Local Events

Hot and Cool – Montclair Jazz Festival Aug 13, 2016


I know I tend to go on and on about the events in Montclair – the Montclair Film Festival, Taste of Montclair, the YMCA 10K and Family Fun Run. Even the weekly Farmers Market feels more like a social happening than a produce-buying excursion. All of these popular gatherings started up since I’ve moved here. But it feels like the one that’s grown the most is the Montclair Jazz Festival.

August can feel so quiet in Montclair, with so many families off on vacation. But on the day of the Jazz Festival, people seem to come out of the woodwork.

This free event began seven years ago, an outdoor sampling of jazz performances where people tossed a blanket on the grass and soaked in some sun and some great music. Back then, 300 people showed up. Last year there were 10,000!

I am so excited to have Keller Williams sponsoring one of my all-time favorite events. We even have a tent where we’ll be giving out lemonade and cookies. (Consider yourself invited!)

I’m not sure how set in stone the schedule is, but here’s the proposed line up:

12 p.m. - 52nd Street Big Band
12:30 p.m. - Philly Soul Big Band
1:00 p.m. - Bright Moments Big Band
1:15 p.m. - Afro-Latin Big Band
1:45 p.m. - The Big Solid Sax Mob
2:15 p.m. - Jazz House Vocal Large Ensemble
2:45 p.m. - Jazz House Faculty Collective celebrates Bowie + Prince
3:45 p.m. - Michele Rosewoman + New Yor-Uba
4:45 p.m. - Dynasty Big Band featuring Louis Prima, Jr.
5:15 p.m. - Jazz House Big Band featuring Louis Prima, Jr.
6:00 p.m. - George Coleman Organ Quartet
7:15 p.m. - A Christian McBride Situation
8:30 p.m. - Dee Dee Bridgewater Quintet

Come and go. Bring a cooler. There are shuttles from parking and plenty of grass for lounging. Cool music on a hot day with a cold beer. It really doesn’t get any better.




Montclair Fireworks and Footpaths

I love fireworks.fireworks

My mother grew up in Copenhagen near the Tivoli Gardens where there are fireworks every Saturday night. It was a source of great joy to her and I think she "infected" me because, come July 4th Weekend, there's nothing I'd rather do than sit back and watch the sky explode.

When I first moved here, the town fireworks display took place at the high school football stadium. My young family could easily walk there - it was about a mile away if you drove on the streets but the walk was made easier by some of the "shortcuts" between my house and the field.

When my kids were young, we referred to these shortcuts as "secret pathways," but with their own street markers, they are anything but. These little paved footways were created so that people walking to the bus or train didn't have to go all the way around a long block to reach the bus line. They allow you to "cut through," as if you were going through someone's backyard to take a more direct route to the bus line. There are about half a dozen of these little corridors throughout Montclair, and if you live in the middle of one of the longer avenues, they can cut your walking time in half.

We used to call them secret pathways because we often discovered them accidentally, while on a walk. This has been one of my great joys - discovering the quiet amenities of a town that upholds a commitment to walkability.

The fireworks have moved from the high school stadium to the stadium at Montclair State University - too far for us to walk, although there are always non-car options. That show always takes place on July 4th. There's another show each year at Brookdale Park - this year it's on Friday, July 1st. I, of course, go to both, because I can't get enough fireworks. If you're like that too, here's a list of all the surrounding fireworks shows this weekend.

And if you want a tour of Secret Pathways, or to talk about any of the other ways Montclair rules as a walkable suburb, please call me. It would be my pleasure to walk you through them! 973.809.5277



May in Montclair 2016!


I'm practically breathless, and it's not from the pollen. May in Montclair is in full bloom and there is truly not enough time in my days for it all.

"May in Montclair" is not simply a town during the spring. "May in Montclair" became a "thing," in 1979, when the town first distributed a calendar of events listing everything to see and do. From the Presby Iris Gardens to the blossoming Van Vleck estate, it's a month-long celebration of one of the most beautiful places in New Jersey during one of its most beautiful moments in time.

Do I already sound like a commercial? It may get worse.

As I write this, we're in the middle of the Montclair Film Festival, a 10-day extravaganza of screenings, discussions and parties that has grown so much since its inception in 2012,  it's hard to believe it hasn't been part of May in Montclair forever.

There are parent workshops, lectures, lunches, garden tours, walking tours, dance performances, choral performances, cooking demos, book sales, art talks and art walks. And garden events galore!

Also, over the next two weekends, the high school is staging Pippen on Friday and Saturday nights. Aside from being a wonderful show, this is a great way for parents to get a sense of the amazing arts education available in the district.

There's a bike tour and dining alfresco and Saturday night music on Church Street - and even though that kind of thing happens even in non-May months - well, it just feels more special in May.

If you're considering buying here, please spend some of your May in Montclair. It's like seeing our town in its most flattering outfit and having its best possible hair day. I know you know what I'm talking about. Dig in!

Veterans Day in Montclair

It's almost impossible for me not to think of Edgemont Park on Veteran's Day.Edgemont_Park

I used to live across the street from the park - one that I consider among the most beautiful in the area - and every year, I could watch people from all over town walking along the footpath from every direction, assembling at the island bridge to take part in the service commemorating our veterans.

The park itself is about 20 acres of mostly field space, with two ball fields, picnic tables and an all-access playground that was put in not long ago. There's an incredible climbing tree - you could hide up there in the summer - and an enormous stocked pond that people can ice skate on in the winter if it gets cold enough.

When I first moved here, Edgemont Park was nice enough, but it has truly become the go-to park in town, a hub of activity all year long. This is the place where kids learn to ride bikes, where neighborhood schools take recess, and, most poignantly, where residents come to honor those who have served.

The statue built on the pond's island was originally designed as a WWI memorial, but has come to memorialize all those who have served in all the wars since. It is one of the landmarks of Montclair and it truly anchors us on this day. I love how this one spot in town - a spot that draws people from all over the community - is a reminder that our real community is much bigger than our neighborhood or our town; it's our nation.

Thank you to all the veterans who have made such a brave commitment to that community. You have made life better for all of us.

Drop or Shop: Montclair's Hillside Swap This Weekend



Sometimes, the biggest obstacle in getting your house ready for sale is figuring out how to get rid of your clutter. This is often not an easy task, but it can be a fascinating one.

I wouldn't have believed this a few years ago, but as someone who has recently down-sized, I now know you can sell almost anything. The Montclair area has a Sell/Swap page on Facebook and between that and Craig's List, I have sold (I kid you not) used garbage cans, a banged up file cabinet, and an old radiator. One time a guy bought a used fan from me and paid me in eggs from his backyard chickens!

Of course, you can always take advantage of Bulk Waste Day and put your oversized belongings curbside once a month. But I'd often rather relegate something that still may have a useful life to someplace other than a landfill. In addition to the Facebook Swap and the local Freecycle listings, and apps like Wallapop and Letgo, Montclair has an in-person swap a few times each year at Hillside School. You can drop off clothing, bikes, books, sports equipment, or baby equipment on a Friday afternoon and come Saturday morning, every item is displayed and free for the taking to whomever shows up to "shop." This "tradition" began seven or eight years ago and is one of my all-time favorite means of decluttering. And, coincidentally, there's a Hillside Swap planned for this weekend!

If you have things to get rid of, you can drop them at the Hillside School gym, 54 Orange Rd, Montclair on Friday, October 16 from 4:00 - 6:30 p.m. Items are available to take on Saturday, October 17, from 9:00 - 11:00 a.m. You don't need to "drop" in order to "shop," and vice versa. I try to make this a regular event in my decluttering arsenal. It helps keep my environment more manageable, and will (I hope) help my neighbors in need as well.

Joe Walsh Plays Montclair High School!

joe walshAt the risk of sounding like a 14-year-old, OMG! Joe Walsh is playing at the high school this weekend!

I can't even say I am a huge Eagles fan, but still: OMG!

OMG because he's playing in the high school auditorium, a lovely but relatively small theater space, especially for Joe Walsh.

And OMG because, as a former Montclair High School student, Walsh is performing to benefit the high school - proceeds will be funding library renovations and helping to create a state-of-the-art media center.

But mostly OMG because I can walk to it! How many concerts have I been able to walk to since leaving the city?

Actually, there's plenty of live music here in Montclair and, depending what part of town you live in, much of it walkable. From big-ticket shows at the Wellmont Theater to folk artists in small, intimate settings from Outpost in the Burbs; from avant-garde performances at Montclair State University to Montclair's home grown music scene that pops up you-never-know-where.

Not a day goes by that I don't feel grateful to have found myself a suburban town that has the vibrancy (and walkability) of a city - a town in which my dancing shoes and my walking shoes are sometimes one in the same. It makes me so happy I want to do a little jig.

Bike to the Montclair Jazz Festival

Jazz FestThis Saturday (August 15) is the Montclair Jazz Festival, an all-day music-fest that takes place at Nishuane Park. This rain-or-shine event includes performances by Jose James, The Paquito D'Rivera Quintet and The Christian McBride Big Band as well as many other ensembles and big bands.

People show up at noon with blankets and lawn chairs and spend a little or a lot of time taking in one of Montclair's most valuable offerings - a long-standing, unwavering dedication to bringing live music into the community.

No tickets required, you can just show up - and I just found out something that made my own heart sing: the community has arranged (through support from Diamond Cycle Bikes and Bike/Walk Montclair) extensive secure bike parking for the event - "Free Bike Valet!" (I know, hauling lawn chairs on a bike is not the easiest thing to do, but for those of us who are happy to sit on a towel and soak up a day of music, it's a great addition!)

If you're around on Saturday, I urge you to check it out. It runs noon to 9pm and truly is one of the many events that sets Montclair apart as a satellite cultural mecca.

Montclair Farmers' Market

Saturdays are busy days for me, so sometimes I just plan to stop by for a pickle. The pickle vendor sells pickles on a stick (the half-sours are legend!) and it just feels good to walk through the market and see everyone abuzz.

But I can't evIMG_6313er get away with just a pickle. The blueberries were only $2.50/pint this    week, and the tomatoes were literally calling my name. "Lina," they screamed. "Bring us home! We need to be with you and your basil and maybe a little mozzarella. A chunk of that bread wouldn't hurt either."

Who among us can resist the cry of a ripe red tomato? So through the market I trekked, collecting tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, eggplant, garlic, fresh eggs, a loaf of bread, some sunflowers, peaches, blueberries and, yes, a pickle.

The Montclair Farmers' Market is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine. At this time of year it transforms the whole Walnut Street business area into a food-lover's street fair, with artisan food trucks and lots of breakfast goodies from Walnut Street eateries - Montclair Bread Co., La Salbuen, The Red Eye Café, Gina's Bakery and newcomer-that's-bound-to-be-a-hot-spot, The Corner. In the winter, there's a scaled bIMG_6317ack version, and far less al fresco dining, but it's wonderful to have farm fresh produce available all year long.

And because Montclair is so full of foodies, the Farmers' Market has even expanded to include a Tuesday venue on South Park Street from 1-7 p.m. from June through November.

The Saturday market is centrally located, so many people walk there or bike there. Sometimes there's live music or a pet adoption event. If we're looking at houses together on a Saturday, try to stop over. You'll walk away with a real taste of what Montclair is like. (Get it?)

Police Ticket Bikers in Montclair!

I guess it goes without saying that a walkable town is also a bikeable town, but there are things a town can do to make biking easier and safer, and Montclair keeps doing them. Community group Bike and Wbike picalk Montclair recently worked to install new bike racks at the train stations and throughout shopping districts, and this summer they have been packed with bikes.

Bike and Walk Montclair also advocated for a Complete Streets policy in town, which makes sure that roadway design can safely accommodate cyclists. They run safety workshops, a Safe Routes to School program and just generally make biking in town better and more fun. In September, they will host Montclair's first Open Streets Event, closing down specific areas to car traffic so people can bike, skate, (and dance!) in the streets.

Recently, I discovered this awesome thing: Over six weeks of this summer (July 13 through August 31), kids who get "caught" wearing a helmet while biking or skateboarding around town may receive a "ticket" from the Montclair Police Department! The officer pulls them over and gives them a ticket that entitles them to a free tasty treat from one of four participating local eateries. The tickets are given out at random, whenever an officer sees a kid on his beat exhibiting safety practices. Tickets are redeemable at Tiny Elephant, Montclair Bread Company, Cakeaholic Obsession and Little Daisy Bake Shop. (Yum!!!) The whole thing is the brainchild of Tracey Diamond, a local designer who liked the idea of a reward program for kids who travel safely. Even kids in bike seats!

Sadly, I cannot pass for a kid anymore, which is too bad because, between you and me, anyplace that calls itself Cakeaholic Obsession has my name written all over it!

Axes to Grind/Knives to Sharpen - Montclair Watercooler Offers It All

Montclair Watercooler Digest Number 8046 arrived in my email on Monday at 7:49PM. It contained questions and answers about water bill rates and a question about ease of parking at a nearby commuter park and ride. Also, someone found a pair of glasses on Church Street, someone else was looking for a good employment agency to hire temps, and various people needed a professional carpet cleaner, a contractor to build a deck, and a line dance teacher. Someone was selliOil and Waterng a car. Someone else lost a cat. Then found it.

I also learned about a free film, a Coffee and Conversation, and more than I ever could imagine about solar panel installation.

The Montclair Watercooler is a Yahoo group that started 15 years ago and now has almost 3,700 members and a Facebook Page. To me, this online group functions like a big backyard barbeque where people drift in and out of conversations about every imaginable topic, gathering information and sharing what they know. Sometimes the conversations get heated, sometimes they warm your heart. I remember once after a terrible storm, a member of the group offered his Wet-Vac to anyone that needed to pump their basement. People created an online queue and passed vacuum along, one to another. There's also a member who occasionally offers to sharpen people's kitchen knives - for free. That spirit abounds here, making the Watercooler both invaluable and beloved -- and another one of the things that makes this community so special.