By Elsie Walker
With July’s sweltering temperatures, Christmas and Santa are two of the last things on most people’s minds.
However, that’s not true for the historic village of Waterloo in Stanhope or for Netcong’s mayor, Joe Nametko, aka Santa Jersey Joe.
On July 21, from 11a.m. -5 p.m., a Christmas in July fundraiser will be put on by State Park Service staff to benefit the 19 th century restored village. Helping to set the mood, Santa Jersey Joe will be on hand to talk to children, pose for pictures, and accept letters to Santa, and weather- permitting, walk through a vendor area to greet people. The event itself is free, but there is a $5 parking fee to defray some costs.
“Waterloo Village is really a remarkable place,” said Nametko. “Unfortunately, I only just found that out a few weeks ago when [I was given] a tour of the village. Helping restore one of the few remaining buildings is a great way to give back to my community while having a good time doing so.”
When not walking around, Nametko will be located at the village’s Mule Barn, at which will be posted his hours for people to visit and take pictures. “The Mule Barn is quite amazing, including one of the largest fireplaces I have ever seen,” he said.“ I am bringing my Santa Chair for pictures at the barn.”
Given it is July and the extreme heat which started the month, people might wonder just how
Santa Jersey Joe will survive in a suit made for cold weather Nametko shared some insights and secrets: “Santa in the summer is actually a lot of fun. It allows Santa Jersey Joe to dress casually and walk around singing Christmas carols. Hawaiian shirts, red shirts and suspenders coupled with white cargo shorts or white painter pants are part of the summer look. Santa Jersey Joe has a cooling vest that allows him remain cool in the warmest weather, even when in a Santa
coat. Last year at Netcong Day, Santa was a frosty 65 degrees throughout the entire 85 degree day.”
In addition to Santa Jersey Joe, the Waterloo event includes kayaking on the canal by the village, vendors with a variety of food items, tours of the village, and a Civil War encampment by reenactors of the 2nd NJ Cavalry.
“There will be some period decorations and interpretive tours that will touch on what the holiday season would have been like for the different socioeconomic classes that lived in Waterloo,”
shared Andrea Proctor, Resource Interpretive specialist (Historian) at Waterloo. “We will be providing the kayaks and running informational tours for adults every 30 minutes.”
As for the Civil War encampment. Joseph Puccetti, a “Private” in the 2nd NJ Cavalry group, said, “There will be three or four cavalry troopers there with two or three horses. We will have a campsite set up with a picket line to tie the horses. We will mount up and ride around to talk with the visitors and interact. We are there to answer any questions people may have about the equipment, uniforms, horses, or the cavalry in general.”
In reflecting on the importance of preserving sites such as Waterloo, Proctor commented, “Historic Sites give us a window to the past,” said Proctor. “Progress is built on lessons learned from the past. Collectively, we have a responsibility to remember and acknowledge our successes and shortcomings as a community so we can continue to improve ourselves and our nation.”
Meanwhile, Santa Jersey Joe had a reminder for all: “As of today, there is only 182 days until Christmas!”
For more information on the event, call 973-347-1835.
By Elsie Walker