full time staff of 10 specialized healthcare providers who are specially trained for surgeries related to pain management, spine, orthopedic and sports medicine. Our team of patient-oriented health care professionals will schedule your procedure so there is no waiting and even no driving... we’ll pick you up at your home and bring you to and from our State of the Art Surgery Center. At the Pain Relief Center, there is no need to drive to NYC and wait in traffic. Have your surgery done in Clifton and be home in four hours.

Dr. Mizra (left) and Dr. Qureshi perform a minimally invasive Lumbar Endoscopic Discectomy—Band-Aid Surgery—at the Pain Relief Center on Main Ave, in Downtown Clifton.

Band-Aid Surgery: Not so long ago, back pain relief surgery mean a large incision, open surgery and weeks of recuperation. However, in one of the more popular pain-relieving procedures performed by Dr. Neville Mirza at the Pain Relief Center in Downtown Clifton— the Lumbar Endoscopic Discectomy—the only incision made is covered by a Band-Aid and the patient can be home in four hours. Having trained at George Washington University Hospital Center and as an attending neurosurgeon at area hospitals, Dr. Mirza is a much sought after specialist in Neurosurgery and Micro-Surgery and has performed over 1,500 Endoscopic Discectomy procedures of cervical and lumbar disease.

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


The Porter Clan at last year’s David’s Day: Cassandra, Mike, Miranda, Michael, Jennifer and Alexis. At right, David.

Out of Tragedy, a Foundation On August 25, 2006, at the age of 4, David Nicholas Porter lost his 14-month battle with cancer. His favorite color was green, his favorite food was hot dogs (which proves he was thus a true “Clifton kid”), his favorite TV show was “Bob The Builder.” But from such appalling tragedy and resulting grief, nonetheless some good has come. His family, in response to the dread horror of pediatric cancer, has in fact created the “David Nicholas Foundation,” which works to help the families of pediatric cancer victims. Just to go to and read some of the stories of afflicted kids they have helped. The major event of the foundation’s year (though donations are of course accepted year-round, and the fight against cancer in kids is waged daily), is an annual “escorted” motorcycle ride. Next year’s ride is July 12, which quite understandably the Foundation terms “David’s Day.” The event is much more than the motorcycle run as it is a family day of activities. Donations may be sent to The David Nicholas Foundation at 22 Greendale Road, Clifton, NJ 07013, Attn: Mike Porter.

CHS DECA Supports MDA Marketing students and DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) members at Clifton High School are “Making a Muscle for Kids with Muscular Dystrophy” this month. Every summer the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) sponsors a free week of summer camp for afflicted kids 6-17. Activities include swimming, archery, campfires, sports, arts and crafts, and participating kids usually cite their free week at camp 52 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

as the best week of their respective years. The cost per camper for each week is $800. To raise money to get these kids to camp, DECA at CHS is sponsoring a “Dress Down Day” for the entire Clifton School District on Dec. 6 during which all, staff and students alike, in every school can make a donation. DECA is also asking all Cliftonites to join in this annual “celebration” and the ongoing battle against the childhood horrors of Muscular Dystrophy. Checks should be made payable to the MDA, marked “MDA Summer Camp, New Jersey” and sent to Clifton High School, 333 Colfax Ave., Clifton, NJ 07013, Attn: Mr. Howard Schlesinger, DECA Advisor.

First Lutheran Church and School 17 One great local “Secret Santa” program involves parishioners of the First Lutheran Church at 1337 Van Houten Ave., working hard alongside volunteers from School 17. Parishioner Bonnie Stambouli, a third grade teacher at the Lexington Ave. school, said this program has been going strong since 2004 when Tony Orlando was principal. “A letter is discreetly given to families that we know are in need of assistance,” Stambouli explains. “If the parents would like to participate, they complete the bottom portion of the letter identifying the name of each child in the family, gender, age, size and gift suggestions. We then forward these to the church and the gifts are returned to the school with the children’s names on them. The parents pick them up a few days before the holiday.” To help out yourself, call School 17’s Principal, Steve Anderson, at 973-458-6017 or the First Lutheran Church’s offices at 973-777-2617.

Welcome to our Practice

Dr. Michael DelGiodice is an author on ocular disease and Vice President of the NJ Chapter of the American Academy of Optometry. His specialities includes laser eye surgery, dry eye syndrome, contact lenses and neurologic eye disease. He is also a consultant for Bausch + Lomb pharmaceuticals.

Attefa Sultani, O.D., focuses on comprehensive eye care, from diagnosis and management of eye disease to contact lenses and post-operative care and can perform exams in Spanish, Hindi and Farsi.

Ceaser Pitta, M.D., specializes in diseases of the retina including Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy, Macular Holes, Macular Pucker as well as Detachment surgery.

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


Key Club “Locks In” Holiday Spirits The Key Club at CHS, an amazing 331-studentsstrong, under the able supervision of adviser Jacquie Turk, an English teacher at CHS, will be performing a special evening of humorous (Ms. Turk promises) skits and holiday folderol for pediatric patients at the Giggles Theater at St. Joseph’s Hospital for Children in Paterson on Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 6 pm. This event is also open to the general public. (Just bring an open spirit and a sense of humor.) Additionally the Key Club is collecting donations of money, toys and gift cards for the needy through Dec. 18. Donations can be dropped off at CHS’s main office during normal school hours.

Tri-M Hits A Highly Charitable Note The CHS chapter of Tri-M, (Modern Music Masters) Music Honor Society, a program of The National Association for Music Education that recognizes the efforts and achievements of music students who volunteer and share their musical talent with others, is holding a joint food and toys drive this Yule season. Food collected will benefit both St. Peter’s Haven of Clifton and Eva’s Kitchen of Paterson, toys are earmarked for

the Toys For Tots program. The current officers of Clifton High’s Tri-M Chapter, are Joseph Verrico, president; Mohin Patel, vice president; Paulina Edel, secretary; Anupa Mehta, treasurer and Mateo Varano, historian. If you’d like to donate nonperishable food items and/or a new toy yourself, please drop these items off in the CHS main office by Dec. 13 or contact one of the above chapter officers.

Hop On And Help The Homeless One of John Steinbeck’s novels is titled “The Wayward Bus” and, whatever you make of the title, it’s critically rated as one of his lesser novels. There’s a bus out of Clifton, however, which is far more purposeful and is in fact called “The Homeless Bus.” Their website: This effort was profiled more extensively in our December 2008 issue, but the specifics still hold: locals Aldo Alzapiedi, Mark Landgrebe and attorney Tony DenUyl revamped an old bus, purchased in 2004, to use for trips (700+ to date) into NYC to distribute food, beverages and warm clothing to the homeless. The bus itself was purchased in 2004 with $15,000 in “seed money” from Landgrebe, and the three Clifton men would love donations.

The CHS Tri-M club members, some of whom are pictured above, are conducting a food and toy drive.

54 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


They Sing Out! (Tirelessly, Round This Time of The Year)

56 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

As assorted divines have agreed for well over a thousand years, the greatest gift of all is to give freely of oneself. During any season, too. By that standard alone, CHS’s very own Madrigals prove themselves exceptionally charitable. On Dec. 6, for example, the Madrigals (which this year actually are truly all “gals”), have gigs at the Lakeview, Botany Village and Dutch Hill tree lightings, with Santa in tow. And then, pretty much without even time for a restorative mug of hot chocolate, it’s over to the Hamilton House to hang with St. Nicholas for tours of the museum by period-appropriate candlelight. The following day, these graced exemplars of glissando can’t even sleep in—they have yet another tree lighting in Athenia at 5:30. Come Dec. 12, they have their holiday concert at CHS at 7:30 pm. On Dec. 13, they’re singing at a Sandy Hook Vigil and Candlelight March, at 6 pm at Athenia Reformed Church and winds up at City Hall. Lastly, the ‘Mads pop up at City Hall on Dec. 14 for the Candy Cane Hunt for kids 5 to 8 pm. Note, too, how so many events are out-of-doors—winter’s atmospheric conditions can play hob with one’s voice.

Madrigals, with a few modern exceptions, basically date as musical compositions to early-through-late Renaissance Italy. They’re “partsongs,” always done without accompaniment. Popular recording artists the all-female Anonymous Four, are probably the bestknown exponents of modern madrigal singing. But here in Clifton, it’s CHS very own Madrigals (which most years do include male voices) who proudly bear this flag of commitment to vocal effort. And since we think they don’t get enough praise for their vocal efforts, we’re pleased to list them here: Vanessa CruzMascuch, Paulina Edel, Jenepher Estrella, Stephanie Farfan, Kylie Gonzalez, Rebekah Kusher, Kathy Kwiecien, Susan Liberti, Angela Mocera, Krystal Munesar, Chantal Ojeda, Nicolle Peralta, Steffanie Peralta, Jocelyn Sanchez, Sasha Sanon, Anna Stroinski and Wendy Timana. All the voices are under the highly skilled and devoted direction of Christina Paulin of the Music Dept. of CHS. To each and every, our profound thanks. Keep singing your collective hearts out, ladies (and gentlemen, other years). We do much appreciate your efforts.

Clifton Merchant • December 2013




HOLIDAYS By Irene Jarosewich December. The golden leaves have been raked and bagged, the crimson mums trimmed and tossed. All around, outdoor colors are turning into shades of grey and brown as nature goes to sleep. Indoors, however, nature is wide-awake, vibrant, bringing us cheer for the winter holidays. Hanukah, Christmas the New Year, all bring us weeks of celebration. At the center of all these holidays are traditions of food, drink and the exchanging of presents. Yet no less important is the tradition of decorating the places where we live and work, bringing home trees and boughs, flowers and fruits, berries and cones – interweaving elements of nature with sparkly lights, shiny ribbons, inflated balloons, glittery ornaments, softly lit candles to brighten the cold winter months. All year Corrado’s Garden Center at 600 Getty Ave. hums with activity. The garden center offers not only spring and sum58 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

From the top. made by “Cha-Cha” Williams at Corrado’s, a table display of roses and apples. That’s an actual boot decorated with greenery. And below it, a new take on the yummy apple martini.

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


mer plantings, but also a wide selection of natural materials to help you decorate throughout the fall and winter, from Halloween through Easter. The garden center is a part of the Clifton-based Corrado’s retail empire. While Pietro Corrado began selling produce in Paterson in the 1920’s, his son James is the one most often given credit for fueling the expansion of the family grocery business during the past 60 years. James’ children, and now his grandchildren, have expanded further, adding the garden center, wine making and home brewing, pet centers and locations in Wayne, North Arlington, Fairfield and Hawthorne. At its Clifton Garden Center during the Christmas season, Corrado’s is offering a large selection of Christmas trees, fresh and faux, pre-decorated and not, as well as holiday wreaths and draping garlands to help its customers decorate and celebrate. About 18 months ago, Corrado’s invited master floral designer Chonna (known to all as “Cha-Cha�) Williams to design and create unique floral arrangements for all holidays and events. The service took off and this year Cha-Cha truly has her hands full preparing Christmas arrangements for churches, office build-

ings, restaurants and large events. Now, Cha-Cha, who’s been a floral designer for more than 25 years, runs a floral department at Corrado’s that also makes smaller arrangements for homes. “People used to make their own Christmas decorations, centerpieces, table decorations, but not anymore. Life is too busy,� she says. So while people still want to keep the tradition of beautiful, natural decorations for the holidays, when time is short, they turn to Cha-Cha for help. Schneider’s Flowers In the middle of Clifton, Russ Schneider is also carrying on a family business, one started by his parents Leonard and Lois in 1948. Located in the same spot for 65 years, Schneider’s Flowers on Clifton Ave. (across from City Hall) is well known for its bouquets of longlasting fresh cut flowers and signature winter holiday service – custom decorating homes and offices. Schneider recently decorated another long-time Clifton business, Morre Lyons Jewelers in Richfield Center, a client of Schneider’s Flowers for many holiday seasons. The owners and staff could not be

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more pleased. Rosalie Soccol of Morre Lyons declared that the decorated space is “simply beautiful!” “Russ is very creative, a true professional,” she says. “Our store looks wonderful, festive. We love it! His decorations not only brighten up the store, but also brighten up our lives. We invite everyone to come and visit us and see what a great job he does.” Russ and his team provide Christmas trees, wreaths, garlands, greens arranged with lightning and decorations in a design plan that he creates specifically for each customer. Not only does he provide the design and materials, he and his team Russ Schneider with Linda Dubnoff at her store, Morre Lyons Jewelers, in will come to your home or office and the Richfield Shopping Center at Allwood Rd. and Clifton Ave. put the decorations in place. come in the fall so we can make a custom design for Schneider has a steady clientele and will design for them.” Decorating for the holidays takes time and is new clients, but because of timing, “I’m not sure that I not necessarily easy, often requiring ladders, tools, and can add too many new customers this year, but I hope good coordination. Schneider’s clients are grateful to that customers will remember me for next year and will have a professional help them.

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Passaic County Clerk

Kristin Corrado 62 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Richfield Farms Among the oldest family-run businesses in Clifton is Richfield Farms on Van Houten Ave. near CHS. Established in 1917, William Morton and his sister Jessica Byrne are the fourth generation to be managing the 5 acre family farm and garden center. Richfield Farms emphasizes organic gardening and for the second year this summer, ran a local CSA – for “Community Supported Agriculture” – program to provide fresh, local produce to Clifton residents. In the late fall and winter, for the holiday season, Richfield Farms provides their customers the freshest evergreens, beautiful poinsettias and lovely decorations for both the inside and outside the home. The center offers fresh cut premium Christmas trees from 3’ to 14’ tall, ‘premium’ being the highest quality grade of Christmas tree available. The trees come with predrilled holes in the base, part of the unique ‘stand straight’ system that helps guarantee that the tree will not lean to the side when you place it at home, eliminating the need for sawing and guide wires.

Since 1988, my family and I have run our meat market at 189 Parker Ave. Using traditional recipes, we prepare pork, beef and meat products, home-style hickory smoked ham, sausage, salami and all kinds of cold cuts. We also sell ground poppy seeds and ground walnuts and many traditional Hungarian food ingredients. All our products are prepared with knowhow and tender love and care. In my store, or via UPS delivery, you will receive the best— foods which praises the tastes and inspires the soul.

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The Rozsa Family Marika & Andrew

We’ll Mail Your Order! • Pork,

Beef & Meat Products • Home Styled Smoked Sausage • Salami & All Kinds of Cold Cuts • Holiday Hams & Traditional Foods • Hungarian Delicacies • Spices & European & Hungarian Sweets Clifton Merchant • December 2013


“Once people buy a ‘stand straight’ tree from us, and we are the only ones that offer this in the area,” Morton notes, “the customers are so satisfied that they continue to come back for a ‘stand straight’ tree year after year.”

Joe Hollis, at left, is a 2013 CHS grad who started as an intern at Edible Arrangements on Van Houten Ave. He is pictured with co-owner Dennis Montgomery holding their Star of David basket, which starts at $49.

64 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Decorating a cut Christmas tree is an option preferred by many, yet for those who want a live tree to plant outdoors with the first thaw, the center offers a large selection of potted evergreens that can remain indoors until spring. Custom wreaths that range from a tiny 8” to a large six feet across are handmade on site and Richfield prides itself on a selection of luxuriant roping for garlands and swags to decorate mantles and stair rails, carrying the scent of evergreen throughout your home. To keep those flames dancing in your fireplace throughout the holidays, Richfield can provide seasoned firewood. Just tell Santa to be careful! Halka’s Florist Gladys Fusiek joined Halka’s Florist on Van Houten Ave. in 1971. In 2000, she bought the florist shop from the original owners, who had opened the Athenia location in 1964. Gladys looks forward to celebrating the shop’s 50th anniversary next year. Customer loyalty, according to Gladys, is what she sees most during the holidays. “Lots of people have moved out of Clifton, often to other states, but

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


they still have friends and family here. Children send a present of flowers to their parents, a sister orders a centerpiece for another sister, people don’t forget. They know I know their families. They’ll call me and say ‘you know what my mother likes’ and I do.” People from Clifton have moved down the shore, Gladys says, but come back to Clifton for their holiday meals and Christmas parties and stop by Halka’s for their custom bouquets. Also popular for Christmas are the Teleflora centerpieces and mantelpieces, as well as arrangements based on holiday images from the paintings of American artist Thomas Kinkade, all of which are available through Halka’s Florist. Next to Shook Funeral Home, they also do arrangements to commemorate the departed. Edible Arrangements One of the most welcome of gifts during the winter months is the beauty of colorful, fresh fruit, a hint of summer brightness during the winter grey. While orders can be made online, Dennis Montgomery, the owner of Edible Arrangements on Van Houten Ave. invites everyone to come and visit the store in person, especially if ordering for the first time. “We like to have people come in to the store,” Montgomery said “to get a sense of the size of the fruit arrangement, what they want, to help them make the right selection.” The store offers Christmas and New Year arrangements, and a particularly popular one is the arrangement for Hanukah. Hire a Name You Know

Tom Hawrylko Jr.

66 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

“The Star of David Celebration,” he said, “has been offered for several years and is very popular with slices of cantaloupe and honeydew, grapes and strawberries arranged around fresh pineapple cut into a Star of David design.” The arrangement can even serve first as a centerpiece and then be served as dessert. Paulison Avenue ShopRite On your way to a party and need flowers at 7 pm, after other florists are closed? Convenience and good prices are the reasons that the floral department at the Paulison Avenue ShopRite is so popular place.

Maria Rivera is the Floral Manager of the Paulison Avenue ShopRite. She is pictured with her assistant Elizabeth Medoza, a 2013 Passaic High grad.

Floral Manager Maria Rivera has her department staffed from the store’s opening at 7 am until 8 pm. She and her staff will custom design bouquets, centerpieces and more. Then until the store’s midnight closing, customers can begin or end their shopping trip with a visit to the floral department, choosing from ready-made arrangements, mix and match 3 for $12 bouquets or picking from a selection of other cut flowers. Staff will be happy to wrap your flowers in floral paper and ribbon for a great gift presentation. Whether as a hostess gift or to brighten your home, poinsettias, the popular winter houseplant are available in the floral department throughout December. Ploch’s Home & Garden Center Ploch’s Home and Garden Center on Broad St. has been a Clifton mainstay for decades. Linda and Joe Spirko bought the location from George and Pauline Ploch in 1976, who’d run a fruit stand at the site for many years. The Spirkos expanded into a full garden center and now have a second location in Wayne, Strawberry Blossom. Joe is now retired and Linda runs the garden

centers with her son Michael, as the management torch passes to the next generation. Ploch’s, according to Michael Spirko, offers complete decorating for the holidays. “When you come into Ploch’s, you will see a full decor and gift shop for holiday home decorating. “We have Christmas trees, roping, wreaths, and we also have ornaments, mantelpieces, lighting.” In just one location, you can buy evergreens, as well as the baubles and bling that will make your arrangements special. And while making your home lovely indoors is what Ploch’s loves doing most, Michael also notes that one of the most important parts of Ploch’s winter sales is “birding” supplies – houses, feeders, seed for those birds who remain in town for the winter. Seeing birds at your feeder in the morning after a nightly snowfall really is one of the best gifts offered by winter. Linda Spirko especially loves running the garden centers. “Despite the economy, people still want to do something special, something beautiful. That’s why we’re fortunate. We continue to offer people the opportunity to have something beautiful in their lives every day.”

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


A a a

Semra Ayale does custom rhinestone designs, in essence makes “Mustangs” young and old sparkle. Her retail shop, Crystal Art Designs, is at 86 Market St. See more at

If it’s played remotely, electronically and/or sitting down, Game-On! at 120 Market St. likely has it and can even help teach you to play it or help find you a partner.

Absolutely Fish at 1080 Rte. 46. Piscine heaven. No cod filets or Nova, but every “live” variety imaginable in their tanks.

Wheels Jewelry “Clasp the Lock, Toss the Key, State Your Love & Kiss Me” This amorous tradition is epitomized by the Votivo line of tres Parisienne jewelry and fragrances. 1214 Van Houten Ave.

Clifton Billiards For the pool shark in your family, a gift certificate for the game of both lowlifes and kings. Great beer list and espresso, too. Downtown Clifton, 1158 Main Ave.

Barnes & Noble. Books, books and, for a change of pace, more books. Occasional author appearances, too, great coffee and light bites! In Clifton Commons.

68 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

At AMC Movie Theatres in Clifton Commons, take in a blockbuster. With nachos, maybe. Gift certificates are great stocking stuffers. PowerflowYoga Perspire pointedly, to near the point of dehydration. (Just like in a stifling Indian summer!) Starting in January at 1288 Van Houten Ave., and a first in Clifton.

At the Paulison Avenue ShopRite, find a great selection of toys ranging from these Barbie’s to games, plush stuffed animals and classics like a miniature ShopRite truck.

Sensei Jim Meghdir shared this photo of his Clifton Martial Arts Academy (at 891 Bloomfield Ave.) students Virginia Fererras and Rochelle Brodkin receiving new belts.

Sports Authority. Indeed, where else for sports equipment and clothing? Clifton Commons, directly across from B&N.

Lacki’s Jewelry, 625 Van Houten Ave., Clifton’s very own “House of Diamonds and Pearls.” And lots of other great sparkly stuff too.

Proud Official Transmission Supplier to Jolly Drivers

45 Atlantic Way (790 Bloomfield Ave)


Mark or Brian Clifton Merchant • December 2013


Pork rules! We have several great Polish delis in town plus the Hungarian Meat Market at 189 Parker Ave. Go and bet your dupa at/on any of ‘em.

Wine (and beer) making at Corrado’s. A few tickets to the 15th James Corrado Amateur Wine-Making competition on Jan. 24 is a great gift idea for anyone who enjoys the refined grape and delicious food.

Stew Leonard’s Wines in the Clifton Promenade offers a great selection of wines and distilled spirits. Hard-tofind, low production craft beers too.

70 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Hookahs for any aspiring pashas out there. (And yes, we know it’s not really a nice habit, more an index of changing ethnic patterns.) But Clifton sure has plenty of places at which to buy these rather complicated-looking contraptions and channel your inner Ottoman, including the new Castle of Hookah at 279 Crooks Ave.

If you don’t have time to “bake it yourself,” Lakeview Bakery may just prove to be paradise. They are at 308 Lakeview Ave., 7 days a week.


Mr. Cupcakes. Hostess or Tastykake this decidedly ain’t. And every one’s a piled-high mound of flavor. 1216 Van Houten Ave.

The Bike Shop. BMX, touring, whatever, if it’s two-wheeled they’ve got it and can service it. Quickly, too! 697 Van Houten Ave.

Edible Arrangements Fruit, slyly disguised. Sometimes with (“strictly for medicinal purposes” as W.C. Fields used to say) chocolate. 890 Van Houten Ave.

Dayton Chocolates...this, we assure you, is the real hand-dipped, high cacao content stuff. 110 Market St. in the Allwood section. Wow! And wow again!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

Lauren Murphy 2014 Candidate for Clifton City Council The progress the voice


need... deserve. paid for by Lauren Murphy for Clifton Council

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


Basketball • Hockey • Wrestling • Track • Bowling • Swimming


Varsity Mustangs, from left, Ramsey Hemeid, Elijah Robles, Courtney Dixon, Emmer Sanchez, Kamil Garbowski, Xavier Grant, Malik Mazzone. Bottom: Steven Madzarov, Milton Cordero and Tyler Lavin.


n three years as a Mustangs assistant Mustang Sports by Tom Szieber coach hopes to achieve. Robles is between 15 and 20 pounds heavier than coach, Mike Rivera has had time to last year, most of that girth coming in the form of solid assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Clifton boys muscle. Along with enhancing his durability and basketball team. As the squad’s new head coach, he now strength, his growth should make him even better at getgets the chance to take ownership of a team that he ting to the hoop. believes is ready to make huge strides—even if its 6-17 “I believe we have one of the best backcourts in the record of 2012-13 suggests otherwise. league,” Rivera said. “Elijah is tough to guard. Last year, “We were better than our record,” Rivera said. “There he couldn’t contend with bigger players. This year, that were about four games that we lost by about four points. won’t be a problem.” Some games could have gone the other way if the team Robles’ power, combined with the shooting ability had worked harder to build strength in the offseason. I’ve and ball-handling skills of senior shooting guard Xavier tried to emphasize that right away.” Grant, makes Rivera’s confidence understandable. Grant The Mustangs got pushed around too frequently last is Clifton’s biggest offensive threat, and averaged 14 season, and were on the wrong side of games in which points per game last season. The Mustangs’ backcourt they may have been superior athletically. Rivera’s misshould also have depth with junior forward/guard Joelvis sion has been to address that issue, and senior point Cornelio expected to provide solid minutes. guard Elijah Robles exemplifies the goal the new head 72 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant


MUSTANG SPORTS Boys Basketball CHS Boys

Basketball Dec 13 Dec 14 Dec 17 Dec 20 Dec 23 Dec 26 Jan 3 Jan 7 Jan 9 Jan 11 Jan 14 Jan 16 Jan 21 Jan 23 Jan 25 Jan 28 Jan 30 Feb 4 Feb 6 Feb 8 Feb 11 Feb 13 Feb 18 Feb 20 Feb 21 Feb 25

North Bergen 4:30pm Saint Mary's 11am @ Vernon Township 4:15pm @ PCTI 4pm Nutley 4pm @ Bloomfield TBD John F. Kennedy 4pm @ Eastside Paterson 7pm Passaic 4pm @ Bergen County Tech. TBD DePaul Catholic 4pm @ Fair Lawn 4pm Wayne Valley 4pm @ Wayne Hills 7pm Kearny 12pm PCTI 4pm @ John F. Kennedy 4pm Eastside Paterson 4pm @ Don Bosco Prep 7pm @ Dickinson 1pm Bergen County Tech. 4pm @ Passaic 4pm West Milford 4pm @ Lakeland 4pm Ridgefield Park 4pm Passaic Valley 4pm

Cornelio was one of the top contributors to Clifton’s championship run in the Bloomfield Summer League and has consistently impressed Rivera with his athleticism. He can either spell Robles or Grant or join them on the court at the three-spot. Senior Steve Madzarov is a strong all-around player with a similarly versatile skill set, allowing him to play in multiple spots. Senior forward Tyler Lavin is an experienced player who can shoot and handle the ball, but suffered an ankle injury during the offseason that kept him off the court for most of the summer. Rivera knows that once the injury is behind him, Lavin will be an asset. “Tyler has great value on defense,” Rivera said. “He is especially good in the two-three zone because of his length.”

In the middle, Rivera believes senior center Milton Cordero is bound for a big season. Cordero has exceptional vision and passing ability, and is fast enough to defend shiftier opponents, as well. “Milton’s basketball I.Q. is outstanding,” Rivera said. “He is our best passer, and can see three to four plays ahead. He is a genius on the court, which shortens the amount of time it takes for him to adjust after coming over from football season.” Senior forward/center Courtney Dixon is tough, physical and long. He will free up Cordero to defend in the backcourt when necessary. “We always knew we could compete, and now our guys know that they can play with good, high-caliber teams,” Rivera said. “When we play with that kind of confidence, it makes things different. I have a lot of confidence in this team.”

164 Getty Ave., • T: 973.478.4848 • •

Wishing You a Wonderful Holiday Season and a New Year of Prosperity and Happiness Clifton Merchant • December 2013



MUSTANG SPORTS Girls Basketball

From left, Karleigh Davilla, Jeanette Volkow, Jen Koppers, Sidnee Maldanado, Gabby Garcia, Kelly Douglass, Karen Friedman and Nikki Guzman.


or many years, Clifton girls basketball was an afterthought in the city’s athletic scene. Then Craig Alfano came along. In the two short years under his watch, the Mustangs girls program has gone from one that sometimes seemed to be “just there” to one that is highly competitive in a brutally difficult Big North Conference. “I think there is a sense of pride in our program,” Alfano said. “Being the best Clifton girls basketball team in 21 years (something last year’s squad accomplished) is really something to be proud of. We 74 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

CHS Girls

Basketball were in the Great Falls Summer League at Kennedy this year; two years ago we struggled to get players to come. But this summer, we sometimes had as many as 13 players. It showed the excitement from the returning players.” The excitement is understandable coming off a season where the Mustangs went 13-12—their most wins since 1992—with four of those defeats coming at the hands of perennial Passaic County power Kennedy. They will look to build on a big 2012-13 behind first-team AllPassaic County junior Kelly

Dec 20 Dec 21 Dec 27 Jan 3 Jan 7 Jan 9 Jan 11 Jan 14 Jan 16 Jan 18 Jan 21 Jan 23 Jan 28 Jan 30 Feb 4 Feb 6 Feb 11 Feb 13 Feb 18 Feb 20 Feb 25

PCTI 4pm at Pompton Lakes 10am @ Union City 4pm @ John F. Kennedy 7pm Eastside Paterson 4pm @ Passaic 4pm Bergen County Tech. 12pm @ DePaul Catholic 7pm Fair Lawn 4pm Memorial 12pm @ Wayne Valley 7pm Wayne Hills 4pm @ PCTI 4pm John F. Kennedy 4pm @ Eastside Paterson 4pm @ Immaculate Heart 7pm @ Bergen County Tech. 7pm Passaic 4pm @ West Milford 7pm Lakeland 4pm @ Passaic Valley 7pm

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


MUSTANG SPORTS Girls Basketball Douglass, who has already scored 507 points in just two seasons. A point guard on paper, she can play all five spots, and brings an array of skills to the floor. “Kelly is very versatile,” said Alfano. “She is our leader in scor-

ing, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, and just about every other category. She will obviously play a huge role in our success.” Kelly’s older sister, Sara, is a senior who will provide leadership to go along with her talent, and will be relied upon to replace some of the points lost with the graduation of Jackie Bergen. Senior Sidnee Maldonado averaged six points per game last year and is one of the better all-around players on the Mustangs’ roster. She also plays with an intensity that Alfano hopes will continue to rub off on her teammates on a game-to-game basis. “She is one of our best defenders and she has such a great motor,” noted Alfano. “She is one of the most well-conditioned players on our team, and just a tremendous

Roofing • Siding • Seamless Gutters Additions & Alterations

(973) 772-8451 Thanks Neighbors and Clients, from Wishing you the Genardi Warm Thoughts family! this Holiday Season! 76 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

athlete overall.” Jen Koppers, a 5’10” forward who made a name for herself on the volleyball court this fall, will round out the Clifton senior core. Alfano believes that his strong senior contingent, along with a group of young role players who he feels will step up, the Mustangs can continue to build from the recent season that put them on the map. “I think most people in the league didn’t have us tapped to win too many games last season, and the fact that we won 13 games, it kind of put Clifton girls basketball back on the radar,” Alfano said. “I think a turning point for us was a double overtime loss to Kennedy in the county tournament. Even though we came up short, taking them to two extra periods kind of turned some heads.”

The Paramus Catholic Paladins are proud to be a part of the Clifton Veterans Parade. Marching Paladin drum major in white is Tyler Vandenberg. Other Cliftonites in the band include: Christopher Daniello, Leah Minio, Rushabh Naik, Ebuka Onwucheckwa and Jessica Santana.

Come and see why over 145 students from Clifton are making PC their high school of choice! • New Tablet Program & Online Classes • 133 Courses, Including - 24 Honors Classes - 19 AP Classes • New Track & AstroTurf Stadium Field • Full Music Program & Marching Band • Stable, Strong, & Future Focused • Cost Effective Tuition • Large School Offerings, Small Class Size • Fully Wireless Facility Scan the QR code for more information

Clifton Merchant • December 2013



Ready to hit the ice, from rear left, Billy Gibson, Justin Bennion, Brittany Meneghin, Matty Kolodzieczyk Dennis Ruppe. Front from left, Christian Duffy, Andrew Pica, Giancarlo Osnato, Graydon Swartz and Zach Doka. Missing from photo are seniors Timmy Finan and Jarred Solarozano.

Despite an 8-12-3 record, last year’s Mustang ice hockey team made it to the NJSIAA Public A state playoffs before bowing out to a good South Brunswick team. This year, head coach Tom Danko hopes the team can utilize increased depth and get greater overall consistency to make a deeper run in the postseason. “I am looking for an improvement,” Danko said. “I think defensively we have the pieces to get better. I think if we improve on all areas of the ice, we will be a competitive team.” Clifton has a unique situation between the pipes, with the brother tandem of junior Bill and freshman Tyler Gibson both seeing time. Bill was a varsity goalie a year ago, while Tyler is an experienced traveling team player. Danko has confidence no matter which is in the net, and feels both can be the reason for victories throughout the year. Defensively, the Mustangs will rely on a trio of juniors to support the Gibson brothers. Chris Duffy will lead the bunch, with Justin Bennion and Giancarlo Osnato in the mix, as well. “All three of the defensemen give you great effort,” Danko said. “It certainly helps to have guys who have been there before and are used to the competition. There is no ‘breaking them in,’ so to speak.” Two-time first team All-Passaic County player Dennis Ruppe will lead the offense, flanked by fellow junior Matty Kolodieczyk, a big-time scoring threat. Senior Tim Finan should see regular time, as well. 78 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant


Hockey Dec 6 Dec 8 Dec 11 Dec 13 Dec 20 Dec 21 Dec 23 Dec 27 Jan 3 Jan 5 Jan 11 Jan 15 Jan 17 Jan 25 Jan 26 Jan 29 Jan 31 Feb 1 Feb 7 Feb 12

River Dell 7:10pm @ Paramus Catholic 3:30pm Wayne Valley 3:10pm Millburn 5pm @ Passaic Valley 7:10pm Governor Livingston 6:30pm @ Fair Lawn 7:10pm Hudson Catholic 5:30pm Passaic Valley 7:10pm @ Hackensack TBD Fair Lawn 7:10pm @ Jefferson Township 8:20pm County Tournament TBD @ River Dell 11:45am @ Ridgewood 7:30pm Paramus 3:10pm Paramus Catholic 7:10pm @ Dumont TBD Hackensack 9pm 3:30pm @ Bayonne

St. Mary High School 64 Chestnut St., Rutherford, NJ 07070 201-933-5220 •

Become a

“Gael For A Day!”

We’re St. Mary High School, a/k/a “The Gaels,” and we proudly term ourselves “Small, Personal and Catholic” If you’d like to find out for yourself what that really means, and how our complete commitment to those words can help your child achieve his/her own best, then please consider our “Gael For a Day” program. Prospective students spend a day “shadowing” a Gael throughout an “average” school day at St. Mary. The objective is to explore the special bond that develops between our students and all of us at our nearby small, personal, Catholic high school. For further information, and for the opportunity to explore firsthand how being a “Gael For A Day” can lead to a lifetime of academic and personal achievement, call Mike Sheridan, our Admissions Director, at 201-933-5220, x270. Clifton Merchant • December 2013




Wrestling Front from left: unidentified, John DuBois, Anthony Tuda, Khaul Zawaide, James Murdoch, John Routis. Middle: Patrick Depasque, Daniel Czarnecki, Cory Peirone, Eddie Mazur, Stephen Gonzales, James Sonzogni. Back: Tyler Nasr, Maurice Marsilla, Max Rios, Orlando Lisboa, StevenVidal, Eric Cruz, Steven Naideck, Mahmoud Allen, Tarek Awad.


lifton wrestling has flourished under head coach Dan Geleta, but the 2013-14 version of the Mustangs looks as if it could be the best one yet. They have been consistently competitive in the Big North and District XV for several years, but this season’s squad truly has the look of a championship team. “We will be well-balanced and experienced,” said Geleta. “Our team’s goals are always to win the state sectionals, win districts, and win our league. But we are only 80 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

going to do as well as our supporting cast will allow. They’ll be as important as the place winners.” The Mustangs were 16-5 last year, reaching the North 1, Group 4 semifinals, and saw two of its grapplers—Jean DuBois and Mohammed Farhan—reach the state tournament in Atlantic City. They placed third in District XV, while taking fifth in the Passaic County Tournament. Most of the key contributors from a year ago are back on the mat. DuBois, a senior, leads the

Dec 21 Dec 28 Jan 3 Jan 4 Jan 7 Jan 10 Jan 11 Jan 15 Jan 17 Jan 18 Jan 22 Jan 25 Jan 29 Jan 31 Feb 1 Feb 5 Feb 7

Invitational Tournament @ Bloomfield @ Ridgewood

Cranford, N Bergen Passaic Becton @ Union City @ Don Bosco Prep PCTI @ West Milford @ Fair Lawn @ West Milford(Tourn.) @ Wayne Valley

John F. Kennedy @ Barringer

Eastside Paterson Ridgefield Park

9am 10am 7pm 10am 6pm 6pm 10am 6pm 6pm 10am 7pm 10am 7pm 6pm 9am 6pm 6pm

pack after taking fourth at the 113pound weight class last season. DuBois was 38-3 overall and won district, region and county crowns along the way. “I think he’s improved a lot since his last high

school match,” Geleta said. “I think he is definitely one of the top guys in this state at 120 and he has had a good offseason. I believe Jean can win a state championship.” Farhan, now a sophomore comes into the winter looking to improve on an impressive 35-5 freshman season in which he won a district title of his own. Farhan lost in the finals of the Region IV and Passaic County tourneys, but finished 24th in New Jersey overall at 106 and took first in District XV. Seniors James Sonzogni and Khalil Zawaide are both star-quality wrestlers, as well, and both showed they could win on a big stage by claiming district championships last season. Sonzogni won a county title, as well. To close the deal on a sectional title, the Mustangs will need to see the likes of sophomore Patrick DePasque and seniors Steve Naideck, Daniel Czarnecki and Tarek Awad pick up consistent points. If they can add to the progression of an already deep and talented corps of wrestlers, there is a very real chance that this Clifton team could make history with its first sectional championship since 1986.

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Clifton Merchant • December 2013



These Mustangs are indoors now: back row, from left: Octavio Sanchez, Asma Baker, Marla Minnella, Justin Mascardo, Justin Tanayan. Kneeling: Isam Boukattaya, Maria Barbieri, Jeremy Hernandez, Jay Rana.


any teams work for years, never achieving a single campaign as successful as an average one for Clifton track and field. But Mike Rogers’ squads are well-oiled machines, going into each season looking to uphold the long held standard of excellence to which the Mustangs have become accustomed. This season should be no different, as Clifton will look to contend once again for league and county championships. “We only have a handful of seniors back this year, but a very talented sophomore group,” Rogers said. “I think this year will be a year of them garnering experience, but I expect us to be competitive this year, as well— just like every other year.” For the girls, the defending Passaic County champions, seniors Cassidy Cardone, Marla Minnella and Asma Baker will lead the way. Cardone, in particular, had a breakout season during cross country, and is one of the best pole vaulters in the area. Junior Sofiya Nedelcheva is a skilled distance runner with a great deal of big meet experience, while junior Daliyah Pierson will likely be the Mustangs’ top sprinter. 82 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Sophomore Monika Dlugosz—who placed in sectionals last year—will lead the aforementioned tenth-grade contingent. As for the boys, Rogers believes they too can remain a contender. “I’d hope to at least repeat what we did last year,” he said. “I believe they can compete for a league and county title once again.” Coming off a cross-country state sectional title, senior Justin Tanayan appears primed to continue his roll indoors. Last year, he placed second in North 1, Group 4 in the 3200m. Seniors Jeremy Hernandez and Octavio Sanchez had big junior seasons, and Rogers believes they should progress once again. Senior Dwyer Halliburton brings great versatility to the table, competing in the 400m, 800m and hurdles. His classmate, Tim Bryant, was an All-Passaic County athlete last year and competes in the high jump, long jump, triple jump and acts as a sprinter. Senior Isdael Leo was injured last year during the outdoor season, but his skills as a shot putter will be valued by Clifton this winter.



Track Dec 21 Dec 22 Dec 23 Dec 30 Jan 2 Jan 3 Jan 7 Jan 10 Jan 15 Jan 19 Jan 20 Jan 22 Jan 26 Jan 29 Feb 3 Feb 5 Feb 7 Feb 9 Feb 14 Feb 22 Feb 24


at Rothman Center 9am at Rothman Center 9am at 168th St. Armory, NY 4:30pm at 168th St. Armory, NY 10am at Rockland CC 4pm at Rothman Center 4:30pm Freedom Park, Garfield 6pm at Rothman Center 4:30pm at Rothman Center 4:30pm at 168th St. Armory, NY 5pm at Garfield High School 6pm at Rothman Center 4:30pm at 168th St. Armory, NY 6pm at Rothman Center 4:30pm at 168th St. Armory, NY 4:30pm at Rothman Center 4:30pm at Garfield High School 6pm at Bennett Center, Toms River 9am at Bennett Center, Toms River 4pm at Bennett Center, Toms River 10am at 168th St. Armory, NY 4pm

More Varsity Mustang Harriers, back row, from left, Ravi Patel, Cassidy Cardone, Valeria Montoya, Jonathan Canas, Antonio Castellar and Ryan Downes. Kneeling: Andre Villanueva, Tim Bryant, Isdael Leo and Manny Familia.











Clifton Merchant • December 2013



Mustang keglers, from back left: Bartolo Colon, Emani Johnson, Chardoniy Alvarado, Marvin Deguzman, Nick Vilardi and David Buonafina. Front, Philesteen Waqqad, Bryan Cammerino, Hudeyl Alasfar, Michael Puglisi, Natalie Valdez and Glorimer Obando.

There is no hiding the facts—both of Clifton’s bowling teams lost a lot to graduation. But veteran head coach Brian Small has always found ways to get the most out of his teams, and he is optimistic that his new crop of bowlers will have a successful winter. “I believe we will do well within our league, and we will compete,” Small said. “I am sure [our bowlers] are going to constantly improve as the year progresses.” The boys, who went 12-3 last year, will be led by junior Mike Puglis, who bowled two years at the junior varsity level. Senior Jose Rosado and sophomore Nick Vilardi are two other members of the roster who appear ready to make an impact for the 84 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Mustangs, and all three will take part in the 14th Annual North Jersey High School Singles Championship on Dec. 14 in Elmwood Park. The girls, too, will rely on a contingent of players that have worked their way through the Mustang ranks. Senior Klaudia Pirog will provide the leadership, while sophomores Veronica Viera and Catherine Juarez provide a foundation for the future. The Clifton girls were 10-4 a year ago. Despite the overall youth of both the boys and girls teams, Small notes that he saw some good bowling from his new group over the past several years, and must now simply develop greater consistency in the lanes.


Bowling Dec 3 Dec 6 Dec 9 Dec 12 Dec 18 Dec 19 Jan 8 Jan 9 Jan 13 Jan 14 Jan 21 Jan 23 Jan 27 Jan 29

Eastside Paterson Bergen County Tech John F. Kennedy Don Bosco Prep TBA Passaic West Milford PCTI Bergen County Tech Eastside Paterson Wayne Valley John F. Kennedy PCTI Passaic


4pm 4pm 4pm 4pm 4pm 4pm 4pm 4pm 4pm 4pm 4pm 4pm 4pm 4pm

“There were some points last year where some of these kids had better games than the varsity bowlers,” he said. “I am just looking for it on a more regular basis. Give me a few bowlers that average a 160 or 180 throughout the whole season, and I’ll take it.”


t d y -

e e



Swimming Some Varsity Mustangs at the Boys Club pool, from left: Katherine Fraczek, Tayana Castro, Elissa McMahon, Nicolle Chirinos and Ilada Manomat. David Korty, Michael Kommer, George Balkjy, Karl Catpo and Samuel Williams.

After winning seasons and competitive showings in both the Big North and Passaic County last year, Clifton head swimming coach Andrea Bobby is hoping her Mustang boys and girls can both have continued success in 2013-14. Despite the losses of some key swimmers, the Mustangs do have some important returning pieces that should allow them to perform well in the pool. “You have to win some relays, which takes four or five good people,” she noted. “I have to find places for everyone. We just need some of our swimmers to step up and fill out the lineup.” For the girls, who finished third in Passaic County last year, senior Ida Manomat will lead the way, specializing in long distance events. She mainly competes in the 500yard freestyle and 200 IM.

“Ida is good at so many things,” said Bobby. “She is a strong swimmer. Whenever I need her in certain places, I know I can move her around.” Juniors Tayana Castro, Katherine Fraczek and Elissa McMahon provide the Mustangs with depth and valuable swimming in breaststroke and short-distance events. Sophomore Stephanie Bienkiewicz and freshman Michelle Avendano provide some young talent that can contribute right away. For the boys, senior Michael Kommer will compete in the long distance freestyle, and should be a contender in the county tournament. His classmate, David Korty will give the Mustangs a strong swimmer at the breaststroke and the 200 IM. A third senior, Sam Williams, is a butterfly and sprint freestyle specialist.

Dec 3 Dec 6 Dec 11 Dec 12 Dec 18 Dec 20 Jan 3 Jan 4 Jan 8 Jan 10 Jan 13 Jan 14 Jan 21 Jan 23 Jan 28

@ PCTI @ DePaul Catholic Passaic Wayne Hills @ Fair Lawn @ Bayonne @ Old Tappan PCTI(County Meet) Wayne Valley Ridgewood Montville @ Hackensack @ Union City West Essex @ Hackensack

4pm 4pm 3:45pm 3:45pm 3:45pm 4pm 4pm TBD 4pm 3:45pm 3:45pm 4pm 4pm 3:45pm 5pm

At the top, the Mustangs seem to have the pieces to be right in the mix, though they will need some role players to emerge and help create depth. If that occurs, both teams can have opportunities to compete in the league and county. “We can certainly be a .500 or better team,” said Bobby. “But to beat the better teams in our area, we need to work hard. If that happens, I’m optimistic that we will do well. Clifton has always been a solid swimming town, and I hope it always will be.” Clifton Merchant • December 2013 85

By Richard Szathmary Continuing in a great new “tradition” (albeit one we only established just last month), we offer you five more “Students of the Month.” Each is outstanding for several reasons. Each does Clifton High, and by modest extension Clifton itself, proud. Each, we suspect, will do both even prouder as they move “past” Clifton and onto college, the armed services or the workplace in the years to come. Each is someone we’re proud to spotlight. Each student is someone it’s a pleasure to write about.

April Rastaetter

Sofia Benitez Quevedo

As for extra-currics, in her sophomore year Sofia joined the Robotics team. It was hard at first, she admits, but it’s also No Senior Slump For Sofia helped convince her to study From the North Wing, Sofia Benitez electrical engineering in college. Quevedo has nothing but high praise for “The team is like a second family the education she’s gotten at CHS. She to me,” Sofia adds. even uses the word “blessed” to describe As to why she’s now a Student the “amazing classes” where she “learned of the Month, her immediate a lot and had fun while doing so.” reply is “I’m honestly not sure.” She cites in particular Mrs. Susan Yes, she realizes there are “cerZarabi’s 10th grade English class, junior tain pre-requisites” that have to Joseph F. Janesak year pre-calculus with Mrs. Daniela be met, “including good grades, Buzzelli, and, for three years running, admirable citizenship and being a French with Mrs. Lindsey Cinque. good role model for younger students.” Looking back from this fourth year perspective, So Sofia realizes that others must feel she met those “some of my favorite memories from high school were pre-requisites in spades. Which only increases her own made in that class,” she says of Mrs. Cinque’s. sense of gratitude. “I am very thankful for the award,” Sofia says she’s lucky she’s been able to make a lot Sofia Benitez Quevedo concludes. She also promises of good friends in school. But two in particular, named, that she’ll continue to strive “to be a student worth respectively, Aulla and Daniela, go back as far as the emulating.” sixth grade with her. “I consider them to be my sisters,” Sofia explains. Shannon Shines On “Our get-togethers are always filled with laughter., The South Wing’s Shannon Christie cites as her own weird and interesting conversations or us lazily watchfave CAST teacher Michael McCunney. “He’s great at ing Internet videos. We have fun together,” and, lookmaking his class a fun learning environment.” And her ing to the future, “they will always have my back.” best friend is Jessica D’Anna. They date back together 86 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

to Pre-K days “and amazingly we’ve Terse Eastern Confidence never had a fight. We just love to Risa Takino, the East Wing’s laugh together, shop and just talk.” Student of the Month, claims biology They’re also cheerleaders together. as her personal class favorite, adding Besides her own considerable that “the experiments in the lab are duties at CHS, Shannon manages to always interesting.” find additional time to volunteer, Her best friends, dating back to sharing her skills. She is a cheerleadmiddle school, are Anisah Patel and ing coach to the Junior Mustangs and Andrea Paz and she rates them both as she has played goalie on the girls’ var“people I can count on.” sity lacrosse team. This Key Club member has been After school, she’s also served an Risa Takino active at the school and in the commuinternship at a local oral surgeon’s nity with this busy organization. But office. This experience led her to explore career Risa also much enjoys spending time reading in the options and she says it helped her subsequent resolve to library at CHS. And she understands very well why in study to become a Neonatal nurse. fact she is one of our Students of the Month: “Because As to what she enjoys “the most” at CHS? There are I did well in my classes.” We can ourselves only wish many things to celebrate, she says. “My classes, particyou continued success, Risa Takino. ipating in sports and spending time with my friends.” Lastly, she understands why she was chosen as a The Center Does Indeed Hold Student of the Month. April Raestetter, the Central Wing’s Student of the “Because I show leadership qualities, responsibility Month, says “it’s a tie” for her personal favorite CHS and an energetic spirit. Plus I show respect to my teachpedagogue. “It’s between Dr. (Elissa) Greenwald, my ers.” We especially like that last admission, Shannon. English teacher, and Dr. (Michael) Devine, my

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


Students of the Month biology teacher. Both of them love explain things.” Janesak commends what they teach and make it fun. Ros’s patience, which is always a use“It’s also great to learn from teachful quality in a teacher. ers who know so much,” she adds. His best friend, interestingly, is a Her best friend is a male, Bobby young woman named Jade, who is Lupo, “because we’ve known each “always there to talk to.” other since first grade and we’ve Outside of school, and in the great always been there for each other.” tradition of fictional character Dobie And Bobby Lupo, she stresses, is defGillis (if anyone remembers the initely “a friend I’d like to keep for eponymous early 60’s sitcom, whose the rest of my life.” protagonist sat in the park thinking in This young lady also has a raft of front of a copy of Rodin’s “The extra-curricular activities. She’s in the Thinker”), Janesak says he likes “to Mustang Marching Band (sometimes just hang out. Nothing specific, just Shannon Christie to us it seems easiest to ask instead, anything that catches my interest.” indeed, who isn’t in the band?), VP of He would like, however, to go into the Italian Club, varsity lacrosse manager, SCA VP and the medical field in some capacity post-high school. a volunteer at Clifton’s animal shelter. Not coinciden“Going to school helps me think of things other than tally, perhaps, she wants to be a veterinarian. my social life,” Joseph comments. “It takes away from “I can’t ever imagine going to a small school,” she all of the stress in my life outside of school and I can adds. “Clifton High School has so much to offer, so easily unwind. School went from being a stress maker to many dedicated teachers and staff as well as so many a stress reliever. diverse students.” And she has a solid understanding of “I feel like I made some of my biggest improvements why she’s a Student of the Month. She’s finally, she in the ASPIRE program,” he continues. “I have an announces with pride, mastered balancing the demands important job as the Period 1 office worker,” which of the classroom with extra-curricular activities, “while involves collecting the daily attendance reports from all I can still maintain my good grades.” classes, and “it takes planning, patience and respect. I must enter each class and it is important that I do not The Male Imperative interrupt the lessons. I always have a smile on my face The Annex’s very own Student of the Month, Joseph which seems to make the teachers smile.” F. Janesak, chooses Mr. Luis Ros, who teaches Social Perhaps most importantly, and refreshingly, Janesak Dynamics, English and Spanish at the Annex, as his sees his nod as Student of the Month as “an honor for favorite teacher. “A very good teacher,” Janesak emphathe whole Annex.” And he’s just one-fifth of this month’s sizes. “Someone who takes the time to listen and talented quintet, all of them with bright futures.

Have Clifton Merchant Mailed. $27/YEAR SUBSCRIPTION Mailed via first class to your home.

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Clifton Merchant • December 2013


That’s our writer Carol Leonard in front with her husband Tom. Other Manchester Mustangs seated from left: Rosemarie Alessi, Paula Saccoman, Eileen Russo, Josephine Ousta, Ann Szilagyi and Lillian Territo; middle row: Tony Alessi, John Saccoman, Joanne Ortega, Al Russo, Nora Fett, Sandy Barreca and Jim Territo.; back row: Janis Bonsignore, Ray Armellino, Walter DeGroot, Delmae Bautz, John Ousta and Joe Szilagyi. By Carol Leonard

With our kids all grown up and on their own, my husband Tom and I recently downsized from our large fourbedroom home in Rosemawr and moved to Ocean County. After 35 years in Clifton, it was a difficult decision to pick up stakes and relocate to another community, but we were ready for a new lifestyle that would take us into our retirement and older years together. We knew we wanted to be near the shore since we both enjoy spending time at the beach, so we visited a number of 55-and-over communities in Monmouth and Ocean counties. The home we purchased is in Renaissance at Manchester, a sprawling township bordering Lakewood, Jackson and Toms River. 90 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

The development includes 1,900 single family homes built around a golf course, with an active clubhouse and outdoor recreation complex, as well as numerous clubs and other special interest groups. Little did we know when we moved into Renaissance this past August that many of our new neighbors would also be from Clifton. The community is a very friendly place, and we were quickly welcomed by everyone we met. In the recreation area or at the clubhouse, conversations often turned to where we came from. Once we told them of our roots, they would ask, oh, do you know this person or that person who also lives here? They’re from Clifton, too.

After hearing that so many times, I decided to seek out some of my fellow Cliftonites to find out why they also came to Renaissance and learn what they’ve been doing since they moved here. One of the first people I met was Walter DeGroot. The former Clifton Fire Chief moved to Renaissance 10 years ago with his now deceased wife Kathleen. “I like the fact that there is so much to do here,” Walter explained. Manchester Shields Still lean and spry at age 79, Walter has been the resident volunteer tennis instructor and he still enjoys getting on the court to compete a few times a week. He also plays golf occasionally and is a member of the Men’s Club and the Shields, an organization at Renaissance made up of former police officers and firefighters. Since losing his wife four years ago, Walter tries to keep himself busy and involved in the community. “I have no idle time, I’m always moving,” he said. “If I’m not riding my bike, I’m out walking.” After our conversation, Walter handed me a list of a number of other couples from Clifton to contact, including fellow retired fireman Malcolm Couden and his wife

Marilyn, former deputy chief Tony Alessi and his wife Rosemarie, and retired police captain Jim Territo and his wife Lillian. Like a link in a chain, each contact led to more names of Renaissance people from Clifton. The Coudens have been at Renaissance for 12 years and are very socially active. “At first I didn’t want to leave Clifton,” Marilyn said. “But I love it here now. We enjoy the clubs and all the parties, and we have a lot of close friends.” Malcolm is an outfielder for the championship Renaissance Rebels softball team, which competes in the Ocean County senior league. Marilyn is a founding member of the Italian American Club and the Renaissance chapter of The Red Hats. She also attends exercises classes at the clubhouse and they both enjoy playing cards. After long careers, he with the fire department and she as a medical secretary, the Alessis wanted a more relaxed lifestyle in retirement. It turns out that they are still pretty busy, but in a fun kind of way. They both belong to several social clubs, including the Passaic/Morris Club, the Bergen/Essex Club and the Brooklyn Club (it turns out that you don’t have to be from those counties to

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join their clubs). Rosemarie enjoys mah jongg, which she learned after moving to Renaissance, and Tony serves on the Safety & Security Committee, along with Jim Territo. The Territos left Clifton in 1996 when Jim retired and they settled in Toms River before moving to Renaissance in 2005. Aside from the Safety & Security Committee, Jim likes to play a little golf with his wife. Lillian, who worked in the Finance Department for the City of Clifton, is a member of the Women’s Club and enjoys painting. Friends from Allwood Womens Club Former Allwood Women’s Club members Diane Aimone, Eileen Russo, Paula Saccoman and Joanne Ortega all live in Renaissance with their husbands, and they are now involved together as members of the Renaissance chapter of the Kimball Medical Center Auxiliary. The Aimones relocated from Clifton 10 years ago. Al is a member of the Men’s Club and is a volunteer outside the community with the St. Luke’s Church Food Pantry. In addition to Kimball Auxiliary, Diane enjoys playing cards. “We’ve made so many friends and we have a lot of fun,” she said.

Eileen and Al Russo, both play bocce, a very popular game at Renaissance. The community has its own league as well as a travel team that plays against other adult communities in the area. Al is captain of their league team. He is a member of the Men’s Club, she is a volunteer with the Performing Arts Club, and they both belong to a couple of social clubs. “We don’t play golf, but we have a very nice view of the golf course from our house,” Eileen commented. Paula Saccoman said she was taken by surprise some years back when her husband John said he wanted to take a ride to visit a community he had seen advertised in the NY Times. Little did she know at the time that the road trip would lead to a decision to buy a home and move to Renaissance. That was over eight years ago. A retired Seton Hall University professor, John is a golfer and enjoys going to the clubhouse gym to work out. “He goes faithfully every day,” Joanne said. John also serves on the Fitness Committee. Paula is past president of the Kimball Auxiliary and likes to play cards. They both also play shuffleboard, another popular game at Renaissance. About a year after the Saccomans moved to Renaissance, Paula’s sis-

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w w w. b i z u b . c o m 92 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

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ter Joanne and her husband Frank moved in as well. They belong to the Italian Club and the Passaic/Morris Club, and Joanne enjoys playing mahjong and shuffleboard. When Joanne Armellino retired from her job as an administrative assistant with the Newark Board of Education, she and her husband Ray, who owned a jewelry store, had no plans to move. “Then a friend suggested that we consider looking at some of the adult communities, and I’m glad we did, she said.” The Armellinos have been in Renaissance for eight years. “We visited a number of other places, but we kept coming back here,” she said. Joanne goes to the gym in the clubhouse very often and she also enjoys the outdoor pool during the summer. Ray likes to play cards with the guys and they both belong to the Passaic/Morris and Staten Island clubs. Former Rutgers Place Neighbors Last year, the Armellinos’ former neighbors from Rutgers Place between Valley Rd. and Broad St., Honey and Stan Seigel, also moved down to Renaissance. Honey’s sister has lived here for 13 years, so they had visited the community quite frequently. The Seigels belong to the Wine Club and play bocce together. Honey also attends exercise classes, plays mah jongg and serves on the Entertainment Committee, which books professional singers and other entertainers to perform for the community. The Barrecas, Sandy and Joe, have lived in Renaissance for 10 years. Joe is a decorator and he had a customer who lived here who he came to see. “He was so impressed with her house and the community, and he wanted to come for the golf,” Sandy said. While most of the golfers use riding carts, Joe still carries his own bag and walks the course. “He’s going all day long,” Sandy said. “He thinks he’s still 40.” Sandy is active with the Women’s Club and enjoys her weekly dance fit class. Delmae Bautz, who spent her childhood on Harding Ave., describes Renaissance as a great place to enrich your life. She and her husband Gordon moved to the community 12 years ago. “We grew up going to the Jersey Shore, so we wanted to move closer,” she said. “This community also has one of the most active clubhouses around.” 94 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Janis and Joe Bonsignore originally planned to retire in Vermont, but when her mother, who lived in Brick, became ill, they decided not to go that far. “We looked all over New Jersey before settling on Renaissance,” Janis said. “We felt that this gave us the most for our money.” Janis is a member of the Women’s Club and also enjoys Zumba classes and playing mahjong, as well as tennis and pickleball, a hot new sport that is becoming very popular at many adult communities. The game is played on what looks like a miniature tennis court using a paddle and poly ball, and combines the features of tennis, ping pong and badminton. The Bonsignores also play bocce together and Joe belongs to a gun club outside the community. “Every day I do something different,” Janis said. Arlene Clavin, a retired social worker, said she was looking for something new when she came across Renaissance and moved in nine years ago. “The prices were reasonable and I fell in love with it,” she said. “There are a lot of single people here. I feel comfortable.” Arlene is a member of the Singles Club, the Red Hats and the Bronx and Passaic/Morris clubs. She serves on the Disaster Response Committee and sings with the Performing Arts Club. The latter group puts on four performances a year for the residents. Her most recent appearance was in the show “Smokey Joe’s Café.” “In college I liked acting and singing, so this is a great outlet to do something that I enjoy with others who share my passion,” she said. A Place to Play One of the most physically active former Cliftonites I met here at Renaissance is Nora Fett, who moved to the community with her husband Michael eight years ago. While Michael enjoys reading and the quietude of his home, Nora is usually out and about playing everything from pickleball and ping pong, to bocce and shuffleboard. She bowls in the Renaissance league and was one of the organizers of the new water volleyball program in the indoor pool. “I was athletic as a child and I always wanted to do sports as an adult, but I just never had the time,” the former banker said. Fett also sings and acts in the Performing Arts Club, she’s a member of the Garden Club, and

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


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writes and shoots photos for The Renaissance Times, the community’s monthly publication. “Living here has given me a chance to do all the things I always wanted to do,” she said. “I have retired from my job, but I haven’t retired from life.” Josephine Faillaci moved to Renaissance with her late mother 13 years ago. Six month later, her sister and brother-in-law, Grace and Fred Giordano, followed them down here to live. “I was ready for a change and my mother was willing to come along,” Josephine said. “I looked around the area and liked the fact that this was a younger community.” Josephine likes getting together with Grace and Fred, and the three of them are in the bowling and bocce leagues. Grace and Fred also play golf together, a game that Grace took up when she moved to Renaissance. “I never would have imagined that I would be doing this,” she said. “My husband always wanted me to play and now I am. I just love it.” Some Still Working, But Part Time A former hairdresser at The Hair Designers salon off Valley Rd., Grace continues to work part-time at Charles Edwards salon in Manchester. Frieda and Rudy Gregg have also been Renaissance residents for 13 years. Some may remember Rudy from his days working on the police and fire signal systems for the City of Clifton. The Greggs play bocce and shuffleboard, and Frieda was the captain of the bocce team that won the division championship. She also makes use of the clubhouse gym to exercise and Rudy likes to swim in the indoor pool. “It’s been a lot of fun living here,” Frieda said. “We have things to do that we didn’t have at home in Clifton.” Josephine and John Ousta moved to Renaissance 11 years ago. They like the short distance of the community to the shore and to Atlantic City. Josephine is on the Kimball Auxiliary and likes to play poker and mah jongg as well as water aerobics. John is an avid golfer. “He plays practically every day,” Josephine said. They also belong to the Italian Club and play bocce and shuffleboard. 96 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Joe Szilagyi might still be a familiar name to those in Clifton. Before moving to Renaissance with his wife Anne, he served on the Planning and Recreation boards and was involved in politics. Joe likes to golf and was the founder of a weekly pinochle group that plays at the clubhouse every Monday evening. Anne enjoys water aerobics and country line dancing, and is also a member of the Kimball Auxiliary. “I’m not as active as I used to be,” Joe said. “But there’s a lot to do here if you want it, or you can just relax and take it easy.” I suspect that there are other former Cliftonites around the community that I have not met or included in this article and, if so, I apologize for the omission. I’m sure they are having a grand time at Renaissance as well. We have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like the community. Always from Clifton Many of the former-Cliftonites-turned-Renaissanceresidents still come up north to visit kids, grandkids, other family members and longtime friends. And there are some things they still miss about their old hometown. Tony Alessi enjoys visiting the FMBA 21 Fireman’s Hall on Valley Rd. because he misses seeing the guys. Marilyn Couden longs for the ease of shopping at all the malls, and Janis Bonsignore and Arlene Clavin pine for the great pastries and breads from Styertowne Bakery. “I had a wonderful life there,” Clavin said of her years in Clifton. Former Clifton Police Officer Jim Territo added, “I loved the job and I loved the city. I had a great team of guys to work with.” As for me and Tom, we will always remember the good times we had in Clifton raising our children. We enjoyed our house and the neighborhood full of kids, playing hockey in the street, soccer on our lawn and basketball in our driveway. Then there was PTO, Little League, travel sports teams and all the wonderful friends we made along the way. But it was time to move on to a new life, with new friends and activities to keep us active and healthy. The famous Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw, once said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.” Hopefully, at Renaissance we will never stop playing.

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


Cliftonites came out on Nov. 10 to salute those who served in the annual Veterans Parade. Staged on Van Houten Ave. the parade, led by the Marching Mustangs, and followed by seven more bands as well as floats, scouts, vets and others, stepped off at 2 pm from Huron Ave. The event concluded on the campus of City Hall to mark the 11th anniversary of the Avenue of Flags. Retired Clifton Police Sgt. Joe Padula, also a Korean era Army Vet, was the Grand Marshal.



Our community’s diversity is truly our strength. Celebrate Clifton. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays. Councilman Steve Hatala 98 December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Photo by Bill Van Eck

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


Nov Veterans Parade


I heard the bells on Christmas Day, Their old, familiar carols play and wild & sweet the words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men! Councilman Peter C. Eagler 100

December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


Nov Veterans Parade



December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


Nov Veterans Parade



December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

The Law Offices of Peter G. Aziz & Associates 1272 Clifton Ave • 973-778-4911 • Cell 201-562-6202 • • Peter Aziz is a familiar face to many in Clifton. Many remember him from his parents’ store, Moda Shoes & Clothing, which is still on the upper level of Styertowne Shopping Center. He began working there while in CHS, learning the ins and outs of the retail business. Nonetheless, he still found time to be a Mustang, playing lacrosse and participating in other activities before he graduated CHS in 2005. Peter went on to Montclair State University as a pre-law major and graduated with the Class of 2009. He then attended the Widener University School of Law, in Harrisburg, PA, during which he interned in Kings County District Attorney’s Office, the Essex County Prosecutors Office Megan’s Law Unit and various Garden State firms before graduating with the Widener Class of 2012. Peter G. Aziz & Associates LLC was founded in 2013 and he and his associates have diverse clients. “Our experience is different so our perspective is different too,” said Peter. “The lawyers in our firm understand the intrinsic structure of businesses and refer to real world knowledge to resolve your legal issues.”

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Even a century’s worth of years from now, Clifton will still remember and properly honor its only police office killed in the line of duty in the Clifton PD’s 93-year history, John Samra. That’s because on Fri., Nov. 22 a time capsule was buried at police headquarters behind a black granite memorial stone commemorating Samra’s death, ten years to the day after his diligent and dogged pursuit of someone driving with a suspended license as a result of a drug conviction. Samra’s passing hit Clifton, especially its’ “thin blue line” of police officers, hard indeed. The time capsule facilitates remembrance of the significance of Samra’s death in the best possible way: via its contents of news stories about and photos of Samra, his departmental badges and related police memorabilia. Whoever opens the capsule 100 years from now will get to know Johnny’s story. They will also be reminded of just what it is and what it takes to be a cop and of how some make the ultimate sacrifice so the rest of us may rest easy... God willing, too, 100 years from now, only John Samra will have been called on to do so.

John Charles Samra Jan. 8, 1962 - Nov. 21, 2003 Officer John Samra died in the line of duty. He will always be remembered by our community.

Clifton Police Officer John Samra • End of Watch November 21, 2003

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Clifton Merchant • December 2013


Community Events

At the Nov. 7 opening of the Alma Bank on Main Ave. in Downtown Clifton, from left: George Mejia of El Mexicano Restaurant, attorney Mike Andalaft, Margarita Pappas, Vice President and Relationship Manager of the bank, Mayor James Anzaldi and Alma Bank President George Katsiaunis. Clifton Savings hosted an Oct. 22 reception to welcome Paul Aguggia as the new Chair, CEO and President effective Jan. 1. Board members, standing from left Stephen Adzima, Joseph C. Smith, Charles J. Pivirotto, John H. Peto. Seated from left: John A. Celentano, Jr. (Chair), Frank J. Hahofer (Director Emeritus) and Paul M. Aguggia.




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December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

The Clifton Community Band presents its free holiday concert, Snowflakes and Sleigh Rides, on Dec. 7 at 3 pm at the Clifton High School auditorium on Colfax Ave. Founded in 2002 and directed by Robert D. Morgan, the Clifton Community Band is a traditional concert band with brass, woodwinds and percussion. Membership is open to the public and the band performs a variety of music including classical, pop, big band and marches. For details, call 973-777-1781 or write to

Eugenia Gore, Leonardo Macaluso and Tom Dzubina are among the members of the Clifton Association of Artists hosting a show and sale at the Clifton Public Library on Piaget Ave. through Dec. 28. Call 973-546-8977 or

The Passaic County Historical Society at Lambert Castle, 3 Valley Rd., Paterson, hosts a Holiday Wine Tasting on Dec. 13 at 7 pm with a hot and cold buffet and wines courtesy of Stew Leonard’s Wines of Clifton. Then on Dec. 15 at 1 pm, “Story Telling With Santa & Mrs. Claus” will offer children the opportunity to have their pictures taken with the “Big Guy” from the North Pole. Both events require reservations and have admission fees. On Dec. 20 from 6 to 9 pm, the “Valley Ringers” will be on hand to ring in holiday carols as you’ve never heard them before while visitors take self-guided candlelight tours of the castle. The seasonally decorated home of silk industry baron Catholina Lambert will be open for self-guided tours from 1 to 4 pm, Wednesdays through Sundays, Dec. 18 to Jan. 5. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $6 for kids age 6 and up. Details, call 973-2470085 ext 201 or go to The Tenth Annual Passaic County Film Festival is seeking submissions. This juried exhibition of students’ and independent filmmakers’ work showcases a wide range of film projects created by those who live, attend school, or work in Passaic County. All 10minute entries must be the sole effort of those submitting the work. The deadline is Jan. 30, 2014. There is no submission fee, entry to the festival on April 26 will be free, and screenings will take place at the Fabian 8 Theater in historic downtown Paterson. For info, call 973-569-4720 or e-mail

Millard C. Pickering, the Grand Exalted Ruler of Elks in the USA, (top left) visited the Clifton CP Center on Nov. 7. He is shown here with his wife Susanne, Dr. William Weiss, Director of the Center, and two of the students at the Main Ave. school. Clifton Merchant • December 2013


The 2013 Optimist Cup One year after having their 12-game winning streak on Thanksgiving snapped, the Clifton football team ended its season on a high note by downing the Indians, 21-6, on Turkey Day. Clifton wide receiver Milton Cordero scored on an 11-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Malik Mouzone, and also returned a blocked punt 10 yards to ice the game. Mouzone threw another touchdown pass to receiver John Voit from six yards out. The win gives Clifton a 44-36-5 advantage in the series, which dates back to 1923. The Mustangs finish 2013 with a 4-6 record. Photos by Ken Peterson


December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Mustangs 21 Indians 6

Clifton Merchant • December 2013


Birthdays & Celebrations - December 2013

Christina Kedl celebrates on Dec. 13. Katerina Blanos, daughter of John & Natile & sister of Kristina, turns two on Christmas day. That Athenia gem Greg Lacki is 57 on Dec. 5. Anthony ‘Tony’ O’Connor is 69 on Dec. 4 and his granddaughter Vivian Margaret Taras will celebrate her first birthday on Dec. 16.

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


December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

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 Chris Sadowski.................12/8 Noelani Coronel ...............12/9 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

Sarah Lombardo who many will remember as the welcoming voice of Clifton City Hall, turns 86 on Dec. 9. 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 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 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 Tom Melfi .......................12/30 Courtney Pinter ...............12/31 Clifton Merchant • December 2013


Clifton Traditions

The Optimist Clubs of Clifton and Passaic, along with Clifton Merchant Magazine, hosted the annual Hot Dog night on Nov. 20. These captains and their coaches were just nine of the 400 Mustang and Indian football players, cheerleaders and marching band members who broke bread a week before the clash to celebrate the 84-year-old Thanksgiving Day rivalry.

The Theater League of Clifton and the Clifton Arts Center have partnered in a festive and musical Christmas Cabaret fundraiser on Dec. 7 and 8. “The Many Faces of Christmas” offers an old fashioned song-and-piano-filled evening of Christmas music by the cast pictured below. Performances are in the beautiful Clifton Arts Center and guests will mingle as they enjoy a selection of wines and hors d’oeuvres.

Tickets are $35. The Dec. 7 show is 8 pm; Dec. 8 is at 2 pm, timed so patrons can attend the Christmas Tree Lighting at City Hall. Call 973-928-7668 or go to for tickets and info. Below, from left, Susan McDonald, Mark Peterson, Bob Bockstiegel, Barbara Novak, John Traier, Peter Arts, Dorene Bartley, Alexa Fernandez, Penny Surgent (not pictured: Stephanie Peterson).

Readers & Advertisers Due to the holidays we've moved the publication date of our January 2014 edition. Rather than the usual first Friday of the month, for this month only, we will distribute on January 10. 114

December 2013 • Clifton Merchant

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