WOODBRIDGE, NJ - The state’s oldest township will celebrate its 350th sesquarcentennial with youthful enthusiasm on June 1.
Woodbridge's anniversary celebration in Iselin's Merrill Park will be the culmination of a year-long series of events that have included history displays, a student essay and poetry contest, student and senior art contest, and history-spiked pub crawl.
Activities will include:
- Music performances by E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg’s Jukebox Trio, The Nerds, the Wanted DOA Bon Jovi tribute band, children’s performer Tom Chapin, and The Jazz Lobsters
- Nostalgic return of the Iselin Fair, which operated from 1933 to 2011
- Old-time baseball game
- Food trucks and vendors
- Children’s Fun Park
Mayor John McCormac said he is most looking forward to the inter-generational music.
“Five shows cover all generations from a kids’ band to a senior band and everything in between,” said McCormac, who just a few weeks later will launch the annual Mayor’s Summer Concert Series.
Max Weinberg's Jukebox, a classic-rock trio featuring Central Jersey rockers Glen Burtnik and Bob Burger, will be among five music acts performing at Woodbridge Township's 350th Anniversary Celebration on June 1 in Merrill Park in the Iselin section. (Photo: Summit Speech School)
The crawl included a visit to the former site of Cross Keys Tavern, now the Knights of Columbus, at Amboy Avenue and Main Street. But on April 22, 1789, the historic tavern was paid a visit by George Washington while he was on route to New York to be inaugurated as the young nation’s first president.
A history marker that is part of the state’s George Washington Slept Here series at that spot reads: “This tavern, operated at the time by John Manning, hosted the overnight stay of George Washington April 22, 1789 on route to his inauguration on April 30, 1789. Washington was accompanied on the part of the journey from New Brunswick to Rahway by Captain Nathaniel Heard and militia from Woodbridge. The tavern was originally located at the corner of Main Street and Amboy Avenue.”
McCormac said his favorite part of the township’s 350-year history is its contribution to the Revolutionary War, which included Samuel Parker accompanying Heard on his midnight ridge to New Brunswick to deliver the Lexington Alarm in 1775. Parker was the son of famed Colonial printer James Parker, the namesake of the township’s Parker Press Park.
Mayor since 2006, McCormick said the thrill he gets serving his hometown has been especially exciting throughout the year-long anniversary celebration.
“I won’t be here for the 400th, so we might as well do as much as we can,” he said. “Everybody in Woodbridge now knows what sesquarcentennial means in case they get on ‘Jeopardy.’”