Everyone is Invited to a Two-Day Celebration of Witherspoon-Jackson
By Donald Gilpin
Highlighting its slogan, “Our history is our foundation; our strength is our diversity,” Princeton’s Witherspoon-Jackson (W-J) neighborhood will be sprucing up and celebrating its rich culture and history on Saturday and Sunday, May 18 and 19.
Co-sponsored by the Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society, Witherspoon-Jackson Development Corporation, and the Witherspoon-Jackson Neighborhood Association, W-J Welcome Weekend activities will include clean-up and beautification as well as yard sales, open houses for viewing, music, and displays by various groups.
The kickoff event will take place at Studio Hillier on Witherspoon Street Saturday, May 18, at 9 a.m., with breakfast followed by the unveiling of historic plaques and the 20th Historic District Heritage tour. Longtime resident and Princeton Housing Authority Chair Leighton Newlin noted that this will be the culmination and celebration of the W-J neighborhood becoming Princeton’s 20th Historic District in April 2016.
W-J Historian Shirley Satterfield will lead an historic tour of the neighborhood from 10 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturday.
On Sunday, May 19, from 12-3 p.m. Mary Moss Playground will host a tree planting, as well as cultural displays and a cookout with hot dogs and ice cream.
“We want to share the history and culture of our neighborhood,” Newlin told Town Topics in March. “But the most important thing is to generate enthusiasm throughout the neighborhood so people can get to know each other. We’ll celebrate our history by taking time to clean it up, making it look good, and taking pride in it.”
Newlin, who grew up on Birch Avenue, next door to the house he lives in today, added, “When I was a child, the people who lived here were African American and Italian American, pretty exclusively. That’s changed drastically. Now we’re the most diverse, eclectic neighborhood in town. We’ve experienced growing pains, and the high cost of living in Princeton has been devastating to many families.”
Curbside cleanup activities, grass cutting, leaf raking, sidewalk sweeping, and window washing, with neighbors helping neighbors, will take place on Saturday morning. Starting at 8 a.m., free flowers will be available at Mary Moss Playground for residents to plant in their yards. Businesses in the neighborhood have been encouraged to offer incentives for shoppers throughout the weekend.