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Somerville Christmas Memories

A series of upcoming posts will explore the evolution of shopping and its impact on local businesses.

There’s nothing like getting a sense of how times have changed like a side by side eyewitness comparison of someone who has not only been a Somerville  shopper since 1964, but a Somerville small business owner as well.

Loraine  Sarra had a lingerie shop on Main Street that many of you probably remember-Beneath it All.

Lorraine’s  “love local” profile is underscored by her 30 years of  volunteering to help small businesses in town through the Somerville Business and Professional Association. She currently holds the position as Secretary Treasurer for the SBPA.

The SBPA does more than help small businesses, it enriches the community as well. Many events downtown such as the “Strolling Carolers and Musicians” and the horse drawn “Carriage Rides” are Christmas memories compliments of the SBPA. In addition, the SBPA has donated to local scholarships and organizations such as the Somerville Rescue Squad, the Food Bank of Somerset County, the Women’s Shelter ,and various other organizations in the county.

It seemed like it would be interesting to get a glimpse into Somerville’s Christmas shopping past through the eyes of someone who’s seen it all. I asked her to walk us down Somerville’s holiday memory lane.

Q: How would you compare today’s downtown Christmas shopping experience to when the SBPA started?

L: Well when we moved into the area in 1964 there wasn’t any mall then. When the SBPA started there was around 300 retail stores in town. Only a few small places to eat or have coffee- Woolworth’s, Buffalo Bill’s (now Phoenix Cafe) Lorraine’s Sweet Shop and so much more. Everything you needed was available, including drug stores and food stores.

Q:-Sounds like a pretty bustling scene. What did it look like in terms of holiday decorations, music and events back then?

L: There was a sound system on the roof of one of the stores and holiday music was played until the holidays were over. There were enormous tress that were wrapped in lights and tinsel, with large wooden soldiers standing in the tinsel.

Q: A lot of people are not aware that the SBPA sponsors alot of Christmas activities that have created some wonderful memories for their family. Would you describe the Christmas activities that the SBPA sponsors for Somerville?

L: To my knowledge, the SBPA had always done pictures and brunch with Santa.

Q: Sorry to cut you off there, but I saw that pictures with Santa were cancelled this year?

L: We try to encourage our members to host some of our events. This year the restaurant that always hosted Santa didn’t respond to our request, which is sad for so many people who enjoy that tradition.

Q: Do you expect we’ll have them again next year?

L: I have gotten quite a few calls to do so and hope that we can. It’s an event that the parents also enjoy.

Anyway, The SBPA  also ran “Santaland” which was a craft fair with hand made items by a senior group. We also had musicians every weekend before Christmas and at least one carriage ride per one Saturday.

Q: So aside from the senior crafts a lot of that is still going on.

L: Yes, the Christmas poster up on the SBPA Facebook page lists all the events and times for the Strolling Carollers and Musicians as well as the Carriage Rides.

Q: What you’ve described could be a parallel to the Somerville’s Ghosts of Christmas present and past. What, in your opinion, would Somerville’s Ghost of Christmas future have to say?

L:  Well, it would be nice to have some of that available again-the variety we used to have in terms of shopping. If you have a town  full of residents, why should they spend their salary in other towns? How many times a week will they eat out? Parking will still be a problem.

Q: Do you have any ideas on how that might happen? How Somerville could attract a wider variety of businesses?

L: Retail as it used to be is getting to be something of the past. Internet shopping has taken over the market. I can understand that. Most of online shopping offers free shipping which is great.

However, that’s not how memories are made, jobs created or how unique downtown areas are preserved. So I think the way to attract businesses is to promote local shopping and keep the experience alive. That’s where the SBPA comes in, provided you have their shopping needs

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

 L: I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

For more information about the Somerville Business and Professional Association visit the website at Somervillebiz.org and “like” the facebook page. Add your own Somerville Christmas memories and pics in the comments!

~Diane Gerber is the facebook admin for the SBPA and a believer in loving local. She formerly managed Aternatives of Raritan’s  It’s all good” store on Main Street that offered training for job seekers with disabilities.

Mark Your Calendar!

Make some warm and wonderful holiday memories!

All sponsored by the Somerville Business & Professional Association

Wishing you the Happiest of Holidays to you and yours : )

 

The Fall Street Fair Was a Huge Success!

It was a beautiful day to make some memories on Main Street. As always, vendors, musicians and kid friendly activities provided fun for the whole family.

The next street fair will be in the Spring-we’ll keep you posted! Applications for next year’s fairs will be posted soon. Check the “events” tab often and like us on Facebook!

Food Vendors Add Zest to Somerville Street Fair & Music Fest

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Main Street was packed with thousands of visitors Sunday for the annual Street Fair and Music Fest sponsored by the Somerville Business & Professional Association.

Hundreds of vendors lined both sides of the street, displaying original artwork and handcrafted home goods. There were home improvement specialists, cell phone providers, non-profits soliciting donations, Super Heroes, Realtors, vendors selling clothing, shoes, cosmetics and other items.

But the lines were longest wherever there was a food vendor.

There were hot pretzels, pizza and Italian ices, sausage and peppers, shish-ka-bob, ice cream, funnel cakes, corn-on-the-cob, freshly-brewed coffee and ethnic foods – something for everyone.

This article was written by Rod Hirsch from Tap into Somerville

Somerville Spring Street Fair

It’s that time again!

Sunday June 4th
Main Street, Somerville
from 11AM-5PMFun for the whole family!

Come join us and make some memories:)

Another community event Sponsored by the
Somerville Business and Professional Association.
For updates like us on facebook

Tour of Somerville Cycling Series Memorial Day Weekend

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Competitive cyclists from throughout the world will again converge in central New Jersey Memorial Day weekend to compete in the 74th edition of one of America’s classic cycling events, the annual Tour of Somerville on Monday, May 29.

Re-branded as The Tour of Somerville Cycling Series, sponsors have extended racing over the course of three days, with racing events in Bound Brook on Saturday, May 27 and Raritan on Sunday, May 28.

The Tour of Somerville Cycling Series is promoted by Arts on Division, a Somerset County-based non-profit organizaton that encourages and supports all aspects of culture and the arts. Arts on Division donates a portion of the Tour proceeds to local nonprofit organizations.

Additionally, the Tour has secured Michael Malekoff as race director. He returns to Somerville as a long-time resident, former standout cyclist and, most important, a promoter of major national and international cycling events including state, national and international events like the U.S. national cycling championships, U.S. Olympic trials, the 1984 Olympic track championships and the 1986 World Cycling Championships.

The Tour of Somerville attracts thousands of spectators from the tri-state area each year and more than 600 competitive cyclists from around the world in various categories from Juniors, Masters, Women, Senior Men and Pro Men.

The featured event is the historic Kugler-Anderson Memorial 50-mile criterium, the nation’s oldest, major bicycle race. Named after two cyclists who won the first and second races in 1940 and 1941, they both gave their lives in World War II. To honor their memory and sacrifice, the race was named after them when it resumed in 1947.

More than a sporting event, the “Tour” has been described by Sports Illustrated, the New York Times and other media as a combined street fair, music festival, community expo and neighborhood lawn party all wrapped around the fast-paced, multi-lap competition through the streets of Somerville’s historic downtown.
Past competitors have included the likes of Tour de France winner Greg LeMond and Olympic gold medal speed skater turned cyclist Eric Heiden, as well as scores of national and world cycling champions; all have applauded the size and enthusiasm of the crowds lining the race’s course and the sense of community and history that defines Somerville.

For the second consecutive year, both men’s and women’s race participants will be competing for equal prize lists, the first national bicycle race to make parity a priority. In addition, a new “Kid’s Race” will be added where youngsters can compete for bragging rights and ribbons.

For more information about the Tour of Somerville Cycling Series, day-of activities, sponsorship or registration information; visit the website at www.tourofsomerville.org or send an email to: info@tourofsomerville.org.

This post was written by Rod Hirsch of Tap into Somerville. 

Downtown Somerville Arts and Crafts Fest April 23rd!

Mark the date! 4th Annual Downtown Somerville Arts and Crafts Fest

Artisan food too! Bring the kids!

EVENT DESCRIPTION

Historic Downtown Somerville has become a hot spot as an event venue. Surrounded by towns such as, Basking Ridge, Bridgewater, Flemington and Warren, this location has become a very popular attraction for arts & crafts lovers.

In past years, exhibitors were delighted to see the number of visitors that came to the festival. As you stroll through Downtown Somerville, along with the original works of very talented artisans you will enjoy the backdrop of the wide variety of specialty retailers and unique shops that you just won’t see anywhere else. Many of the restaurants offer open-air seating, an area to listen to live music, as well as a “hands on” free craft section for the children (no rides or other festivities for kids are available).

Open 10AM-5PM, this event is juried and has approximately 100 exhibitors, all artists, crafters and photographers…approximately 60% are returning exhibitors.

ARTISAN & CRAFTERS
Many talented artisans, craftsmen and photographers will be displaying and selling a wonderful mix of quality contemporary crafts as well as fine art. There will be original handmade works such as oil and acrylic paintings, watercolors, sculpture, photography, pottery, jewelry, decorative fiber works, metal works, paper, stone, garden works and so much more.  Some exhibitors will be demonstrating their craft.  You can view photographs of the many exhibitors’ works on display at this fair and their websites.

COME HUNGRY
Downtown Somerville features some of the best local gourmet restaurants in Somerset County.  Many nights the streets are filled with locals and out of towners coming to Main Street to enjoy the wide variety of food establishments. In addition, this event will also have festival food vendors, food truck vendors serving such foods as gyros, chicken fingers, shish ka bob, french fries, baklava, zeppolle, carb cakes, kettle corn, sausage sandwiches, cheese steaks, funnel cakes, pretzels & fried oreos.

FREE CONCERT
Stop by and enjoy the great line up of music we have in store for you throughout the day.  Take a load off, have a seat and enjoy the talented musicians and singers we have lined up.  The entertainment area is located by Alfonso’s Restaurant at 99 Main St.

KIDS
There will be a free kids crafts table near the music area. There will also be a face painter set up in this area.

Sorry kids…no rides at the arts & crafts festivals.

Note: JC does have rides & more at JC’s regular street festivals.  Look for JC events that feature a Kids Zone for lots of fun activities for the children.  Check our event schedule for a listing of all our events.

PARKING
There is plenty of shoppers parking located off of Bridge Street and West or East High Street and behind all of the stores along Main St.

HOSTED BY
This event is being hosted by the Somerville Business and Professional Organization. The SBPA is a private, non-profit voluntary membership organization comprised of business owners representatives, professionals, individuals and community groups whose primary goal is to make Somerville a better place for the public and it’s members to conduct business.

The association activities heighten the awareness of the public regarding the variety of shopping; dining and business ­opportunities available in Somerville.

PRODUCED BY
This event is produced by JC Promotions, Inc. For information on exhibiting at this juried event please contact Cissy at 201.998.6311 or events@jcpromotions.info.

JC is an event planning company that produces street festivals, arts & crafts fairs, vintage marketplace, flea markets and special events.  If your group is interested in event planning or fundraising please call JC at 201.998.6311 or events@jcpromotions.info.  Thank you!

 

To learn more visit J.C. Promotions

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