Wayne December 2022

Serving Wayne, Oakland, Wyckoff, Franklin Lakes

Wayne’s Michael Turco Believes in Magic

By Jillian Risberg

   He’s a Master of Illusion and a really nice guy — who sprinkles a little bit of magic wherever he goes.
Wayne native Michael Turco has been taking to stages and wowing audiences for years with his special brand of wizardry on the Masters of Illusion Live! Touring magic show.
Turco does close-up magic and his specialty (grand illusions), even voodoo-like magic -– proving with each live performance that he is truly a master of his craft.
“I’ve been a fan of Masters since Harry Blackstone and working on the show/tour is a dream come true,” says the magician. “We feature top illusionists in an edge-of-your-seat performance.”
If only it was as easy as magically making the Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Turco was diagnosed with in 2016 disappear.  It came out of nowhere and threw him for a loop.
According to the magician, it was seriously rough.
The cancer of the blood and bone marrow can progress rapidly. Causes may include exposure to earlier radiation therapy, having a sibling with a history of leukemia — but in most cases there is no rhyme or reason for the occurrence.
He received grueling chemotherapy treatments.
“It killed everything,” Turco says it wiped out his immune system and for a year he lived in a plastic bubble. “It was very rough.”
After speaking at a cancer conference about his own plight, he encouraged others to take control of their health.

   Turco pursued that dream nonstop and by seven he announced to his mom that he wanted to be a magician, frequenting shows of a roster of talent, from Mark Kalin to Rocco Silano, David Copperfield and yes, Mr. Blackstone.
“The more I watched, I was hooked,” the magician says that’s when he knew he found his calling, performing card tricks and stage shows, all before high school.
Summers were spent catching every magic show there and the illusionist immersed himself in the craft, talking to magicians, frequenting magic shops, learning all he could of the tricks and illusions. He was intrigued by that world.
For Turco, his magical journey all started just steps from the Atlantic City strip, (his parents had a summer house in Brigantine)
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when he was only five-years-old.
“It’s an extraordinary year,” the magician says. “The biggest news of all is I hit my five-year remission date. So I can truly say I am in remission and kicked cancer’s butt.” He couldn’t be more grateful.
During Blood Cancer Awareness Month in October he was named “Honored Hero” for this year’s  Light the Night Verona Walk that was all about HOPE.
“‘Masters of Illusion’ waited for me to heal and return,” says Turco, who called them thoughtful and caring through the whole ordeal.
In 2017 his Las Vegas and Atlantic City shows were sidelined.
The magician gave the leukemia everything he’s got and became a staunch advocate, raising awareness and funds for the disease, more than $14,000 on behalf of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk.

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   He later headlined his own show for nine months at Planet Hollywood Casino and Resort in Las Vegas.
That’s when “Masters of Illusion” came calling. He has been delighting audiences on the CW since 2014.
It was in 2011 when we were first introduced to the illusionist and awed by his artistry on America’s Got Talent.
On January 17, 2021, he marked 10 years of sawing people in half.
“Thanks Team Turco,” the magician says he will never stop appreciating the endless love and support of his fans, who magically lift him up.
The next time you catch his gig the illusionist may levitate you!
For more information on Michael, visit www.turcomagic.com.

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“It’s Time to Embrace Yourself and Lovingly Belong in Lisa Roe’s “Welcome to the Neighborhood”

By Jillian Risberg

When Lisa Roe decided to write her first book, she wanted it to be a true and honest mother-daughter love story, including the unconditional devotion we all have for our children — while revealing the bumps in the road, mistakes we make even when we have the best intentions.
And she wanted to explore a story about fitting in. “It’s special and terrifying,” Roe says of sharing Welcome to the Neighborhood with the public. “It’s been wonderful to hear from readers how they connected with different characters, related to the themes and plot, and laughed in all the right places.”
Her second book is with the publisher now and the author is waiting for a publication date.
The author thought her readers would be middle-aged suburban moms, but she hears from a lot of women in their twenties, retired folks (many of whom were teachers and remember having students like Harri, the daughter in the book) and even high school students.
“I guess the theme of learning to stand up for yourself in difficult circumstances is a universal one,” says Roe.
According to the author; it made all those years of working home alone in her PJ bottoms “just me and my laptop” — worth it.
“If my readers get lost in the story, relate to it in any way and snort-laugh through their nose once in a while I’m happy,” says Roe.
It’s scary to put your work out there. A writer pours their heart onto the page (even when penning humor) and as an introvert, the former creative director is not at her most comfortable shouting to the world, “Look what I did.”
Having moved around a lot, both growing up and as an adult the author often found herself in pre-established social circles trying to figure out whether or not she fit in (spoiler alert, often she didn’t).
“And because I write mom-com, meant to follow a women’s emotional journey (the definition of women’s fiction) as well as entertain — I wanted to highlight the circus that can be 21st century parenting; in an upscale, East Coast, power driven neighborhood,” says Roe. “After all, who doesn’t love a story about badly behaving PTA moms?”
The first scene that came to her takes place in a hot tub early in the book (don’t worry, not a spoiler). The author knew she wanted to
write a story where a woman moves into a new town and meets a variety of ‘interesting neighbors

“I had heard about a man who would show up in his next-door neighbor’s hot tub whenever he felt like a soak,” the former copywriter says she thought it would be the debut of a great character (as it turns out, he is one of her favorites in the book).
The predominant theme in Welcome to the Neighborhood is having the strength to stand up for yourself (and loved ones) against peer pressure, bullying and the status quo. It is also a love story about new beginnings, second chances and finding your peeps.
Roe can relate — after years as a New York City advertising copywriter/creative director, she accepted the tougher job of stay-at-home mom and turned to writing fiction.
“Mostly to entertain my kids, but then to tell my own stories,” says the author.
Welcome to the Neighborhood took eighteen months to write and revise until it was good enough to query agents. Once the former copywriter signed with her agency; six months of back and forth revisions followed. The book sold to her publisher in three months. And then it was another eighteen months before it hit the shelves.
“When I work on a new book, I write almost every day until my brain is fried and I have to go watch

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mindless TV,” says Roe. “Publishing is not for the impatient.”
When it comes to what most shapes her writing, the mom-com writer offers the (Nora) Ephron
saying, “Everything is copy” meaning anything that happens to you is fair game to write about.
For the former creative director, that would be raising her kids (sorry guys)… and everything she
sees, hears and reads.
“I am inspired by anyone who persists, no matter the endeavor,” shares Roe, whose favorite adage (her kids often hear this) is ‘fall down nine times, get up ten.’
For more information, visit www.lisaroe.com.

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Oakland Fathers’ Club Has a History of Doing Good for the Community

By Steve Sears

The mission of the Oakland Fathers’ Club is and always has been simple: raise money to help the youths of Oakland.
“When we say ‘help the youths,’ it was originally created to help the recreation department fund some different things with uniforms, and just extra things that the town budget didn’t cover way back when,” says Lou Renshaw, a former Vice-President and current Treasurer of the Oakland Fathers’ Club, which is in its 57th year. “It was started to help the recreation department, and it kind of morphed into something much bigger.”
What initially started as strictly a support group for the youths within Oakland borders has extended beyond the community boundaries. With the merging of the Oakland, Franklin Lakes, and Wyckoff school districts, kids in all three towns are supported by the club. “We will definitely look to help those kids as well, even though they don’t live in Oakland,” says Renshaw. “We are Oakland dads, but would we say ‘No’ to a Franklin Lakes dad? Absolutely not.” The Oakland Fathers’ Club has about 65 members, but about 20 are active members. “As kids get older, the dads move on to different things; they’re visiting their kids in colleges and things of that nature. And then, as new kids come into the program, some dads come into the Fathers’ Club. We’re always doing a membership drive, trying to get new dads.”
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The group gives back quite a few ways. Among the list is awarding three $1,000 college scholarships to deserving Indian Hills or Ramapo High school graduating seniors; funding the Indian Hills girl’s softball team’s annual spring training trip to Florida; donating money towards the high school soccer team’s annual calendar; purchasing an ad for the high school Drama Club’s Playbill program for their theater performances; and support of local scout troops. “Any kind of organization that involves children, we’re open to give to,” says Renshaw. “Our biggest thing is it has to benefit the kids. All the monies we give out has to support the youths of Oakland, Franklin Lakes, and Wyckoff – anyone in the surrounding area.”
The Oakland Fathers’ Club has three major fundraisers every year. The first is the Oakland Town Carnival, where club members prepare and sell their popular “Famous Cheesesteaks”; the second is the group’s annual golf outing, which has been held for 28 years; and then a family barbeque, which takes place at either the Elks Club or Knights of Columbus, where the monies generated from ticket sales go towards the annual scholarship program for high schoolers.

A few years ago, the Oakland Fathers’ Club recognized a need for a special fundraiser for the holidays, and created was a special “Pictures with Santa” event. “We used to only give $1,000, and we would buy $25 gift certificates so the parents could make sure that there’s a gift under the tree for their children,” says Renshaw. “Right now, we’re able to do much more – a lot more.” He explains the process. “We have one of our members who does his house up very nicely every year for Christmas, and Santa comes and kids and families can come and take pictures. It’s a suggested donation of $25, and all the proceeds from that goes towards families that have been identified in our community that need help during the holiday season. That’s something we really wanted to get into, and we were into it a little bit through Oakland Cares, and the Mothers’ Club of Oakland was really a big part in identifying these families that needed help. Last year, we raised $11,000 just from ‘Pictures with Santa’ to give to these families. It’s really just Oakland helping Oakland, everybody feels good doing it, and the town rallies around it. The police officers and fire department come, and we shut down the street so it’s a safer environment. It’s a walk through, and it’s really something else.” This year’s event was on November 26 and December 3.
All Oakland, Franklin Lakes, and Wyckoff dads are welcome to visit with and learn more about the Oakland Fathers’ Club, which meets every third Monday of the month in the evening at 8 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall at 7 Court House Place in Oakland.  For more information, visit www.oaklandofc.org.


Wayne League of Women Voters Honors Estelle Perry

Members of the Wayne League of Women Voters dedicated a bench at Laurelwood Arboretum to Estelle and Norman Perry. The bench was donated by their family in honor of Estelle’s 90th birthday and her many achievements, as well as those of her late husband Norman.

Estelle is a 50-plus year member of the League of Women Voters, She was elected president of the Wayne League in 1967 and from that time was actively involved in Wayne politics. In 1971, she was the first woman to be elected to the Wayne Town Council. She served two terms from 1972 to 1979 and was elected council president in 1976. In 1980, Estelle was named Wayne Woman of the Year.

In 1978, Estelle was hired as Director of Public Information for the Center for UN Reform Education, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Wayne.  She later became the center’s Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) representative to the United Nations, a position she continues to hold today as a member of the center’s Board.

Estelle was appointed to the Wayne Environmental Commission in 1994 and reappointed to additional terms through 2004, when she chose to retire. She was also instrumental in the establishment of the Passaic County Agricultural Board

On March 27, 2012, Estelle was named Woman of the Year by the Board of Chosen Freeholders of Passaic County in recognition her many contributions and exemplary service.

Norman Perry was married to Estelle for 37 years before his death from cancer at the age of 62. He was a chemical engineer who worked on medical and other FDA-approved uses of vinyl. He
served as president of the Palisades Section of the Society of Plastic Engineers, Inc. and as a committeeman for the Democratic party in Wayne. He also actively encouraged Estelle’s career as a councilwoman.

WP Professor Darlene Russell Named Editor of ProudFlesh: The New Afrikan Journal of Culture, Politics, & Consciousness

William Paterson University Professor of Educational Leadership Darlene Russell has been selected to serve as editor of an academic journal that recognizes, celebrates, and propagates the work of scholars of the African diaspora around the globe, ProudFlesh: The New Afrikan Journal of Culture, Politics, & Consciousness.
During her editorship, Russell says, she will aspire to work with Black scholars from different institutions, disciplines, and time zones to best facilitate the mission of the journal. She also looks forward to promoting the journal at professional conferences and associations and through liaisons at different institutions.
“As a child, my affinity for and knowledge of Africa was ignited by my father. My father was my first history teacher elucidating Africa’s greatness and pulchritude while eviscerating the world’s atrocious narrative of it. From this foundation, my interest in and understanding of Africa grew personally and professionally,” Russell explains, of how “natural” it was for her to accept the invitation to serve as editor of ProudFlesh, which falls right into her pedagogical approaches and research agenda, which is focused on critical race theory, culturally responsive teaching, and Black feminist epistemologies.
Russell is also the founder of the Nurturing Culturally Responsive Equity Teachers (NCRET) Project, which focuses on implementing a culturally responsive and anti-racist curriculum in secondary classrooms. She and NCRET scholars have presented at national conferences in over 15 states. She is also the founder of My Sisters’ Nest, a mentoring group for female college students from underrepresented groups.
A Fulbright Scholar, Russell was named Educator of the Year in 2020 by the New Jersey Council of Teachers of English.
“My self-imposed obligation as an African-American woman is to leverage the scholarship of Black women in higher education, which will remain my fundamental focus,” Russell says of her new role with ProudFlesh. “It is the intellect of and research on Black women that continues to cultivate the soil of higher education that folks in the academy and throughout the globe benefit from.”

Big Red Santa of Kinnelon Brings Happiness to All Ages
By Steve Sears

For Bob Smith, it may have started in 2009, but you can tell during discussion with him that he’s had the Santa Claus goodness within him all along.
Just ask Emily.
Although in his words he was terrified when he first dressed up as the Big Red Santa and the event was a success, it was best defined by little Emily, who the next day visited the event organizer and thanked them for bringing a real Santa Claus. “And it was because I was nice and I had a real beard,” Smith says. It mattered not to Emily that the red Santa suit Smith wore was older, that his beard was short, or whether it was sprinkled with baby powder. What mattered was Smith’s kindness to her, which Emily returned the following year, she showing up with a gift for the Big Red Santa.

“I think 90% of Santas find their way into the role by someone asking them to fill in for somebody that can’t make it,” Smith says. “I think 100% of the people who get that question are kind of reluctant to do that because they’ve never done it before.”

Smith wasn’t reluctant when first asked thirteen years ago. He filled the role, but was concerned his voice wouldn’t be correct or he’d say something wrong. The request came from a group called Rainbows for All Children, a nationwide group which meets with and supports children who had a parent pass away during the year and are grieving. Smith recalls the instructions he received at that time.  ‘They said, ‘We’ve got all the toys, we’ve got the bag. Just show up, everything’s tagged, call up the kids, take the picture, and off you go.’” The group had available a Santa Claus suit from K-Mart, and Smith took care of the rest. “I had this very short George Clooney beard,” he says. “It really wasn’t quite right, and I peppered it with some baby powder, because I was not going to wear a previously used polyester beard. Then I threw on a white turtleneck to cover the lack of beard.”

After his first appearance, Smith returned the suit and thought nothing more about dressing up as Santa Claus – until the following September, when he was asked by Rainbows for All Children to do it again. This time, not only was the child called up, but Smith also asked the parent who had lost a spouse to head forward as well. Smith explains. “I would say, ‘What would you like for Christmas?’ and ‘How have you been?’ I realized it’s about the family.”

During his first eight years as Santa Claus, Smith would do just a gig or two per year. In addition to the Rainbows event, he would get calls to do Breakfast with Santa get-togethers. As he started to get more requests for appearances, he then began to buttress his Santa skills. “For the first eight years, I had no idea that there were Santa Claus organizations,” Smith says. “There are Santa Claus groups that will help you hone your skills in terms that if you’re going to see 200 kids in a day, one or two of them are going to be on the autism spectrum. How do you handle that? How do you deal with sensitivity in terms of questions? If somebody asks, ‘Can you bring grandma back?’ There’s that part of it, the part in the chair, which we call ‘Chair Time.’ And then there’s also the business side of it.”

For the record, Smith now dons a custom-made Santa Claus suit, and his appearances aren’t limited just to the Christmas season. During this past summer, he had three Christmas in July gigs. Also, it took about six or seven years to convince Mrs. Claus (Smith’s wife, Pam) to make appearances with him. “The Knights of Columbus, every time they saw her, they said, ‘You’re coming to the Breakfast with Santa, too?’ and she would say, ‘No, no, no.’ I just bought her the dress, and once she had the dress, she was okay with it, and said it was a lot of fun. And Mrs. Claus is an integral part of the Santa experience.”
For more information about the Big Red Santa, visit www.bigredsanta.com.

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A Remembrance of the Real Santa of Main Street


By Richard Mabey Jr.


 There are people who touch our hearts and lives, to whom we will not truly appreciate their kindness till years and years have passed. Such is the case of my remembrance of the Real Santa Claus of Main Street.


It was a long standing tradition, of the Mabey clan, to spend Christmas Day at the old Mabey Homestead. From the day I was born till I was six years old, my parents and I lived in Clifton. Every Christmas Day, we would sojourn westward on Route 46 to the little hamlet of Lincoln Park, where my great grandmother, Dora Mabey lived.


I remember we would arrive at the old Mabey Homestead, early in the morning. I was a shy and sensitive child, so the abounding number of relatives that would congregate at the old farmhouse, would seem all so overwhelming to me.


I don’t know at what age I had any degree of conscious remembrance of the dear, kind, elderly man who was the Real Santa of Main Street. I remember him fondly as a very kind man with a gentle spirit. He would knock on the door of the old Mabey Homestead, sometime during the late morning on Christmas Day, all dressed in his Santa Claus gear.
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My dad was the fifth of nine children, so on Christmas Day the Mabey Homestead abounded with children, my many cousins. Santa would arrive with a big burlap bag strung over his shoulder, with a gift for each and every one of my cousins, my sister and myself. I remember the gifts were not expensive at all. Some were actually handmade toys. While some had a clue of having been passed down from another child, who had outgrown the little toy car or doll.


My mom and dad, my sister Patti and I moved into the old Mabey Homestead in the early Autumn of 1959, shortly after Great Grandma Mabey went Home to be with the Lord. I was six years old that Christmas. I remember wondering if the real Santa would still be knocking on the door on Christmas Day. To my happy surprise, the real Santa did come by to visit us, with presents for my sister and I.


I never learned the name of the Real Santa of Main Street. My grandfather, Watson Mabey, one time told me that he thought that he lived in this little house at the end of Clover Lane. When I was about 10 years old, I walked down Clover Lane, stood at the front yard of that little home and wanted to knock on the front door and see if that was in fact, the home of the real Santa. Sadly and regretfully, I didn’t get the courage to knock on the door. That little home was torn down many years ago, to make room for a larger, modern home.

My Aunt Vi once told me that she thought that the Real Santa of Main Street lived in a little home in Towaco, just past the Lincoln Park border. I don’t think anybody really knew who this kind hearted soul was. It’s one of the greatest mysteries of my childhood

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The Christmas of 1961, when I was eight years old and in the third grade, was the last time that the Real Santa of Main Street ever came to visit us on Christmas Day. I once asked my father if he knew who this gentleman was. He endorsed Grandpa Mabey’s theory.In deep fondness, I remember the Real Santa of Main Street. I think about him from time to time. My intuition tells me that he was not a wealthy man at all. I think he was actually quite poor. Somehow and someway, he accumulated toys for children in the neighborhood. Most of the toys he gave to us, were handmade. He was truly the real Santa Claus of my childhood.

Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at richardmabeyjr@hotmail.com.

A New Year’s Day StoryBy Richard Mabey Jr.

 Can love be limited? Is it possible that God’s blessings can reach beyond our limited human understanding of time and space? Are the flames of sibling love, between two sisters, able to transition to a world beyond this world that we humanly know? Is it possible, that love is the greatest force in the universe?

On November 11, 2019, my mom, Janet Kemmerer Mabey, had heart surgery to replace her Aortic Valve. After the surgery, my sister Patti and I were elated that Mom still had a few years left upon this earth, before it would be her time to be called Home to be with the Lord. But by the first of December, it became painfully obvious that Mom’s time upon this earth, was coming to a close.

It was in early December of 2019 that Mom’s general practitioner, told my sister and I that it was time to set up for Hospice home visitations. It was a deeply sad time.

My mother was great stickler for cleanliness. But, I confess that with the influx of nurses and home care professionals, it was tough to keep Mom’s bedroom as neat as a pin. In December, when there were no Hospice personnel at our home, I would read Mom excerpts from the Holy Bible. Mom would then gently fall asleep. But even as Mom would sleep, ever so peacefully, I would continue to read the Bible to Mom.

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I remember that it was in the second week of December, that I was reading Mom her Bible, Mom fell asleep. I continued to read the Bible to her. Mom suddenly awoke and begin talking about her plans to have a New Year’s Day party. It was a long standing tradition of the old Mabey Homestead, as far back as I can remember, that New Year’s Day was a time of open house and home-cooked food for the old family farmhouse.

When Mom awoke, she spoke as if we were still living at the old Mabey Homestead, rather than the reality of now living in our Florida home. And, one of the things Mom spoke about that afternoon, was that she was looking forward to seeing her sister Alice on New Year’s Day. Mom began telling me what needed to be done to prepare for the big New Year’s Party.

As Mom would tell me that I needed to clean all the baseboards, vacuum the rugs, Mom would look me in the eyes and say, “oh Richard, I can’t wait to see my sister Alice again.” I remember this went on for a good half-hour, then Mom drifted off to peaceful sleep.

I stayed at Mom’s side. Even though Mom was sleeping, I read her some passages from the Book of John. About an hour later, Mom woke up again and told me immense details of the New Year’s Day Party that we had just had. Mom recalled the memory of the dream that she just had, complete with the most tiny details of the splendid party that she had just been a part of.

Then, Mom looked at me and simply said, “Richard, it was so good to see my sister Alice again. It was all just so good.” Then Mom closed her eyes and once again drifted off to sleep.

On the night of the twenty-third of December of 2019, my beloved mother went Home to be with the Lord. It was a sad moment in time. Looking back now, three years later, I still remember how real Mom’s dream was to her.

Could it be that on some level it was all so very real? That on some Heavenly plain, Mom did see her sister Alice Kemmerer Knothe in spirit, that was as real as anything on this physical plain.

I am not a theologian by profession. I do know this though. God is a source of immense love and compassion. The rest is left to the beliefs of my dear readers.Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at richardmabeyjr@hotmail.com.


Hometown: East Hanover: NJ Starz: Mary Jane Marcasiano

By Steve Sears
Mary Jane Marcasiano sums up her life and career in two sentences. “I’ve had a lot of journeys and had the chance also to travel and have that impact my work and my life. I feel very fortunate.”

Marcasiano, a fashion and costume designer, grew up in East Hanover, New Jersey and attended Cobblestone (now Central) Elementary School, East Hanover Middle School, and finally Hanover Park High School. “Back then East Hanover was still pretty rural,” Marcasiano says. “We used to actually walk on what became Route 10, and River Road was quite quiet. And where I grew up, across the street was a dairy farm; our neighbors were from one of the farming families. It had very much more of a country kind of a feeling to it, and we wound up doing a lot of those kinds of activities.” Her parents, Anna and Frank, were both born and raised in Jersey City. “They met in Jersey City, and then they moved to East Hanover and bought a very old farmhouse on River Road, and kind of lived their dream of renovating the house on their own.”

Marcasiano graduated from Hanover Park High School a year early, attended Montclair State University for two years, and then moved to New York City to attend Parsons School of Design. After graduating from Parsons in 1977, she founded her own design company. “I started making my own collection,” she says, “and I immediately got a big order from Bloomingdale’s. I was 22 going on 23. Bloomingdale’s was really the hotspot for fashion. They were very famous for all the designers they promoted and their window designs, and when I had my first window display at Bloomingdale’s, it was really, really something.” Marcasiano was part of a handful of young designers at that time who decided to do their own thing rather than work for a big company. For her it worked out. She says, “A lot of us were based in SoHo, and as a group, we got a lot of attention, a lot of press, and that put us on the map at the very early stages of our careers.”

Marcasiano herself started getting coverage in major magazines like Vogue, and won a number of fashion awards in quick succession. She credits her parents for their help and support in those early days. “I grew up in a very nurturing household, and my parents were very nurturing of my talent,” Marcasiano says. “When I did decide after graduating from Parsons that I wanted to start producing my own collection, my parents helped me. My mom came to work with me, and she was a huge part of the success of my business, as was my dad before he passed. We were really a family business with a young designer at the helm.”

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Marcasiano was introduced to the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. by New York Fashion Week founder, Ellen Lambert. “She was the grand lady of New York fashion,” Marcasiano says. “I remember she discovered me when I was just starting out and would include me in fashion shows and different things.” One day Lambert called and told Marcasiano about the Council of Fashion Designers of America, which was quite small but included some huge players on the fashion gridiron: Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Bill Blass, Donna Karen among them. Lambert told Marcasiano she wanted her to be a member, and encouraged her to also come to the group’s luncheon. “I remember this luncheon at a very fancy restaurant uptown, and I felt like the little kid that had somehow snuck into the room. But I was very taken and influenced by listening to these designers and what the organization was doing. I was very happy to be a part of that for many years.”

Marcasiano looks back at her career as a fashion designer and her focus on her current work with costume design, and explains the benefit of both. “Fashion is not a collaborative art,” she says. “It’s a pretty pictorial art that’s got its upsides and the downsides. You have to be the one to come up with it all, and then you take either all the applause or the rejection of the sales. It’s all on you, but of course your team is helping you. But working in costume, it’s much more collaborative because you’re talking to the director, you’re talking to the actors, you’re talking to the lighting designer. There’s a lot more people involved in the decision making. Sometimes I miss that autonomy, but on the other hand, there’s a lot of fun to working as a group.”

In 2007, Marcasiano founded the “Made with Love Project.” She explains its genesis and purpose. “I went to Brazil to do costumes for a dance company, and then while I was there, I met a lot of the community where the people lived, and I met a lot of the people’s mothers,” Marcasiano says. “They were all incredible craftspeople and they were doing beautiful things, and I noticed that they had a very local look to them. And I was thinking, ‘How can I help them sell their crafts internationally?’ And then I thought that I could bring some of my design ideas to them and they can produce them, and then I could sell them and use the proceeds to support local charities. That’s how the “Made with Love Project” was born, and then I expanded it to West Africa and Haiti, and right now it’s mostly involved with projects in West Africa.” Also, Marcasiano is involved in other organizations, too. She also produces and curates films in New York City for a number of organizations, including Cinema Tropical, for who she serves as Director of Strategic Partnerships, and also works with the youth theater group IMPACT Repertory Theater Performance Company in Harlem as a Director of Development.

In Spring of 2019 Marcasiano received her Masters Degree from the New York University Gallatin School of Individualized Study. “I graduated from Parsons in ‘77 and I studied art. I’ve always been a good student, but I was focused on the creative side of things. When I started getting involved with nonprofit work, I wanted to learn more about the field and I wanted to be able to bring more to what I was doing.” She applied to NYU and her thesis was based on the type of nonprofit projects that she was involved with. And heading back to school itself? “It was incredibly hard to go back into an academic situation. And because it was so hard, it was unbelievably rewarding, and in some ways it was one of the most rewarding things that I’ve done in my life.”

Marcasiano and her husband, photographer and artist, Ralph Gibson, have been together for over 40 years. “We both travel a lot for our work,” Marcasiano says, “and we try to travel together to the same places when we can. Working side by side together has been it’s great, to have both of us working creatively but in different fields.”

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Marcasiano occasionally takes a step away from her career and indulges in cooking. “Like a lot of people during the pandemic, I got into cooking,” she says. “I come from a long line of good Italian cooks, hanging out in the kitchen with my grandmother and my mother, although I didn’t do much cooking myself.” When she and Gibson were in Paris for her September birthday, both decided that she would attend the Le Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris for a couple of days and take classes. “It was unbelievable,” Marcasiano states excitedly. “Almost as much fun as getting my Master’s Degree. We were working in a professional kitchen as a team, and it’s really like it is in the movies, where you have to say, ‘Yes, Chef” and be on time, get your dish, keep it going, and I realized that I really loved it. Other than cooking at home, I don’t know what I want to do with that, but I want to go back and take more classes, and it’s something that might be part of my future.”

To learn more about Mary Jane Marcasiano and her work, visit www.maryjanemarcasiano.com.
Bucket List Travels: 3 Days of Wonder in the Rainforest


Morristown resident Paul Partridge has been building a travel bucket list for years. Now he’s diving in – near and far – and shares his adventures in this column. Text and photos by Paul Partridge

A late-night flight into Quito makes the Sunday morning drive seem earlier than it is. Highway becomes local road becomes dirt road becomes jungle path enroute to Mashpi Lodge.

Mashpi is a nature-lover’s hideaway deep in Ecuador’s Choco Forest. If you’ve ever thought about visiting a rainforest, but a two-week trek into the Amazon perhaps seems overly ambitious, Mashpi might be the ticket – especially if you favor comfort over camping… enjoy great food… like to avoid crowds (this private resort houses only 47 total guests)… and appreciate making a gentler impact on the environment.

Looking back, I’m still not sure if it was real or a mirage. Our group of four was motoring along for hours, deeper and deeper into the wilderness, and then – suddenly, there it was, like some sort of plush Brigadoon. My first thoughts: “What the…? How in the world…?” Given the location and geographical challenges, its existence seems utterly impossible.

But alas, here it is. And waiting for us at the entrance, smiling broadly, is Santiago, our naturalist guide during our three-day stay. Having the same guide is a treat, because he gets to know your group, your pace, your interests, etc., and then tailors activities accordingly. Santiago is a rainforest encyclopedia. He can spot, identify, name and wax poetic about any plant animal, insect, tree, fungus, bird, reptile, stream, or river we encounter.

A call echoes through the forest. “What kind of bird is that?” I ask.

“Actually, it’s a frog,” says Santiago.
Ok, I may be from Jersey, but to be fair, that was no ‘ribbit’ or ‘croak.’ That frog could win the national bird calling contest. Just the first of many surprises.
Staying at Mashpi feels like living in a large, fancy tree house. Floor-to-ceiling windows make you feel totally immersed in your surroundings. Right outside your window are 400 species of birds, trees, frogs, monkeys, and endemic species found nowhere else in the world.Day 1: The Incredible Glass Frog A quick lunch and we’re off into the forest, spotting Toucans, tayras, a tarantula, a giant snail, and hundreds of beautiful, exotic butterflies. Santiago informs us that the tayra is one of only three creatures on earth that thinks ahead, the other two being octopi and humans (females, mostly).

After sunset Santiago takes us on an unforgettable night walk using flashlights and headlamps. We’re stalking the rare transparent glass frog. Within 10 minutes Santiago has found one. It’s a great find, especially since glass frogs are the size of a thumbnail and blend into their environment. Santiago also points out assorted spiders, crickets, bats, and a formidable praying mantis.

A female praying mantis eats the male after mating – especially the head because they desire the brain protein. We’re told of one jungle species where the male has evolved a second brain in his chest. This way he can procreate and survive the beheading. I imagine this must confuse females on praying mantis dating sites. “Wait, didn’t I just eat you last week?”

Day 2: Cooling off in a Waterfall

The trail drops steeply from the lodge to the Laguna River below. At times we walk alongside the river, other times we wade right in (rubber boots are provided by the lodge). Down and down we go. Our reward is Magnolia Waterfall, and we’re invited to swim in its pool. This is one of those pinch-yourself moments. The staggering beauty and serenity leave a mark.

Eventually we must hike back. Note to self: walking down is easier than walking up. As we huff and puff, Santiago mentions that there’s a lunar eclipse tonight. It feels like we’re hiking up to it to see it in person.

Mashpi is home to over 30 species of hummingbirds, and in the afternoon, we see many of them at the Hummingbird Garden. Colorful, playful, and mesmerizing to watch, the hummingbirds dart and flitter all around us.

One might not expect to eat well in the middle of the rainforest. At Mashpi, every entre and appetizer is meticulously prepared. And the natural fruit juice concoctions alone are worth the trip (you had me at passion fruit lemonade).

Day 3: A Birds-eye View of the Forest

The highlight of the morning is a ride on the Sky Bike. Sky Bike is a two-person gondola that stretches 655 feet across the jungle canopy. Think of it as your average, everyday bicycle built for two – if you happen to grow up a member of the Flying Wallendas. The Sky Bike sits on a tight rope. The front person enjoys the view; the back person is the engine. Once you reach the other side, switch positions and pedal back.

At home I won’t even go on a step ladder due to severe height aversion. Somehow, this seems doable. As we pedal and backpedal over the treetops, my adrenaline is flowing and I’m shouting, “Isn’t this amazing?” My wife wants to know, “Who are you and what have you done with my husband?”

Mashpi offers another way to float in the clouds called the DragonFly. This is a one-hour ride in an open-air gondola that holds four persons and rises more than 200 feet above the ground. Jaw-dropping views, no pedaling required.

In the afternoon, a transfer returns us to Quito and to pass the time I make up some rainforest awards.

Best Insect Name: Jesus Spider (because it walks on water).

Amazing Flower Fact: There are 4,000 different varieties of orchids in the cloud forest.

Most Interesting Tree: Walking Palm. Its roots grow above ground and serve as “legs.” When the tree doesn’t get enough sunlight, it grows new roots in the direction of the sun and moves in that direction, thus “walking.” Walking palms can supposedly move up to 20 meters in one year. I found this hard to believe until I saw a walking palm wearing a Fitbit.

[Resources] Quito hotel: www.casagangotena.com/……Mashpi Lodge: www.mashpilodge.com
Transportation and Transfers: www.metropolitan-touring.com

Many pet parents do their best to ensure optimal health for their companion animals. Veterinary visits, exercise and diet play an integral role in pet health. Pet owners tend to be very selective when choosing commercial pet foods, but sometimes they’re less discerning when they offer scraps of their own food to pets.

It can be hard to resist the pleading eyes of a pet looking for a handout from the dinner table. While it is generally fine to offer a tidbit here and there, even small amounts of certain foods can cause illness or even death, and pet owners are encouraged to familiarize themselves with foods that may be hazardous to pets.

Some foods people eat can be toxic or even lethal to pets. Avocado, for example, contains persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs, according to the Gateway Animal Hospital. Birds and rodents are also sensitive to avocado poisoning.

Grapes and raisins are other seemingly healthy foods that can be harmful to pets. The toxin inside of these fruits is unknown, but grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure. Cyanide is present in the seeds/pits of plums, pears and peaches, making these fruits potentially hazardous as well.

The ASPCA lists coffee, caffeinated products and chocolate as dangerous for pets as well. These items contain substances called methylxanthines that, when ingested by companion animals, can cause vomiting, panting, hyperactivity, tremors, and seizures. Dark chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. Baking chocolate is the most toxic kind of chocolate to dogs.

Foods and products artificially sweetened by xylitol will cause insulin release in many species, and this can lead to liver failure. Keep pets away from chewing gum, candy and toothpaste.

Common herbs like onions, chives and garlic can cause gastrointestinal irritation and may lead to red blood cell damage. Cats are more susceptible than dogs to these foods, but each species can be affected negatively.

Check out Pequannock Amimals Hospital’s website click here

Dog owners have frequently offered animal bones as a treat. However, these bones may harbor bacteria that can cause gastrointestinal illnesses. Furthermore, bones can splinter while they are being chewed, potentially lodging in the esophagus or intestines of the pet.

The following are some additional human foods and beverages that should not be given to pets: alcoholic beverages, apple seeds, hops, macadamia nuts, moldy foods, mushrooms, potato leaves and stems, salt, tea, tomato leaves and stems, yeast dough and walnuts.

Dr. Matthew Krupnick is the owner of the Pequannock Animal Hospital. He grew up in Kinnelon and is happy to be home – with his wife, three cats, and two dogs – to provide quality and compassionate care for pets in the community. The Pequannock Animal Hospital is located at 591 Newark Pompton Turnpike in Pompton Plains. You can reach the hospital by calling


Lower This Year’s Tax Obligation Actions to Take Now!

As part of your planning for next year, now is the time to review funding your retirement accounts in 2023. Recent cost of living calculations means much higher contribution limits for next year. Plus the higher income phaseouts for eligibility will make many more taxpayers eligible for fully-deductible contributions. So plan now to take full advantage of this tax benefit. Here are annual contribution limits for the more popular programs:

How to use

Identify the the type(s) of retirement savings plans that you currently use.

Note the annual savings limits of the plan to adjust your savings to take full advantage of the annual contributions. Remember, a missed year is a missed opportunity that does not come back.

If you are 50 years or older, add the catch-up amount to your potential savings total.

Take note of the income limits within each plan type.

For traditional IRA’s, if your income is below the noted threshold, your taxable income is reduced by your contributions. The deductibility of your contributions is also limited if your spouse has access to a plan.

In the case of Roth IRAs, the income limits restrict who can participate in the plan.

Other ideasIf you have not already done so, also consider:

Setting up new accounts for a spouse or dependent(s)

Using this time as a chance to review the status of your retirement plan including beneficiaries

Reviewing contributions to other tax-advantaged plans like Flexible Spending Accounts (health care and dependent care) and prepaid medical savings plans like Health Savings Accounts.

Shah & Sokoloff , CPA’s,  is a year round full service CPA firm providing a wide range of Accounting and Tax services to both Small Business  and Individual Clients. We are QuickBooks Certified Pro Advisors and provide new business set up, training and support.  Our office is located at 166 Main St. Lincoln Park, NJ 07035. Our website is www.cpanewjersey.com and email is rps@cpanewjersey.com.  To contact us by phone please call 973-633-1001.
Adventure Aquarium Celebrates 30 Years of “Edutainment”
By Steve Sears

Melissa Patterson, Guest Experience and Events Manager for New Jersey’s Adventure Aquarium, coins what goes on at the facility perfectly.

“I like “edutainment”: entertainment that is educational. The entertainment and education really go hand in hand,” Patterson says. “Our main goal is always going to be to educate our visitors about the animals here and about the ocean, and why it’s important to care about these animals, care about the ocean, and to care about waterways and conservation, and caring for species, like our sea turtles and our sharks and our penguins. But, by adding that entertainment side of things into the mix, that’s how we really create those unforgettable experiences for the visitors, and that’s what keeps them engaged and keeps them excited.”

Patterson provides a brief history. “Adventure Aquarium was opened by the state as part of a plan to revitalize the Camden waterfront and drawing revenue to the city and to the area, and really revitalize western New Jersey and the Delaware River waterfront, especially on the New Jersey side. We opened officially as the New Jersey State Aquarium on February 29, 1992.” In September of 2004, the State Aquarium closed for expansion, and by the time it reopened in May 2005, it had almost doubled in size, and was renamed Adventure Aquarium. Current parent company, Herschend Family Entertainment, acquired Adventure Aquarium in November of 2007.


Since its opening, Adventure Aquarium has not only been a huge cornerstone of both Camden County and the city of Camden, but even the Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey areas as well. “We really have the support from Camden and from the community to thank for that,” Patterson says. “We would be nothing without our community, and we really pride ourselves on supporting the community and being out in Camden and trying to make a difference, and trying to have a positive impact on the residents. Because without them, what would we be?”

More than 700,000 visitors enter the doors every year. A large majority of those visitors are families with children, many of them living within 50 miles of Camden or residing in the Philadelphia area. “We really are definitely open to all ages; I think there’s really something for everyone to find here,” Patterson says. “We like to say that ‘We bring families closer together,’ and that’s whatever family means to you. Of course, there’s the traditional definition of family, but our school groups can be families, or groups of friends can be families. We have couples that have started their relationship here by going on a first date, then getting engaged here and getting married here, and then they bring their kids. It’s really, really rewarding to see our guests who come here because they’re all so different from each other. But they can all find something, for sure.” Including business and corporate professionals, who utilize Adventure Aquarium for a unique team building experience. “Our Group Sales office is very, very busy,” says Patterson. “We love our groups here; they make up a big chunk of our visitor population. It really is very varied on who comes in the door. I think a lot of people think just of children and families and schools, but we really do welcome everyone.”

One reason Adventure Aquarium is so popular is what Patterson calls “marquee” animals. “We love our sharks here,” she says. “We have the largest collection of sharks in the Northeast, and some of those sharks have been here from when we first opened. But our hippos, especially; we’re the only aquarium in the world that exhibits hippos. And something that’s really special about that exhibit is you see them underwater. When you go to zoos or safaris, you can see them in the water, but it’s not very often that you get that underwater view of them. We have two green sea turtles and a loggerhead sea turtle, and then our penguins are our next most popular exhibit. We have two different species of warm weather penguins; you can see our African penguins, and then we have our Australian little blue penguins which are the smallest species of penguins in the world.”

Adventure Aquarium is always looking to present different things, including live mermaids that have made appearances the past few years. They will return again by popular demand in 2023, and a special, still-being-discussed pumpkin themed series is planned for next autumn.

Adventure Aquarium is located at 1 Riverside Drive in Camden. Visit www.adventureaquarium.com for more information.
Prevention is Key Helps Educate Public on Substance Abuse Relief
By Elsie Walker

Substance abuse doesn’t have one face.   An abuser could be an elderly individual, a youth, or an adult struggling with life who found “relief” in a drug or alcohol.  For those who want to move from abuse to recovery, there’s help:  the non-profit organization Prevention is Key (PIK). Located in several counties, its Development Director, Laura Jennings Pitt of Pompton Lakes, explained, “Our bottom-line goal is to create a stigma free community. …we offer programs that will help individuals at all stages of recovery to find their way back to a meaningful life, and so, we don’t require abstinence of our participants but… we strive to meet them where they are.”  But, PIK is not just for those with an addiction; it offers help to family and friends who are trying to support them in recovery.  Also, it has prevention education programs.  PIK offers its free services through its brick-and-mortar CARES (Center for Addiction Recovery Education and Success) centers, its mobile units, and its 24-hour hot line.   Recently, Pitt talked a little about her role and gave an overview of PIK’s services.

Pitt is the organization’s first Development Director.   Prior to her, everyone in the organization seemed to take some part in handling fundraising and it’s just become too big of a task for it to be managed in that way. “They needed to implement a centralized strategy led by someone who’s got the skills and the vision to deliver on the promises of the development department and that’s what brought me here to this organization,” explained Pitt.

In addressing PIK’s offerings, Pitt noted that there are five physical CARES locations: one in Essex County (Newark), two in Morris County (Dover and Rockaway), and two in Burlington County (Burlington County and Burlington City).  “They’re a place where you can come and be part of a community that makes you feel welcomed. They’re really helpful for individuals who are just getting started in their recovery journey because they give them a place to go  [where they] can be away from substances and around people who are encouraging and supportive and positive and just want to be there for them [when they need us],” shared Pitt.  There’s peer support for both those in recovery and the people supporting them, where someone coming to the center is matched with someone with a similar background who’s gone through recovery or has supported someone going through recovery.   The centers offer a variety of meetings (NA, AA, etc.) plus various educational offerings which include Narcan training in recognizing an overdose and administering Narcan.  Administering Narcan to someone who is overdosing can reverse the effects of an overdose and save their life.

Pitt shared that there’s a monthly recovery recognition breakfast at the Rockaway location where individuals who are in or exploring the idea of recovery can meet with each other as well as network with some of the providers PIK works with.  The breakfast includes speakers who talk about the different services that are available and then there’s a story of recovery.  The breakfast takes place the second Monday of every month.

PIK also has mobile recovery units such as HOPE 1 for Morris County plus mobile units in Essex and Passaic counties.  Through these units, connection is made with those homeless individuals struggling with substance abuse.  “The way that we get the word out about where the mobile recovery units are going to be is in partnership with the sheriff’s offices, and those locations are publicized so we strive to make those units accessible to the communities,” shared Pitt.  Building trust is the first step. Those struggling with addiction may not immediately ask to see a social worker or mental health professional or seek treatment for recovery.  The mobile units give out homeless care packages, which are assembled at PIK’s general locations.  What’s in the packages may vary but they contain things like food, personal hygiene items, toiletries and clean underwear.  The unit will give rides to a place a homeless person might want to go to get a meal or shower or take the person to an appointment and then return the person to where they feel safe.  It is through interactions like this that the trust is built so that the connection is there when the individual is ready to take the first step to recovery.

Jennings noted that in Passaic County, part of a care package is fentanyl test strips.  Using these strips, a person can check for the presence of fentanyl in other substances such as heroin.  This is part of “harm reduction”.  Fentanyl is deadlier than other substances and Pitt noted that it can kill a person on the spot.  PIK realizes people receiving its packages can still be abusing.   Checking for fentanyl’s presence could keep a person from killing themselves by taking something laced with it.  The idea is that the abuser will live longer with a chance of recovery in their future.

Besides the mobile unit and CARE centers, PIK has a 24-hour telephone recovery support line.  “…if you don’t find our mobile recovery unit and you can’t come to our physical center. you can call us anytime,” said Pitt.  She noted that it is not only for people who are struggling with substance use but also anyone who’s affected by it.  The hotline number is 973-625-1143.

PIK offers events during the year addressing education, recovery, and fundraising. Its website lists what’s upcoming, ways to volunteer, and also includes a “shop” area where people can buy items to encourage those in recovery or as a way to support PIK by buying a gift for someone.

While, as its website notes, PIK  ”relies on many trusted relationships with private foundations and government agencies to sustain and advance its mission”, fundraising is needed.  According to its website, “There are over 27,000 individuals with a diagnosed SUD in the communities served by Prevention is Key, plus many others who struggle with problematic and chaotic use without any official diagnosis.” The funds PIK raises helps it to provide its services. An example of a fundraiser was the online #PIKYourWhy on social media for Giving Tuesday in November.  The organization encouraged supporters, friends, peers, and loved ones to post why PIK is important to them with a button for people to click to donate.   Also, people can donate at any time to the organization by going to a tab on its website: preventioniskey.org/donate

Pitt shared about a special fundraiser in the upcoming year.  Looking ahead, on May 24, 2023,  there will be a Road to Recovery event at the Windlass in Lake Hopatcong.  There will be a sunset cruise, a tricky tray, and a speaker who has used PIK’s services and is in long term recovery.

For more information on PIK, people can call 973-625-1143 or visit it online at preventioniskey.org.


Friends of the Pompton Lakes Library & The Pompton Lakes Women’s Club Dedicate New Bench and Celebrate the Library’s 110th Birthday

The Friends of the Pompton Lakes Library and the Pompton Lakes Women’s Club, joined together to dedicate an outdoor bench in honor of former Library Director and Women’s Club Member, Dr. Margaret Freathy (1937-2015).  Born and educated in Michigan, Dr. Freathy held several Professorial positions at Seton Hall University, Montclair State University and Brooklyn College.  In 1990, she was appointed as the Director of the Pompton Lakes Public Library.  Dr. Freathy modernized the Pompton Lakes Library by introducing computers and new technologies, and also served on many State, County and local committees.

2022 also represents the 110th anniversary of the opening of the Pompton Lakes Public Library.  Mrs. Emanuel Einstein bestowed the building as a gift to the people of Pompton Lakes, in memory of her late husband, who passed in 1906.  Mr. and Mrs. Einstein were residents of New York City and spent their summers in Pompton Lakes.  

As the library celebrates one hundred and ten years of service to the community, it is a vital center of the community, with a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction books, magazines, newspapers, DVDs and audio books. The library also offers children’s programs like Story Time sessions, and a Summer Reading Club.  For adults, the library offers Pompton Poets, a Book Discussion group, Chess Club, Mahjong Club, and Adult Coloring.

Check out Tina’s website Click Here or her Commercial Click Here

The Friends of the Library plan events, such as the annual film festival, used book sales, reading events, author presentations and have recently planted flowers and bulbs to beautify the library grounds.

Steve Edgeller, President of the Pompton Lakes Library said, “We’re very pleased to be here celebrating the 110th anniversary of the library, and very pleased to have this beautiful and characterful building in our town.”

Margaret Kaffka, Co-President of the Pompton Lakes Women’s Club said, “The Women’s Club are delighted to dedicate this bench outside the library to Dr Freathy, who was a valued and much loved member of our club, as well as a dedicated and conscientious library Director.” 

The Friends of the Pompton Lakes Library is an independent non-profit volunteer organization working to further the educational and informational needs of the community through its support of the Emanuel Einstein Memorial Library, also known as The Pompton Lakes Library.  The Friends of the Pompton Lakes Library is a not for profit 501(c)(3) corporation.

The Pompton Lakes Women’s Club is a volunteer organization whose objectives are to promote the civic, cultural, and social life of the community.


A Winning Recipe to Feed Game Day Fans


Settling in for an afternoon of gridiron action calls for football food from dips and appetizers to full-blown feasts. Whether you’re a diehard fan, casual observer or just there for the game time grub, a full day of “homegating” requires flavorful eats to refuel the crowd.

One of the easiest ways to take your menu from benchwarmer to superstar status is to add foods from one of the country’s top authentic Mexican food brands, Cacique, to your playbook. For example, flavor-packed, heaping Cheesy Chorizo Nachos can score a touchdown at your gathering, even among the pickiest of fans. When the game is on the line, call on this dish to keep your team satisfied from kickoff to the final whistle.

Made with crumbly, creamy, pleasantly milky queso fresco; authentic real cheese queso dip that’s ready in minutes; robust, spicy pork chorizo; fresh-tasting Crema Mexicana; and small-batch homestyle salsa, this shareable dish can feed a houseful of hungry fans. Ready in less than an hour, it’s a perfect solution for pregame baking so it’s ready just before the coin toss.

To find more game day recipes, visit CaciqueInc.com.

Cheesy Chorizo Nachos

1 package Cacique Pork Chorizo
1 package Cacique Queso Blanco Queso Dip
1 can (15 ounces) refried beans
2 tablespoons water, plus additional, if necessary
1 bag (12 ounces) tortilla chips
1 package Cacique Ranchero Queso Fresco
1/2 cup Cacique Crema Mexicana
1 large jalapeno, sliced thin
2 radishes, sliced thinfresh cilantro leaves, for garnish guacamole, for serving

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Cacique Mild Homestyle Salsa, for serving

In large nonstick skillet or well-seasoned cast-iron pan over medium-low heat, cook pork chorizo, using spoon to break it up. Stir regularly until completely warmed through and deep brown, scraping crispy bits from bottom of pan.

Microwave queso dip 2-3 minutes until heated through.

In medium bowl, thin refried beans with water. Beans should be thick but nearly pourable; add additional water 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary.

Heat oven to 350 F.

To assemble nachos, add half the tortilla chips to 13-by-9-inch rectangular baking dish. Use spoon to drizzle half the queso dip and half the refried beans evenly over chips, distributing as evenly as possible. Sprinkle with half the crumbled queso fresco. Repeat with remaining chips, queso dip, beans and crumbled queso fresco. Bake 5-8 minutes until crumbled queso fresco softens and queso dip is creamy.

Remove from oven then drizzle with crema Mexicana and scatter pork chorizo over top. Garnish with sliced jalapenos, radishes and fresh cilantro. Serve with guacamole and salsa. (Family Features)

Celebrate the Holidays with Special Centerpieces

Few things bring family and friends together quite like the holidays, and serving up an elegant, seasonal meal centered around a mouthwatering main dish is a recipe for creating lasting memories with the ones you love.

Forging a fabulous holiday experience for the special people in your life starts with choosing a flavorful, tender cut of meat to serve as the centerpiece of the meal. Hand-cut by expert butchers, an option like Spiral-Sliced Ham from Omaha Steaks can serve as the focal point of a memorable holiday dinner. Flash frozen to capture freshness and flavor, you can select a standout cut of meat from the comfort of your home and have it delivered directly to your door in time to put together a tender, juicy main course.

Find more holiday recipe inspiration at OmahaSteaks.com/blog/recipes.

Rum and Cola Holiday Ham

Recipe courtesy of Omaha Steaks Executive Chef David Rose

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 80 minutes Servings: 10-12


1 Omaha Steaks Spiral-Sliced Ham (8 pounds)


1 cup cherry fruit spread
3/4 cup dark spiced rum
3/4 cup cola
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

To make ham: Thaw frozen ham in refrigerator 24-48 hours.

Remove from refrigerator and let ham come to room temperature, about 30-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 F. Remove ham from foil and film. Return ham to foil wrapping and place in oven-safe roasting pan. Roll foil down leaving 2 inches of foil around bottom of ham.

Place roasting pan with ham in oven on lower rack and heat uncovered 60-75 minutes, until ham starts to brown. While ham cooks, make glaze.

To make glaze: In medium saucepot, whisk fruit spread, rum, cola, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard and salt until well incorporated. Bring to boil then reduce heat to medium. Simmer over medium heat 10 minutes then remove from heat. Cool to room temperature.

During last 15 minutes of cooking, glaze ham every 5 minutes. (Family Features)
An Appetizer Worth the (Short) Wait
Appetizers are many people’s favorite part of a meal. From dips and finger foods to little treats and fried pieces of perfection, there is a wide array of considerations for a pre-meal snack.

Some appetizers are much more appropriate at certain events. For example, buffalo chicken wings are best enjoyed on game days, salads are normally served at showers and vegetable trays are a typical Thanksgiving Day classic.

However, there are recipes that are too easy to make and too satisfying not to serve at almost every festivity you and your family attend. This Easy Crab Rangoon shines above the rest for many reasons, but the main point of this heavenly sample is it’s easy to make and bake.

This appetizer is placed in the oven until it’s golden brown, topped with little green scallions with a creamy filling all packaged in a crispy outer layer.

Plus, the cream cheese is mixed with luscious amounts of crab meat. This is a seafood lover’s dream. Actually, it’s any appetizer lover’s dream.

To make this mouthwatering recipe, you only need a handful of ingredients and a few kitchen tools.

The little bites of perfection come out of the oven steaming hot, waiting to be topped with more crunchy, fresh scallions. Once they have cooled for a few moments, they are ready to be devoured.

This bite-size, savory snack will be all the rage at family dinners and parties with the kids alike. They fit perfectly in the palms of hands and within a few bites, they are gone and your loved ones are asking for seconds.

Find more appetizer recipes that are simple and made to impress at Culinary.net.

Easy Crab Rangoon

Servings: 12

Nonstick cooking spray
12 wonton wrappers
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 ounces lump crabmeat
1 scallion, sliced thin, green and white parts separated
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Heat oven to 350 F.

Spray muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Press wonton wrappers into muffin cups. Lightly spray wrappers with nonstick cooking spray and bake until lightly browned, 6-9 minutes. Let cool slightly.

In medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Combine with crabmeat, scallion whites, ginger and soy sauce. Fill each wonton wrapper with filling. Bake until filling is heated through, 6-8 minutes.

Sprinkle with scallion greens. Serve warm. (Culinary.net)
A Crunchy, Caramelized Delight

When it comes to fall, certain foods become an iconic representation of the season. Sweet treats are certainly part of the seasonal traditions for many families, especially when they call for the versatile flavor of apples.

You can make your next family dessert a hit with the rich taste of Country Caramel Apples, a simple take on a classic fall treat that calls for just three ingredients. Just carve out round pieces of apple, insert toothpicks into each bite then let little ones help roll on the caramel dip and crushed pecans.

An option like the Envy apple, which has been referred to as “the ultimate apple experience” for its consistently balanced, refreshing sweetness coupled with a crisp, elegant crunch, adds just the right texture. Easy to spot with their crimson red skin over a golden background that practically glows, the apples are naturally descended from Braeburn and Royal Gala apple varieties, bred by farmers who use time-honored plant-breeding methods. Plus, the apples’ bright white flesh is naturally slow to brown when sliced, so they stay fresher longer.

Find more fall recipe ideas at EnvyApple.com.

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Country Caramel Apples

3 Envy Apples
crushed pecans
caramel dip

Using melon ball scoop, carve out round apple pieces by starting at skin and rotating inward.
Insert one toothpick into each apple piece.
Place crushed pecans in small bowl.
Roll round apple pieces in caramel dip then crushed pecans.
Place coated apple bites on serving tray and refrigerate until ready to serve. (Family Features)
Put a Zesty Spin on Weeknight Meals

Dinner in many households means foolproof recipes that families can count on, but those can become bland and boring. Finding new ways to put a twist on meals throughout the week adds fun to time spent in the kitchen while bringing new flavor to the table.

To help reinvigorate traditional weeknight dinners, chef Bobby Flay and Hidden Valley Ranch created the three-part Hidden Valley Ranch Night! series to debut dishes that bring bold flavor to traditional meals, such as these recipes for Ranch Crusted Burgers with Avocado Ranch Sauce and Ranch Seasoned Chicken and Mushroom Quesadillas with Tomato Salsa and Sour Cream. The series will provide a spin on weeknight staples to showcase the simplicity, versatility and zesty flavor of ranch seasoning when used to create family-friendly dinners any night of the week.

Find more information, including series episodes and additional recipes, at hiddenvalley.com/ranch-night.

Ranch Crusted Burgers with Avocado Ranch Sauce

Servings: 4

Avocado Ranch Sauce:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced

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Ranch Spice Crusted Burger:

1 1/2 tsps Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning
1 teaspoon paprika
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck (80% lean)
2 tablespoons canola oil
8 slices American cheese
1/4cup water
4 brioche buns, split in half

Avocado Ranch Sauce

To make avocado ranch sauce: In bowl, whisk mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, ranch seasoning, salt and pepper until smooth. Fold in green onions and diced avocados; set aside.

To make burgers: In small bowl, whisk ranch seasoning, paprika, salt and pepper.

Heat large cast-iron pan or griddle over high heat. Divide meat into four 6-ounce patties and make deep depression in centers with thumb. Season each with spice rub on one side.

Add canola oil to pan and heat until shimmering. Place on burgers in pan, spice side down, and cook until golden brown and lightly charred, 4 minutes. Turn burgers over and cook 4 minutes, or until they reach desired doneness.

Top each burger with two slices cheese. Add water to pan and cover tightly with lid 10 seconds, or until the cheese is melted.

Place burgers on bottom buns and top each with avocado ranch sauce and top buns.

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