NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ- Since its inception in 2002, former Mayor Al Morgan has used the phrase “by the people and for the people” to describe Centennial Park. And last night, at the park’s 10th anniversary celebration, it became evident that Morgan’s hopes for creating Centennial Park 10 years ago became a reality.
At the turn of the century, Morgan was inspired to transform the lawn in front of what used to be Lincoln School into a park that residents of the town could enjoy. “I went to school here,” Morgan explained, “and when they knocked the front portion down it was just a field of weeds.”
But in the year 2000, Morgan decided to construct Centennial Park for the New Providence community. Many local businesses and residents helped to create the park and were recognized for their generous contributions at the 10th Anniversary ceremony.
Ted Kapuscinski, the architect who designed the Alan M. Augustine Pavilion, volunteered his time and effort to the park because he thought it was a wonderful project. “Living in town,” Kapuscinski said, “it was significant for us and important for us to be a part of the team that put this together.”
And many other volunteers felt the same way. When Carmen Torsiello, one of the volunteers who helped build the pavilion, was asked to help with the construction of Centennial Park, he was honored. “As a long-time New Providence resident,” Torsiello said, “I was thrilled to be a part of something so monumental.”
At the ceremony, Morgan read from a long list of volunteers and recognized each and every one of them for their dedication for making his vision such a success. “It’s a legacy to the volunteers who created this park,” Morgan told The Alternative Press.
With the recent addition of the 9/11 Memorial, Centennial Park has continued to serve the people of New Providence. Just last year, on the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, a monument made out of steel from the World Trade Center was dedicated to local residents who lost loved ones in those tragic events.
The steel was donated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
In front of the monument lies the tile mural given to Centennial Park ten years ago by the community of Flower Mound,Texas.
“9/11 occurred halfway through the construction of this park,” Morgan explained, “so it only seemed fitting to build a memorial to honor the people [in New Providence] that we lost.”
At the Centennial Park 10th Anniversary, a plaque on the opposite side of the 9/11 Memorial was dedicated to the town of New Providence. Mike Gennaro, borough council president, described the plaque as “containing a number of symbols that remind us of that fateful day.”
Morgan unveiled the plaque after Gennaro explained the meaning behind its many patriotic symbols, the most important being the Twin Towers.
Another plaque was added to the front of the Alan M. Augustine Pavilion. This one marked the 10th anniversary of Centennial Park and thanked the many volunteers who made it possible.
Throughout the ceremony, a number of people spoke about how integral Centennial Park is to the New Providence community. Dr. Bob Robinson, Chair of the 10th Anniversary Celebration Committee, told the crowd that “since , there have been many wonderful events held here.”
The Tim Gillis Band, a musical group that also performs at the annual New Providence Summer Concert Series, played during and after the 10th Anniversary ceremony. Joe Steiner, of the New Providence Business and Professional Association, told The Alternative Press that The Tim Gillis Band is the only group to have performed at the Summer Concert Series each year since Centennial Park was created.
During the ceremony, the Tim Gillis Band honored America’s independence by playing patriotic songs like “God Bless America.” Afterwards, residents sang and danced along to the band’s set list.
Many important people came out to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of Centennial Park, including Congressman Leonard Lance and Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz. Adding to the general mood of the night, Assemblywoman Munoz said “you should be so incredibly proud of this pavilion because you took this empty piece of land and built it into this beautiful pavilion.”
“This park was built by a lot of people who wanted to make New Providence a better place to live,” explained Morgan.
And at the 10th anniversary celebration, the generous support of local businesses and residents showed just how great it is to live in this town.
Corporate sponsors for the event included Braunschweiger Jewelers, Prudential New Jersey Realtors, Elefante Music, Zita’s Ice Cream, The Prestige Diner, Creative Wallcoverings and Interiors, Dr. Bob Robinson, and The New Providence Downtown Improvement District.
Refreshments like hamburgers, hotdogs, water, and ice cream were served to attendees free of charge thanks to a number of other donors. Refreshment sponsors included The Prestige Diner, A&P Supermarket, Avenue Deli, Paolo’s Kitchen, Bacci Brick Oven Pizza, Coppola’s, Providence Liquor, NP Fuel, McGrath’s Hardware, and Zita’s.
Another group of volunteers helped to prepare and serve the food.
Just as the construction of Centennial Park can be attributed to the many people who helped out, the 10th anniversary ceremony would not have been possible without the planning efforts of the 10th Anniversary Celebration Committee. Dr. Bob Robinson, Jimmy Vardas, Doug Marvin, Cindy Reis, Michelle Brugger, Al Morgan, Bill Hoefling, Gary Kapner, Ted Kapuscinski, Al Elefante, Ken DeRoberts, and Joe and Pam Steiner truly made this night so special.
Jimmy Vardas, president of the Downtown Improvement District, thanked “all of the local businesses that so abundantly donated for the success of this celebration.” And again reiterating the theme of the night, Vardas added, “it is our community, businesses and residents that make our town so great.”