RAHWAY – The city is excited to announce the celebrations planned throughout the year in honor of Rahway’s historic 150-year anniversary.
The celebration of the 150th anniversary of Rahway’s incorporation as a city will begin with an official kick-off on Thursday, May 1, in recognition of the year-round “First Thursdays” specials. On that night and the following night, the downtown arts district (anchored by the Union County Performing Arts Center) will show off its recent renovation with music, entertainment, and arts and crafts.
“We’re opening our anniversary celebration with fun for our whole community,” said Mayor James Kennedy. Festivities continue on Saturday, May 3, with a block party on Cherry Street, offering food, games, and prizes galore for the whole town to enjoy. Music will be provided by live bands, while entertainment will run the gamut from poetry reading to clowns, comedians, and more. Face painting, table art, a fashion show, a dance contest, and a jump rope contest are just a few of the events planned. So come and show off a few fancy steps, reveal your inner poet, or just enjoy the stroll – it will be a great time for everyone.
First settled in 1660, Rahway features historic architecture from the late 1700s and early 1800s set along a beautiful running river, as well as brand new high-rises with views of Manhattan. The city has roots that date back to its inclusion in a parcel of land known as the Elizabethtown Purchase, acquired from the Lenni Lenape Indians in 1664. The Battle of Spanktown was fought here, and the victory claimed by the revolutionaries against the British was one of many that led to the first state mint being established here – the first to issue currency bearing the phrase “e pluribus unum.”
That St. Georges Avenue was a main thoroughfare back then, connecting New York City to Philadelphia, is of no surprise to current residents; Rahway continues to act as a major transportation hub between those two cities, as well as Trenton and the Jersey shore. In fact, the train station received a major renovation within the last five years, along with the building of a new parking deck. The city embraces its history and its old-town feel…and thrives on its new-age convenience.
“This celebration couldn’t be timelier…there’s been so much going on in Rahway, so much renovation, so much new construction…it’s a great opportunity to honor our history as well as take pride in what we’ve done to build our future,” said Kennedy.
Throughout the year Anniversary flags will be displayed around town, flags that will be joined by 150 American flags beginning in May, just in time for the Memorial Day Parade. The presence of those flags will heighten the excitement around one of the main events of the year, hosted by the Mayor himself.
The city’s Gala 150th Anniversary Celebration will be a festive evening of dining and dancing held on Friday, June 20, at St. Thomas the Apostle Church Hall. With music, food, and dancing taking center stage, the evening is sure to prove to be a pleasure for all. The special event, open town-wide, will be a memorable way to start off the summer.
Independence Day weekend will feature still more entertainment and crafts in the downtown arts district, starting Thursday, July 3. Antique cars will be exhibited during a special cruise through the historic streets, and the evening will mark the beginning of the New Jersey Ultimate Elvis Tribute Contest & Festival®, which will run all weekend long. On Friday, July 4, Greenfield Park will play host to a carnival, a Tim Gillis concert, and fireworks.
“The fireworks exhibit is always spectacular. And this year, with the carnival and concert leading up to it, the show is sure to be amazing,” said Donald Godfrey, chairman of the 150th Anniversary Committee.
Fall will be marked by the planting of 150 trees in commemoration of the city’s long history. And Rahway alumni, take note: a multi-class reunion weekend is planned for Oct. 2 through Oct. 4. Rahway High School alumni reunions will take place Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings in the downtown arts district, with music, art and entertainment featuring Rahway graduates. To cap off the weekend, “Beatlemania” will be presented at the Union County Performing Arts Center on Saturday, Oct. 4. A YMCA carnival will also be held.
The City of Rahway will be offering a park-and-ride from City Hall to all downtown events.
For more information about Rahway’s 150th Anniversary celebrations and a calendar of events, go to www.Rahway150.com.
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