When I take clients around Montclair, at some point they always ask, "Which area is the best?" Of course, "best" is relative. If you're a commuter, living near one of Montclair's 7 train stations might be best. If you have small children, maybe it's living near one of the many parks. Or near Applegate Farms (now you know my favorite indulgence!). Some people want to live near one of the movie theaters, others prefer a New York City view.
But central to it all, is Midland Avenue. In fact, there's a plaque on Midland denoting the exact center of town. As spring turns quietly into summer, it always feels like Midland comes to life.
At the end of June, a truly magical tradition takes place. After receiving their diplomas, all the new high school graduates board a small fleet of school buses and are driven throughout the town. They begin their trek on Midland and little crowds of well-wishers gather on the sidewalks, banging pots and pans with old metal spoons to celebrate them. It's noisy and jubilant and a perfect way to lead into another one of my very favorite Montclair traditions - the July Fourth Parade. On that day, everyone in town flocks to Midland, lawn chairs flanking the block. There are vintage cars and marching bands, baton twirlers and Boy Scouts. The highlight, for me, is the bagpipes. Vendors sell balloons and pretzels, and if you're not sitting (or marching) you're wandering on the sidewalk, running into friends and neighbors as if you're at the world's biggest block party. It's hard to imagine another community with as much soul and revelry.
I can't really say where the "best" part of Montclair is. Only that there's nowhere I'd rather be.