Bayonne Life on the Peninsula Spring | Winter 2022/2023

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4 • BLP ~ WINTER 2022/23 COVER 20 CULINARY CAMP Department of Recreation Cover Photo Courtesy of The City of Bayonne FEATURES 16 PINING FOR PICKLEBALL Sporting Opportunities for Residents 24 MIGLIACCIO’S FUNERAL HOME A Staple in the Community 40 BAYONNE TRANSPORTATION #CityOnTheRise DEPARTMENTS 6 OUR STAFF 6 CONTRIBUTORS 19 POINT & SHOOT In Bayonne We Prey 30 SPORTS Paddle the Peninsula 34 ART Amanda Hernandez 36 DINING OUT Andrew’s Healthy Food 39 HANGING OUT WITH Jackie Weimmer 24 36 CONTENTS BLP

Winter 2022/23

Volume 8 • Number 2

Published twice annually

A Publication of Newspaper Media Group


Arlene Reyes


Luis Vasquez


Sharon Metro

Bayonne Life on the Peninsula is published by the Newspaper Media Group, 166-168 Broadway, Bayonne, New Jersey 07002, (201) 798-7800, Email Subscriptions are $10 per year, $25 for overseas, single copies are $7.50 each, multiple copy discounts are available. VISA/MC/AMEX accepted. Subscription information should be sent to BLP Magazine Subscriptions, 166-168 Broadway, Bayonne, NJ 07002. Not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts or other unsolicited materials. Copyright ©2022/23 Newspaper Media Group. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited.

Bayonne Life on the Peninsula is a publication of Newspaper Media Group 166-168 Broadway, Bayonne, New Jersey 07002 phone 201.798.7800 fax 201.798.0018

TERRI SAULINO BISH is the art director for The Hudson Reporter’s award-winning magazines and newspapers. Her work includes capturing many of the iconic photos featured in print and online across Hudson County.

DANIEL ISRAEL is a writer, photographer and videographer. He first set foot in Bayonne in 2018. Ever since, his life has centered around the city. When he’s not working, Daniel enjoys relaxing in 16th Street Park and visiting Bayonne’s coffee shops and eateries.

VICTOR M. RODRIGUEZ has studied photography, publication design, and graphic arts. “I’ve been fascinated by photography for 20 years,” he says.

MAXIM RYAZANSKY is a photographer whose work has been exhibited in galleries and published worldwide. A recent transplant to Bayonne, he spends his spare time trying to figure out the best pizza place in town.

TARA RYAZANSKY is a writer who moved from Brooklyn to Bayonne. She works as a blogger for Nameberry. com and spends her spare time fixing up her new (to her) 100-year-old home.

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Pining for

Serving Up Sporting Opportunities for Residents

Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the United States in 2021 and 2022. Pickleball grew in 2021 to 4.8 million players in the U.S., according to the 2022 Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) Single Sport Report on Pickleball. That is evident across the country, but especially in Bayonne, New Jersey.

This 14.8 percent growth from 2020 to 2021 follows 21.3 percent growth during the previous year. According to the SFIA , that equals an 11.5 percent average annual growth rate over the past five years.

Of the approximately 4.8 million total participants, 3.5 million were “casual” players who play one to seven times a year while approximately 1.4 million were “core” players who play eight or more times a year. SFIA stated the number of “core” participants did not grow from 2020 to 2021, but “casual” players grew by about 22 percent.

Of the total pickleball participants, roughly 60 percent are men and 40 percent are women, according to SFIA. However, recently, there has been a slightly faster rate of growth among women.

The average age for all players continues to drop, falling to 38.1 years old in 2021, a decrease of 2.9 years from 2020. SFIA stated the average age of “core” players is 47.9 and “casual” players is 34.3 years old.

A total of 52 percent of “core” players are 55 or older while 79 percent of “casual” players are 54 or younger, according to SFIA. Growth of total participants from 2020 to 2021 was the fastest among players under 24 years of age, totaling approximately 21 percent. Meanwhile, annual growth among players 55 and older was closer to 10 percent.

A mish-mosh of other similar sports

The name pickleball may sound foreign but it is actually more familiar than you would think. The sport combines elements of tennis, ping pong and badminton.

Pickleball is played with paddles similar to the ones used for ping pong.

A neon green ball used in the game is light in weight, and is similar to a wiffleball.

Players on either side of the net hit the to and fro across the net until one side commits a rule infraction. The serving team scores one point each time the non-serving team is at fault.

The first side to earn 11 points, in the lead by at least two points, wins the game. Tournament games may be played to scores of 11, 15 or 21 points with players rotating sides at six, eight or 11 total points.

Pickleball can be played indoors or outdoors and is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players, according to the USA Pickleball Association. In addition, the game has developed a passionate following due to its friendly and social nature, as well as its multi-generational appeal.

The year 2022 marks the 57th anniversary of pickleball. It was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum. The children of these three dads were bored with their usual summertime activities, leading to the inception of pickleball.

Despite the name, no pickles are used in the sport. Accounts of how the game came to have that name vary, according to the USA Pickleball Association.

According to Pritchard’s wife Joan, she started calling the game pickleball because “the combination of different sports reminded me of the pickle boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats.” However, according to McCallum, the game was named after the Pritchards’ dog Pickles who would chase the ball and run off with it. According to McCallum, “The Pritchards had a dog named Pickles, and you’re having fun at a party, right? So anyways, what the hell, let’s just call it pickleball.”

Both accounts could be true, according to the USA Pickleball Association. In the early years, no official name was assigned to the game. Additionally, a year or two after the game was in-

vented, the Pritchards purchased a cocker spaniel and named it Pickles.

As the game became more fleshed out, the need for an official name arose. Regardless of the legitimate origin, the name “pickleball” was chosen.

To allow Bayonne locals the chance to face off against each other in pickleball, the city has stepped in to serve residents. New pickleball courts were unveiled in August of this year, replacing the southern tennis court area at Thomas DiDomenico16th Street Park.

Our Recreation Division and the Department of Public Works and Parks are always looking for new recreational opportunities for Bayonne,” Mayor James Davis said at the time. “In response to the growing popularity of pickleball, they have provided this new opportunity for Bayonne residents.”

Those southern tennis courts were converted to pickleball courts when the city looked to add hard-surface volleyball courts to the park. There are volleyball courts at Dennis Collins Park, but they have sand floors.

The pickleball courts measure 20 feet by 44 feet, the same size as a badminton court. The court includes a net, which is

WINTER 2022/23 ~ BLP• 17
‘Dill-ing’ with the proliferation of Pickleball

3 feet high, and can accommodate singles or doubles games.

“These are the city’s first-ever pickleball courts, as well as our first-ever hard-surface volleyball courts,” Davis said at the time. “We are excited to see our residents enjoying these beautiful facilities.”

Following their inception, the Division of Recreation began offering lessons with scheduled times on the court. Lessons were offered twice per week on Tuesdays and Thursdays over a four-week period.

Lessons began on Tuesday, Aug. 23, with eight participants in each session. Sessions included 6 to 7 p.m. for beginners; 7 to 8 p.m. for beginners; and 8 to 9 p.m. for intermediate and advanced players.

The Division of Recreation provided participants with T-shirts and the use of the Division’s paddles and balls. The lessons are available only to Bayonne residents, and have paused for the winter but will return for the spring.

A certified instructor leads the lessons. Register online at register.capturepoint. com/CityofBayonne.

“Bayonne is happy to participate in the growing pickleball movement,” Davis concluded at the time. He thanked Director of the Department of Public Works

More pickleball courts in the brine

Pickleball joins a variety of sports played in Bayonne, including baseball, basketball, cricket, football, rugby, soccer, tennis and volleyball. The city continues looking for new recreational opportunities as it continues renovating numerous parks and playgrounds around Bayonne.

“The City of Bayonne enjoys providing recreational programs to our residents. Under the outstanding leadership of Pete Amadeo, our Recreation Division is always looking to find new

sports and other activities that our residents enjoy,” Davis recently told BLP. “In the past year, we have provided a new pickleball facility on the lower level of DiDomenico-16th Street Park. Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the United States. We are proud that Bayonne is providing the community with an opportunity to play this exciting game.”

Meanwhile, the demand for the sport in the city continues to grow, and even Hudson County has stepped in to provide more courts in the city. The county finished installing more pickleball courts in Stephen Gregg Hudson County Park in Bayonne on Nov. 10.

Residents eager to find other nearby places to play pickleball can do so at The sport is governed by USA Pickleball Association, which was formed in 2005 to promote pickleball. For more information, go to — BLP

18 • BLP ~ WINTER 2022/23
Tom Cotter and Superintendent of Recreation Pete Amadeo for their efforts on the project.
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Culinary Camp

Thebest ravioli I’ve ever had in Bayonne didn’t come from one of our many Italian restaurants. They were made, from scratch, by my 10-year-old when she was enrolled in the Bayonne Department of Recreation’s culinary camp last summer.

“The kids mixed it, rolled it out, and cut it by hand,” says the camp instructor Diego Arellano. He says I should consider myself lucky that I got to try some. “At the end of the day, when they get to taste and eat their finished product, they’re really proud. They really enjoy it. When we made meatballs, each kid got maybe 10 meatballs and a good portion of pasta, but I’ve had kids eat the whole thing.”

Arellano teaches Culinary at Bayonne High School as well. He says that his campers, who are ages 9-13, are easier to teach than some of his seniors. “I think I have more fun with them,” Arellano says. “They listen well. They are more receptive than some of the older kids. Some of the 17- or 18-yearolds don’t want to do dishes. Part of culinary is you have to clean as you go along.”

Hands On

Arellano makes the cooking process easier for smaller chefs by putting propane burners on tabletops, so they’re easier to reach. The kids work in groups to create dishes like empanadas, cheddar biscuits and pizza from scratch.

“When we made pizza from scratch, it was really cool because they mixed the dough by hand. They didn’t use a

mixer. It’s not a big amount of dough, so it’s pretty easy to do, but they get a little workout with their arms. They learn to use their hands,” Arellano says. “While the dough is resting, we make the sauce from scratch. We’ll cook it for about 45 minutes, and by the time it’s done, the pizza dough is ready to be stretched, and they stretched it by hand. They put the sauce on it, and the cheese on it, and they love it.”

The kids do some baking as well. In the summer, they made chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies. During the current fall session, they will try creating cupcakes.

“I like to mix it up with a bit of baking along with the savory stuff to keep them interested,” Arellano says.

More Sessions

While parents have given a lot of feedback about how delicious the food is and how happy they are to have help in the kitchen at home, Arellano says the thing that he hears the most is that the camp should have more sessions. “When it opens up, it fills up really quickly, so everyone is saying that we should add more classes,” Arellano says.

Supervisor of Recreation Pete Amadeo says that more sessions will be available next summer. “Culinary will be coming back,” Amadeo says. “It’s an incredible program. Our instructor Diego is just phenomenal. He’s very hands on. He’s energetic and enthusiastic about the program, and it makes it that much more exciting for the kids.”

Amadeo plans to include camps that feature other vocations that are available at Bayonne High School, like carpentry.

20 • BLP ~ WINTER 2022/23
WINTER 2022/23 ~ BLP• 21
Diego Arellano

“We’re always looking to start new programs and offer new opportunities.

Other Vocations

For recreation, we do a lot of sports, but we also understand that not every child is an athlete. We want to be able to offer different opportunities for them. I thought of doing something along the lines of baking but then I thought let’s take it one step further and see if we can actually do cooking,” Amadeo says that partnering with Arellano at Bayonne High School was ideal. “This way, when these kids get to high school, they’re ahead of the game and may have a desire to go into culinary if the interest is there.”

“The goal is that maybe I will see them again in this program when they’re older,” Arellano agrees. “If they have a passion for cooking, there are a lot of opportunities.” — BLP

22 • BLP ~ WINTER 2022/23 851 KennedyBlvd. (at33rdSt.) Bayonne, NJ07002 (201)436-5500 EMAIL: KevinStapleton Manager –NJlic.#5009 NM-00460823

Current Location Circa 1953)

Migliaccio Funeral Home & Cremation Services at 851

Kennedy Boulevard is a small local business that has been operating in Bayonne for more than a century. Currently under the management of Kevin Stapleton, his wife Hermineh and their Co-Director Michael Bruzzio, the business has remained in the family for all those years.

The business was founded as Migliaccio Funeral Home in 1919 by Calabrian immigrants, husband and wife Ferdinand and Filomena Migliaccio who were also Kevin’s great-grandparents. They originally opened the business out of a storefront apartment at 20th Street and Avenue C in Bayonne.

Celebrated 100 Years in 2019

Migliaccio Funeral Home & Cremation Services

A staple in the community for over 100 years

“We operated from a storefront for a long time, because that’s where funeral homes were at the time,” Kevin said.

However, shortly after opening the business, tragedy struck. Ferdinand was hit by a bus and faced life-threatening injuries.

“He got hit by a bus practically right after they started the business,” Kevin said. “But he didn’t die. He was comatose for a while, and Filomena was taking care of him and taking care of the business.”

While it was a tough world for female business owners during that time period, Filomena persisted. Kevin said this was because she not only ran the business but cared for her wounded husband Ferdinand.

“Back then, if it was a woman running a business, she wouldn’t have gotten any respect,” Kevin said. “She

actually wouldn’t have been able to do it. But because she was taking care of her ailing husband, she was given the respect of a man by the men in the community.”

Ferdinand died in 1921, but the business was kept alive by the strength of Filomena. That was not an easy task for a woman during that time as Kevin noted, but she kept things going.

William takes over from Filomena

The business was eventually handed over to Ferdinand and Filomena’s young son William Migliaccio, Kevin’s grandfather. They also had another daughter Rose.

“They had two kids, Bill and his sister Rose,” Kevin said. “She was not suited for the funeral business, but he

24 • BLP ~ WINTER 2022/23
21st and Boulevard Location
WINTER 2022/23 ~ BLP• 25
William Migliaccio Filomena Migliaccio 35th Street Location in 1952
William Migliaccio Current Location Circa
Flyer for Migliaccio’s Circa 1961 1912
Ferdinand Migliaccio

wanted to do it from a young age and went to school for that. He took over and he was working it with my greatgrandmother.”

William and his wife Mildred moved the funeral home to a new storefront location at 21st Street and Kennedy Boulevard, then known as Hudson County Boulevard. The funeral home eventually outgrew that location.

The funeral home briefly moved to a house on West 35rd Street. However, in 1953, along with their only child and Kevin’s mother Carol Ann, William and Mildred moved the business to its current location at 33rd Street and Kennedy Boulevard.

“Bill ran the business with my grandmother, Millie,” Kevin said. “She didn’t have a license, she just had a great personality. So she ran the business with my grandfather until he passed and then she was here as a figurehead.”

The business continued to grow, but then in 1968 at the age of 56, William passed away. Shortly after William’s death, Filomena passed away too. Once again, the women in the family stepped up.

Mildred Migliaccio’s dynamic personality continued to fuel the business alongside a temporary manager. That was, until their daughter, now Carol Ann Stapleton, finished her licensing and became the new manager in 1976.

“Back when my great-grandfather founded it, there was no regulatory board or anything,” Kevin said. “Funeral directors were actually furniture makers. They were the ones who made caskets. That’s how the business evolved. Furniture makers would become the funeral directors, and that’s what my great-grandfather was at the time. By the time my grandfather passed away in the ‘60s, you had to be a licensed funeral director. You had to have a license to maintain the business per a state requirement. So for the next couple of years, we would hire a manager as my mother went back to college and got her license so we were able to keep it in the family.”

While raising three children, Kevin, Peter Jr. and Tricia, Carol Ann continued to grow and define the business for

26 • BLP ~ WINTER 2022/23
A female Migliaccio to the rescue, again
Kevin Stapleton Mildred Migliaccio Carol Ann Stapleton Peter Stapleton Mildred, Kevin, and Carol Michael Bruzzio

the next 40 years. She was first assisted by her husband at the time and later by Peter, who was licensed in 2000. Mildred passed away in 2002 and Rose in 2009.

“My mother took over basically a few years after my grandfather died,” Kevin said. “She ran it with my dad at the time until they divorced and he left and she ran it then with my brother for quite a few years.”

Exceeding a 100-year milestone in Bayonne

However, eventually her son Kevin would take over the business in 2014. Now he, his wife Hermineh and CoDirector Michael continue the family’s long tradition.

“My mom stepped down and I came back to Bayonne in 2014,” Kevin said. “I had been doing something else for that 30 years prior.”

In 2019, the now renamed Migliaccio Funeral Home & Cremation Services celebrated the milestone of serving the community for 100 years. As of November of 2022, the business is 103 years old.

Kevin is proud to carry the torch of the now century-old Bayonne business. He said that Migliaccio Funeral Home is one of the few funeral homes in the city still open after around 100 years.

“It’s cool, you know, there’s very few local businesses that have been around that long,” Kevin said. “If you look in Bayonne, most of the businesses that have that longevity are funeral homes. I think it’s just the nature of the business. People just went where they went and that’s how it evolved.”

According to Kevin, there is even a funeral home open next door to Migliaccio Funeral Home. He said this is because there used to be different funeral homes for different ethnic groups at the time.

“Back when my grandfather bought this in the ‘50s, the Irish people went to the Irish, the Italians went to the Italians, and the Polish went to the Polish,” Kevin said. “That’s really all that was constituting the makeup of Bayonne at the time. Obviously, that’s changed, but I think it’s a very loyalistic business, or at least it was.”

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from page 27

Kevin keeps the funeral home alive now

Kevin grew up in Bayonne, attending the former Marist High School. After that, he went to college in Colorado.

“After college, I planned professional parties for two years,” Kevin said. “After that, I was an actor for 27 years.”

From planning parties professionally, to acting, Kevin had an array of other jobs before running the funeral home. But he knew what to do from when he used to work in the business when he was younger.

“I did this when I was in high school,” Kevin said. “That’s how I made my extra money. I worked with my mom and dad. When I was going to high school, I would work here at the funeral home. My grandmother lived upstairs, where I’m currently living, so I grew up over here. If I wanted to get my bicycle, it was always kept at the funeral home even though we lived across the street. So I was always over there and surrounded by the business.”

Living in the funeral home, Kevin’s grandparents kept the upstairs where they lived open to those visiting. Always being around his grandparents and the funeral home, he said that further exposed him to the industry.

“People would go down to visit a wake service then pop upstairs for coffee and cannolis,” Kevin said.

However, Kevin wasn’t able to just take over the business even though he had past experience. He had to go back to college to get a license, too.

“I had to go to mortuary college to get my license to be able to do this,” Kevin said. “I had already gone to college to get a degree, so it only made my mortuary schooling another year and a half.”

Passing on the Tradition

According to Kevin, it is an intensive process. He compared it to studying to go into a medical field of sorts.

“You have to learn the whole circulatory system,” Kevin said. “It’s

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a medical field, except that if you make a mistake you’re not going to kill anybody.”

Now Kevin and his wife Hermineh live above the funeral home, taking on the task that Kevin’s parents, grandparents and great-grandparents did before him. They are assisted by CoDirector Michael and their new intern since March, David.

When it comes to passing on the tradition to another generation, Kevin said he is not forcing his children to learn the business. If they want to, they can, but it’s not mandatory, much like how his own parents approached the situation with him.

“I would never inflict anything upon them,” Kevin said. “My parents said that if I didn’t want to go into this, it was fine. I know when I was growing up, I didn’t. But I did learn the business from being around here and trying to make some extra money as a teenager. And now, here I am.” —

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PADDLE the Peninsula

For the fifth year since its inception, “Paddle the Peninsula” has been a splashing success on Saturday, September 24. Residents enjoyed the day kayaking on the Newark Bay from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the bay that borders Bayonne’s eastern shoreline.

While there may be some preconceived notions about the body of water, particularly about its cleanliness and the safety, there is more than meets the eye, or nose. In fact, there are an array of fun things that residents can do on the water, kayaking being one of them.

According to Alicia Losonczy, Land Use Administrator but also a coorganizer of “Paddle the Peninsula,” the event is all about getting people to get in the water. She hopes to change the perception that many may have of Newark Bay, noting that it offers a number of safe recreational opportunities.

Prior to the event, residents have to register with the city. This is because the city rents the kayaks for participants. However, those seeking to kayak can also bring their own kayaks if they have them.

“We needed to make sure that we had enough kayaks to accommodate everyone who wanted to participate,” Losonczy said.

For safety reasons, kayakers must be at least 12 years of age. Participants who are 12 to 17 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.

After registering, participants can choose to

Kayaking fun on Newark Bay, right in Bayonne’s Backyard

participate from one of two locations. The event offers options for both beginners and advanced kayakers.

According to Losonczy, pushing off at Rutkowski Park, the more experienced kayakers took part in a float down the Newark Bay from the park to 16th Street Park.

At the kayak launch at 16th Street Park, less-experienced kayakers could take part in float-around sessions in between Robbins Reef and the 16th Street Park Boat Dock.

There were three floataround sessions lasting 45 minutes each. The periods began at 12:30 p.m., repeating at 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

It was a fun and festive day on the eastern Bayonne waterfront, with eager resi-

30 • BLP ~ WINTER 2022/23

dents dipping their paddles in the cold-but-not-thatcold water before winter fully arrives. It is one of the many gems of events hosted in conjunction with the Division of Recreation.


Kayakers can venture out onto Newark Bay by themselves or with a friend. Losonczy said: “In addition to the single kayaks, we offer tandem kayaks where two people can go in together. So if you’ve had someone who hasn’t kayaked before and is apprehensive about going out into Newark Bay because they think it might be a high-traffic area, the channel is busy, and it’s intimidating versus going somewhere down the shore or in a lake, tandem allows two participants to go together. That also makes for a more fun event as well.”

To ensure safety for all participants, the Bayonne Fire Department and the New Jersey State Police

typically have vessels in Newark Bay during the event. McCabe Ambulance also usually has a unit on shore as a precaution.

The goal of the event was to activate the waters of the Newark Bay as a recreation space. “Paddle the Peninsula” seeks to look at the space in a different light, which she said is now aided by the new kayak launch thanks to Consulting City Engineer Andrew Raichle and Director of the Department of Public Works Tom Cotter.

“The idea that I had five years ago when I started working on the mayor’s special events programs was that we are a peninsula, however, our waterways are underutilized,” Losonczy said. “This was a way to

bring some of our residents out to the water.”

After five years of promoting the event, “Paddle the Peninsula” continues to see good turnout. Suffice to say, the event will continue in the future, with plans for a local kayak club.

“We hope so,” Losonczy said. “We hope to also have a kayak club, whether it would be a private club or connected to the Department of Recreation. We don’t know about what it will be yet. But as someone who kayaks, I think it would be a welcome addition to the community.”


In addition to the club, Losonczy said she hopes to

WINTER 2022/23 ~ BLP• 31

bring another kayak event into fruition in the future: a mayor’s race. While she couldn’t speak on it in her role, with the increase in kayak events, the possibility for more kayak launches in the city also arises.

“As long as I’m allowed, I will continue this kayak event,” Losonczy said. “I also spoke with the mayor about this, I would love to see a mayor’s race one day where we can have other community members. Maybe we start in another municipality and finish in Bayonne and a trophy given to the winner. I could see something like that down the line.”

The reception to “Paddle the Peninsula,” the only kayak event in existence in the city thus far, has been

overwhelmingly positive. Some residents who are very enthusiastic about kayaking, such as the Bayonne Nature Club’s Mike Ruscigno, even dress up for the occasion donning pirate garbs before paddling away.

City officials come out each year to support the event. In recent years, members of the City Council have even gotten in the kayaks and paddled the water themselves.

Losonczy said she was happy the event returned to some of its former glory this year. The COVID-19 pandemic saw the event downsize since 2020, but this year was another step back toward normalcy.

“COVID-19 held us back a little bit because of the social distancing requirement,” Losonczy said. However, the event was still held that year, albeit with precautions to avoid the spread of the virus.

Of this year’s festivities, she added: “However, we came back and we had a good turnout this year. I’m thankful for that.”


In the future, the barbecue that typically accompanied the event pre-COVID-19 may be reintroduced. She hopes to continue the community-oriented vibe of the annual event on Newark Bay.

“When we first started this, there was also a picnic component or barbecue component to it,” Losonczy said. “That was enjoyable and I’m hoping that next year we can bring that back to the event.”

With dreams of ramping up “Paddle the Peninsula” to its full former glory, Losonczy hopes to continue to change opinions about recreation along Bayonne’s

32 • BLP ~ WINTER 2022/23


“The event has fostered more participation with the water for our residents,” Losonczy said. “I’m glad that we have it for that purpose, because that was the intention behind it when we set out to do this.”

Mayor James Davis echoed Losonczy that the event aims to allow residents to utilize the bodies of water around Bayonne. He said that the event has become a staple in addition to the other recreation opportunities offered by the city throughout the year.

Contact Michelle at


for vendor
from 11-3pm 30
Drive West, Jersey City, NJ 07310
Newark Bay shoreline. She hopes that residents can see that there are plenty of opportunities on the waterways that surround the city on three sides.
“For five years now, the ‘Paddle the Peninsula’ event has given numerous residents the opportunity to enjoy getting out into the waters of Newark Bay,” the mayor said. “As a waterfront community, we need to take advantage of the recreational potential offered by the bodies of water around Bayonne. ‘Paddle the Peninsula’ has become a very popular addition to Bayonne’s annual assortment of great activities.”

Who I am... PAINTING


Amanda Hernandez paints a woman’s face half obscured by abstract shapes.

“I try to be totally present and to not really think about what is happening on the paper,” she explains. “A lot of artists sketch it out, but I just start painting on the canvas. That’s the way I usually operate; start painting and see what happens.”

For Hernandez, painting is like a form of self-care.

“Once I had my son, who is six years old now, I started diving into myself a little bit more spiritually, and in that time, I started painting again. It’s something I would do for myself as a form of my own therapy,” Hernandez says.

Hernandez is a selftrained artist with a background working in mental health. “I worked in Bayonne Medical Center on the psychiatric unit for four years,” she says, adding that her work leading groups inspired her as an artist.

“What I found is that when people hear someone else’s story and when it

34 • BLP ~ WINTER 2022/23
Amanda Hernandez

resonates and has a common thread with their own, they don’t feel alone. That’s the power of group. So I thought, ‘If I experience something while I’m drawing, I’m going to jot it down and put it in the caption so that if somebody resonates with it, they won’t feel alone.”

Hernandez shares her artwork on Instagram under the name @a.wear__. The name is a play on her first initial, and that she started out by selling wearable art in the form of earrings. Plus, she wanted to build awareness about mental health. “It’s @a.wear__ like aware,” she

explains. She says that she still will occasionally create a limited amount of jewelry, but she’s concentrating more on painting with the hope of making a body of work for a future gallery show.

The faces that show up repeatedly in Hernandez’s work look a bit like her.

“I don’t think it’s a self-portrait necessarily,” Hernandez says. “A lot of times when I paint, I’ll meditate, and I’ll be like, ‘God, just guide my hands and let thIem go where ever they’re meant to go.’

I found that whenever I was doing that, I would make half of a face that looks tribal and feminine most of the time. I think it has to do with my upbringing coming from a single-parent household. My mom was that strong Latina mom who got everything done and made sure we were always OK. She would always say, ‘I’m Taíno.’ They’re the indigenous group from Puerto Rico. They were like what the Native Americans are to North America; they are to Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. She would always say we have it in our blood.”

Hernandez says that she never gave it much thought or researched Taíno culture until she began making art. She was surprised to learn that a lot of details that she painted were connected to her roots.

“When I started painting, I started putting the little red dots under the eyes, and it was like the mask of the tribe. I didn’t know that they wore a red mask. It felt like the ancestors were speaking through me,” Hernandez explains. “I started following pages on Instagram that educate people on the Taíno Indian. I started to feel like maybe there needs to be representation of this group. They say even in textbooks that they are extinct, but there are groups that are all throughout the Caribbean that are living Taíno. I just saw this was something that was always coming out when I was painting. They say that our ancestors live in our DNA. I felt like my ancestors were saying I should show who I am, show who we are, and show that women are strong in our culture. The Taíno culture had women chiefs leading the group.”

Sharing her story along with her artwork has helped Hernandez grow her community as well. She says, “I found that this has been the thing that has connected me with people, with women, with mothers who are in a state of becoming. A state of, ‘I’m a mom, so I have to dedicate my time here, and I work, so I have to dedicate my time here, but I also have this creative part of me that is almost overwhelming.”

WINTER 2022/23 ~ BLP• 35


Vasantha M. Perera greets me at the new location of his restaurant, Andrew’s Healthy Food. The space, which is at 342 Broadway, is an upgrade from the former location at Broadway and West 33rd Street, which was known as Andrew’s Cafe.

My favorite part is the spacious outdoor seating area that he calls the tranquility garden. It’s peaceful and pretty.

“Our menu includes gluten-free, non-GMO, organic, vegan and non-vegan food. In families, sometimes each family member has a different diet. We cater to everyone under one roof, and everything is a healthy preparation,” Perera says as he shows me around the new space, which includes an event space and an indoor dining room.

A Restaurant of His Own

Perera expanded his menu along with the square footage. The eightpage menu boasts foods from around the globe.

This is inspired by Perera’s culinary career, which has taken him all over Europe, North and South America. He got his start in his home country of Sri Lanka and then worked his way up the ranks to corporate executive chef in Saudi Arabia, he says. He went on to work in Russia and Dubai. He has worked for world leaders, including Vladimir Putin and Bill Clinton.

“I traveled a lot. I’ve been all over the world,” Perera says. When he became tired of his traveling schedule, he decided to open up a restaurant of his own.

New Location

“I thought I would have to go to New York, but I fell in love with Bayonne,” he says. When a small space became available, he went to take a look. “I saw the place and decided immediately. This is the place.”

He says that the restaurant was well received by the local community and also grew a following of people who were looking for healthy options because of specialized diets. Now, many of these customers have come to visit the new location.

Vasantha M. Perera

“I have clients who come from all over the tri-state area. People like it and say it’s worth it to travel,” he says. “People from here say that it’s something different.”

Perera’s sons, Cavan and Andrew, whom the restaurant is named after, work alongside their dad. His older son Cavan is the general manager. “He’s studying business administration and food and beverage,” Perera says. His younger son, Andrew, helps in the kitchen. “He does all of the accounting, too. He just graduated in accounting.”

Healthy and Flavorful

I was happy to see that my favorite menu items are still available at the new location. When I think of Andrew’s, I think of soups, and I’ve never had one that I didn’t absolutely love.

“We have vegan, plantbased soups with no cream, no butter. It’s healthy, but it’s delicious when you eat it,” Perera explains. “It’s the season for soup.”

Andrew’s Healthy Food offers a lot of soup options. There are non-vegan ones like chicken vegetable and

clam chowders, but I love the vegan ones because they are surprisingly rich and creamy. Today, I try the butternut squash soup.

“Butternut squash is a very popular soup. We get organic butternut squash and bake it. There’s Vidalia onion, shallot and celery. We cook it with turmeric, which is a healthy spice. It adds a lot of beta-carotene. It’s good for the eyes. It’s holistically very healthy. We’re not using any salt. We use celery seed. It gives a mineral flavor, a salt flavor,” Perera says.

I am shocked to learn that there’s no salt because there’s no lack of flavor. The soup is delicious and slightly sweet from the squash.

Next, I have Sri Lankanstyle chicken curry.

“That’s an Indian-style chicken. My grandmother used to make it. I said one day I’m going to put this on my menu,” Perera says.

“We make the spice blend from scratch. It’s healthy and holistically valuable. Twenty-one different spices are roasted and ground into a powder. We combine all of this with a little touch of tomato and fresh vegetables. Many places use the curry powder that’s available to buy online.”

WINTER 2022/23 ~ BLP• 37
Andrew Perera

On to Dessert

The chicken is flavorful and cooked to perfection. The spices don’t overwhelm the dish.

“It’s not spicy, it just has flavor,” Perera says.

The generous portion of meat and veggies are served over jasmine rice.

Perera wouldn’t let us leave without trying dessert.

Not Your Ordinary Cake

“We have various cakes. We make red velvet cake with beet juice. We extract it, reduce it, we don’t have to put sugar in it because it’s so sweet. There’s no gluten because of brown rice flour and corn flour,” he says. They have many types of cookies, muffins and even a gelato bar with house-made vegan gelatos

churned from plant-based milks.

I tried the tuxedo cake.

“That’s the chocolate mousse cake made of chocolate and cacao. The white layer is made of ground sunflower and cashew milk. It’s three-layer. It’s gluten free and vegan,” Perera says.

I would never guess that the cake is vegan and gluten-free. The texture is fluffy and light, which I think is hard to achieve without the usual baking ingredients. I doubt that anyone would pick it out as vegan and gluten-free if they did a taste test next to a “regular” slice of cake.

It’s the perfect finish of a delicious meal at Andrew’s Healthy Food.

I ask Perera how he does it. “Just years of experience,” he says. “Just doing it again and again.” — BLP

38 • BLP ~ WINTER 2022/23

Hanging Out With Jackie Weimmer

“Then, I try to dedicate as much time as I can to our seniors, because I feel like oftentimes they’re a forgotten generation. In the senior buildings, where I go as often as I can to hand out food donations and to be a part of everyday interaction there, they’re so appreciative. They look for someone to increase the little joys in their lives. It just doesn’t happen with enough regularity.”

This gave her the idea to bring the two populations together.

“I would love to create a senior-tosenior partnership. I would love to see our high school seniors partner with our senior citizens, maybe for two hours a week to teach them some increased technology. They can help them to access Facebook to meet with their loved ones or get some pictures that way,” she says that she hopes to get her civic association up and running in the new year.

The folks at San Vito Restaurant all seem to know Jackie Weimmer, but not because she’s their Second Ward Councilwoman.

“Everyone here still says, ‘Hi, Aunt Jackie,’” she says. “I’ve known this family for almost 40 years. I mean, it’s almost like Cheers, you walk in, and everybody knows you. We still have that closeness here, that wonderful sense of belonging.”

Jackie doesn’t just mean San Vito’s. She means Bayonne, especially the Second Ward. She says that same feeling carries on down the block at other favorite spots like El Aguila Dorada Mexican Restaurant, Kuhl’s Tavern and Pompei Pizza. “The owner grew up working there part-time as a kid through school and now owns it. These are the stories that you love to hear. They’re comfort pieces of knowledge. When you’re born and raised here, it gives you a sense of pride. They’re all still here, and so am I.”

Now, Jackie lives in a house three doors down from the home she grew up in. But she did live outside of town for part of her life.

“I married, and I moved out of Bayonne.” She says that even during that time away, she frequently found herself coming back to town to see old friends or to visit her family. “I would come back on Sundays to go to Mass with my mother and teach Sunday school at Saint Michael’s Church.”

When she later divorced, she came back to Bayonne for good. “When it became that the decision was solely mine about where I would go and continue to raise my daughter, I decided that I would come home, and I did,” Jackie says.

While Jackie is old-school Bayonne, she’s new to her political role.

“I’m sort of in my infancy in this role,” Jackie explains, adding that she has a career in trust and estate planning for handicapped and disabled people.

“I’m trying to see how I can best help the public. I feel like there are so many endeavors out there that really could use some dedicated time and assistance. The city council is five people and you can’t change the world tomorrow. It’s a slow process and I struggle with that.”

Jackie says that she focuses on the young and the old. “I try to dedicate as much time as I can to young people, and to be a positive influence in our schools and things of that nature,” she explains.

When it’s time to place our order, Jackie has some suggestions. “I have to share with you that I live most of my life on a diet. I’m forever watching what I eat.” She says that she usually goes for the broccoli oreganatto and grilled chicken, but sometimes she gets something a bit more indulgent if someone splits the dish with her. “My life partner Mark, who is an absolutely wonderful man who supports me and puts up with all of the crazy things I get us into, we will oftentimes share a cold antipasto and a hot antipasto, and that’s more than enough food for me. Just add a glass of wine, and I’m all set.”

That sounds great to me.

“You can dine here, you can live here,” Jackie says, adding that the Second Ward has plenty of options when it comes to both. “The Second Ward has a good number of our new developing buildings. These are luxury apartments. One is nicer than the next. What I really like is that the city seems to be making the request, and the developers are really considerate of public space. They’re putting up buildings and creating really nice sitting areas that become public space for everybody to enjoy.”

And it’s easy to see why new residents would choose Bayonne.

“If you’re a professional and you’re commuting to New York City, to Jersey City, or to Hoboken, the light rail is here. It’s all accessible. It’s convenient,” but Weimmer says that Bayonne has more going for it than simply location.

“Bayonne is growing. We’re evolving, but there’s still a rich sense of community here. That’s what makes Bayonne special.” — BLP

WINTER 2022/23 ~ BLP• 39

Get around easy in the #CityOnTheRise Bayonne is Beacon of Transportation Opportunities

Bayonne is an insular peninsula largely isolated from the rest of Hudson County, separated by water with the Kill Van Kull and separated on land by state highway Route 440 and the New Jersey Turnpike. However, there are many ways to get in, out, and around the city.

You don’t have to look far to take advantage of these transportation opportunities. The most basic method of getting around is walking. Wide sidewalks on many streets in the city make this easy, with a new pedestrian bridge crossing the light rail at 25th Street under construction replacing the old one, and plans for more over Route 440 to further connect the East Side to the rest of Bayonne. While there isn’t any bike infrastructure, the sidewalks are big enough to ride on on most streets and sharing the roads with drivers isn’t the worst experience.

Automobile access to and fro

For motorists, there are plenty of options to drive into Bayonne. The first and most famous connection is the Bayonne Bridge, which connects New Jersey to Staten Island, New York. The bridge itself was raised recently to accommodate more marine traffic through the Kill Van Kull.

The next most prominent is Route 440, which divides the city as it tears through the East Side. It runs north from the Bayonne Bridge to until the New Jersey Turnpike. Then it veers northwestward as it enters Jersey City and runs along the West Side of that city.

The New Jersey Turnpike enters Bayonne from Newark, crossing the Newark Bay Bridge, better known as the

Vincent R. Casciano Memorial Bridge. The 14A exit from the Turnpike into Bayonne was redone in recent years, and leads to a roundabout that connects with Avenue E. There are also additional roads after the exit that allow direct access to Route 440 and other areas of Bayonne.

In addition to those major connections, there is the county road that runs through Bayonne and into Jersey City known as Kennedy Boulevard. In addition, of the major avenues slicing up and down the city, Avenue C eventually becomes Ocean Avenue, and Broadway becomes Garfield Avenue. In addition, there are a number of local road connections in between the other streets.

Taxi service is still in the city in the form of Archie’s Taxi. However, the service overall is trending downward with the rise of ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft, which can easily and fairly cheaply be ordered in Bayonne.

Bus stops on nearly every corner

On nearly every main avenue in Bayonne, there is NJ Transit bus service. The 81 runs on Broadway and Avenue C to and from Bayonne and Jersey City, with stops at the Grove Street PATH Station. The 10 runs on Kennedy Boulevard, also between Bayonne and Jersey City, stopping in Journal Square with connections available to other bus lines.

The 119 runs on Kennedy from Bayonne to Journal Square in Jersey City and through the Heights other parts of Hudson County including Union City and Weehawken before entering the Lincoln Tunnel and ending in New York City at Port Authority Bus Terminal at 8th Avenue in Times Square. And the 120 runs from Bayonne to downtown New York City, traversing through

40 • BLP ~ WINTER 2022/23
Hoboken Photo by NJ Transit Photo by Dan Israel Photo by Dan Israel

Jersey City via the New Jersey Turnpike and ending at Greenwich Street and Battery Place in Battery Park. The S89 runs from Staten Island along Route 440 to the 34th Street Light Rail Station, and there is also the privately run Broadway Bus service along Broadway throughout the city.

Walk a few blocks in Bayonne and it is easy to see the infrastructure, a bus stop on nearly every corner of the main thoroughfares running northeast southwest through the city. Residents can walk to a stop, hop on, pay a small fare, and be on their way to whatever their destination is.

Light Rail Stations dot Avenue E

Perhaps one of the most useful transportation connections in Bayonne is the Hudson Bergen Light Rail. There are four stops in the city at 8th Street, 22nd Street, 34th Street and 45th Street.

Officials have discussed extending the light rail to First Street using an old Conrail line, but it is unlikely to happen any time soon. However, that rail line ends at the tip of Bayonne near the Bayonne Bridge, directly in front of where the planned 1888 Studios will be constructed.

With that, it is undeniable the likely of the expansion has increased, even if it is still in the far off future. And talks of expanding the light rail to Newark increase the viability of funding for such a project in Bayonne too. Regardless, right now a small fare secures a light rail ticket and ride on a line that runs through Jersey City and into Hoboken. From Hoboken, transfers are easy to trains to New York City, the rest of the state, and beyond.

The ten stations in Jersey City running northeasternly from Bayonne include: Danforth Avenue, Richard Street, Liberty State Park, Jersey Av-

enue, Marin Boulevard, Essex Street, Exchange Place, Harborside, Harsimus Cove, and Pavonia/Newport. At the Liberty State Park Light Rail Station, commuters can get on a transfer to the West Side of Jersey City, with three stations at: Garfield Avenue, MLK, Jr. Drive, and West Side Avenue.

That line also runs to Hoboken after joining the line at Liberty State Park. From Hoboken Light Rail Station, the light rail has two more stops in the city at 2nd Street and 9th Street. Then it runs through Weehawken, with two stops located at Lincoln Harbor and Port Imperial.

Following that, the light rail turns northwesternly into Union City with a stop at Bergenline Avenue. Although called the Hudson -Bergen Light Rail, the line ends in Hudson County in North Bergen at the Tonnelle Avenue stop.

Whatever its name may be, it is a transit arterial through the county, especially Bayonne. Its mere existence has in part allowed special zones near the light rail that has influenced its redevelopment boom, with luxury lofts lining light rail stations.

Cruises and ferries setting sail

Another transportation method present in Bayonne is the Cape Liberty Cruise Port. Royal Caribbean operates cruises from the city to destinations in the Caribbean Sea and other tropical getaways.

The cruise port is located at the tip of a smaller peninsula, home to the former Military Ocean Terminal at Bayonne (MOTBY), that juts out of the main peninsula that is Bayonne. The port is all the way at the end of that peninsula on the Hudson River.

Also on that peninsula, although on the other side and further west across

WINTER 2022/23 ~ BLP• 41
Photo by Dan Israel Photo by Dan Israel Photo by Dan Israel Photo by Dan Israel RK Neyman/ Photo by NJ Transit

from the South Cove Commons shopping center, the city is planning to open ferry service. In 2020, the city entered into a lease agreement with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for the land on which it would construct the ferry stop.

The idea is to have ferry service to Manhattan, something which the city had in the past throughout its history. However, there have been hangs up with indistinct negotiations with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, meaning service has been pushed back to beginning in 2023, officials said.

Nevertheless, when it does open, the ferry service operated by SeaStreak to downtown New York City will inevitably become an invaluable asset to the community home to many commuters. And the county is also exploring bringing ferry service to the area with potential stops in Bayonne, one possibly on Newark Bay near the planned film studio, but things are still very much in the planning and community input stages.

Beyond conventional transportation?

In addition to all those more conventional means of transportation, there have also been some ideas floated for innovative, or outlandish to some,

methods of getting around. One is the proposed aerial gondola.

The gondola, akin to a nicer ski lift, would run along the Bayonne Bridge and connect the city further with Staten Island. The idea would mean the lift would run past the bridge and along Route 440 to connect with the 8th Street Light Rail Station.

So far, the idea is nothing more than a pie-in-the-sky proposal to reduce roadway congestion. It would also potentially conflict with any plans to extend

the light rail to First Street. But still, the fact that someone saw Bayonne and thought it was suitable for such a project means the city has a reputation for transit, and it is not letting that slip away.

The next time you want to experience something new yet old, different yet familiar, and historic yet up-and-coming, try to visit Bayonne. Hop in your car, on the bus, on the light rail, on a cruise ship, and maybe even one day a ferry or aerial gondola, and visit the #CityOnTheRise. — BLP

42 • BLP ~ WINTER 2022/23
Gondola Rendering by Staten Island EDC Photo by Dan Israel Photo by Dan Israel Map by Hudson TMA Hoboken Photo by NJ Transit
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