August 25, 2021

By Donald Gilpin

At his first press conference in two weeks, on Monday, August 23, just hours after the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced that all school personnel, public and private, from preschool through high school, must be fully vaccinated by October 18 or be subjected to weekly testing. The rule also applies to state employees and faculty and staff at state colleges and universities.

Murphy expressed hope that the FDA approval would encourage people to get vaccinated who had previously been holding off.

The Princeton Health Department reported Monday a total of 14 new COVID-19 cases in the previous seven days and 31 cases in the previous 14 days. Out of Princeton residents age 12 and over, 78 percent have been vaccinated (96 percent of residents 65 and over).

Since July 7 the health department has reported 57 cases of COVID-19 in Princeton, 39 (68.4 percent) of which have been breakthrough cases.

Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser, in a memo last week to the town administrator, urged that the return to in-person local government meetings, originally planned for mid-September, be delayed until further notice due to the spread of the Delta variant and rising infection rates.

In the August 23 Princeton Newsletter, the health department stated, “COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. are highly effective, including against the Delta variant, but they are not 100 percent effective and some fully vaccinated people will become infected (called a breakthrough infection) and experience illness. For such people, the vaccine still provides them strong protection against serious illness and death. Infections happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, even with the Delta variant. However, fully vaccinated people who become infected with the Delta variant can spread the virus to others.”

The Princeton Health Department has announced that, starting September 20, it will begin to offer booster doses to individuals who have had the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for at least eight months. The Princeton Health Department expects to host regular booster clinics starting in September. More details will be provided soon. more

By Donald Gilpin

There have been periods during the past 18 months of the pandemic when the Princeton University campus — from the spires of the graduate college through the central campus to the edges of Harrison Street and the banks of Lake Carnegie — has seemed unusually quiet. But the University has been anything but dormant.

Moving ahead on its 2026 Campus Plan, developed and initiated over the past five years with “the most ambitious and comprehensive planning process” in its history, Princeton University has been progressing rapidly on its “transformative journey” towards its “mission-centered vision for the campus.”

Last week’s special Princeton University Weekly Bulletin noted “tremendous progress campus-wide,” with several projects completed over the last 18 months, much new construction underway on campus, and construction that will be starting in the coming months. The University declined to discuss costs of its massive array of construction projects.

Most striking so far, under the heading of “Renewal of Central Campus,” are the new residential colleges 7 and 8, slated for completion in the summer of 2022, and the new Princeton University Art Museum, scheduled to open in the fall of 2024.

The residential colleges, under construction during the past year adjacent to each other  in the southeastern portion of the central campus south of Poe Field, are built to each potentially house an additional 500 undergraduates and to advance “one of Princeton’s highest strategic priorities” — expanding the undergraduate population by about 10 percent. more

By Donald Gilpin

In August of 1781 thousands of troops under General George Washington and the allied French General Comte de Rochambeau marched through Princeton via Mount Lucas Road, Witherspoon Street, and Nassau Street, with about 5,000 soldiers camping on the grounds at Morven House on their way to help the Continental Army win its final major victory in the Revolutionary War in October at Yorktown, Virginia.

The 700-mile march will be commemorated this Saturday, August 28 along the Millstone River in Griggstown, with Canal Road in Franklin Township closed from Amwell Road to Route 518 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to encourage walking and biking on the narrow thoroughfare. (A half-mile section between Butler Road and the Griggstown Causeway will remain open to permit east-west traffic to cross the Millstone River.)

“Come ready to walk or bike on this historic and scenic roadway,” said Brad Fay, president of the Millstone Valley Preservation Coalition (MVPC), co-sponsor of the event along with Franklin Township. “It’s a rare opportunity to enjoy the scenic byway without fearing for the through traffic.”

Troops crossed the Millstone River twice, at the one-lane Griggstown Causeway bridge and again at Route 518 near Rocky Hill. The National Park Service’s Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail from New England to Yorktown memorializes the historic march.

In the morning of August 28, a Trenton-based group will interpret the First Rhode Island Regiment, a mixed-race American unit that marched the trail and fought at Yorktown. In the afternoon, two re-enactors will interpret the French officers Rochambeau and Major General Francois-Jean de Chastellux, who led the allied French troops. A third re-enactor will interpret George Washington on horseback, beginning at about 1 p.m. more

COWS AND CLIMATE: A herd of Hereford and Devon cattle are now grazing at St. Michaels Farm Preserve in Hopewell, helping keep the earth cool while drawing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sequestering it in soil.

By Anne Levin

For the past few months, 15 cows have been contentedly munching on grasses at a farm preserve in Hopewell Township. When the sun gets too hot, they are shaded by a “cow umbrella” that moves when they move.

This happy group of Hereford and Devon cattle are unwittingly helping to slow climate change, part of a new project of D&R Greenway Land Trust.

“We are so excited to be involved in this research,” said Linda Mead, D&R Greenway CEO and president. “The extreme weather that has been plaguing all of us has been devastating. We need to come up with solutions to the problems with climate change not just here, but all over. The fact that we are able to work with Soil Carbon Partners (SCP) on this project, to demonstrate how this will reduce these extreme situations, is a really important contribution to the scientific thought process.”

This past spring, SCP added a mix of organic materials to 50 acres of farm fields at D&R Greenway’s St. Michaels Farm Preserve. According to a release from D&R Greenway, the dry weight of newly planted forage grasses is 300 percent greater compared to control plots, after only two months.

“Growing more food on less land is essential for combatting climate change, because if food production per acre could be significantly increased, we would no longer need to cut down forests to feed a growing population,” reads the release. “Recent Princeton [University] research proves that forests powerfully cool the planet. The authors, Sara Cerasoli and Amilcare Porporato, recently published their breakthrough research on the cooling effect of forests in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” more

By Anne Levin

For the Orthodox Jewish students at Princeton University, the pandemic presented an especially difficult problem during the last school year. Prayer services have to be done in person, and the campus was closed.

“We were in a bind,” said Ezra Zimble ’22, who is president of Yavneh, the Orthodox student group affiliated with the University’s Center for Jewish Life-Hillel (CJL). “Orthodox law does not let us do virtual services on Shabbat, because we can’t use computers or phones. So we really had a need for in-person services.”

Thanks to the Nassau Inn, Yavneh was able to keep daily and sabbath observances going. “They very graciously offered to host our services, for free, until the end of April,” said Zimble. “It was really kind of them and we are so grateful. Rabbi Julie Roth [CJL executive director and Jewish chaplain at the University] worked really hard to make it happen, and the University worked hard, too. She reached out to a bunch of local businesses, and Lori Rabon [vice president of Palmer Square Management and general manager of the Nassau Inn] got back to her with this amazing offer.”

Services were held in the hotel’s main ballroom, which provided ample room for social distancing. Some 40 students, faculty, and members of Princeton’s Orthodox community attended. “We have active members who are not University students,” said Zimble, speaking from his family’s home outside Boston. “ These are people who live in the area, and because of COVID, they would not have been allowed into campus buildings.” more

By Anne Levin

Princeton Council is putting off a tentative plan to resume in-person meetings next month, instead continuing via Zoom until the rising number of COVID-19 cases goes down, it was announced at the Council meeting Monday, August 23.

The governing body also heard reports on proposed changes to sustainable landscaping, plans for the upcoming Sukkah Village event, and the latest updates on the Witherspoon Street redesign plan, which was followed by a lengthy discussion. Several resolutions were passed and ordinances were considered.

Municipal Administrator Bernie Hvozdovic  delivered the news about in-person meetings. “The numbers were really good at that time,” he said of original plans to resume the gatherings. “But we’ve always understood it would be a fluid situation. So now that the numbers are up, we will continue to meet remotely, at least for the near future.”

Councilman David Cohen said he was interested in having a hybrid of in-person and online meetings in the future. “Nobody else in the state is doing it, but to me that doesn’t conclude the discussion,” he said. Council President Leticia Fraga added that it is important to hear from the Princeton Board of Health before making a final decision.

Councilwoman Eve Niedergang updated Council on proposed changes to regulations on the use of landscaping equipment. Among them are elimination of a registration fee, revised dates for use of gas-powered and electric leaf blowers and chainsaws, and changes in enforcement.  more

By Stuart Mitchner

But the point is to live.

—Albert Camus (1913-1960)

So ends “An Absurd Reasoning,” the four-part essay Albert Camus begins by declaring, “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.” In his penultimate paragraph, Camus suggests, after 45 pages, that “it’s no longer even a question of judging the existential leap,” which “resumes its place amid the age-old fresco of human attitudes.” That leap “is still absurd,” for even “as it thinks it resolves the paradox, it reinstates it intact. On this score, everything resumes its place and the absurd world is reborn in all its splendor and diversity.”

Camus in Islam Qala

On July 9, 2021, a month before the Afghan government fell, the BBC reported the Taliban’s capture of the “key border town” of Islam Qala. Government officials acknowledge “the loss of one of the biggest trade gateways into Iran, generating an estimated $20 million in monthly revenue for the government.”

“Trade gateway” sounds deceptively grand. From what can be seen of Islam Qala in videos of the Taliban takeover, it’s as desolate now as it was when I spent four days stranded there in the late sixties. I was one of a group of Americans “indefinitely detained” on the edge of the 18-mile stretch of no-man’s-land between the Afghan and Iranian borders. It’s more than likely that the rifle-bearing young soldiers guarding the border and keeping a wary eye on us were the future grandfathers of the soldiers trained by or fighting “side by side” with the post-9/11 U.S. Forces.

We were hoping to catch a ride into Iran on one of the numerous west-bound oil tankers, but when we asked customs officers in a building like the one shown in the BBC video, we were told that a “Muslim holiday” had shut everything down; no one would tell us when it would be over. They had confiscated our passports and we were under house arrest, although a “kinder, gentler” phrase would be protective custody. For food and drink we depended on the whims of a shifting crew of uniformed customs office functionaries. We were the only occupants of the ground floor of a one-story building across the highway from the customs headquarters. It was a big open room covered by a faded carpet, no beds, no chairs, no tables, just us and our packs and sleeping bags. I had nothing to read but Camus’s Exile and the Kingdom in a Penguin paperback that had passed through many hands before it landed in mine, and it’s possible that I’ve read the total desolation of Islam Qala into my memory of that space, along with the similarly bleak landscapes described in Camus’s stories. The time would come when waiting without hope made reading Camus in and of itself an act of existential desperation.  more

BACK ON STAGE: Annie Johnson, Shaye Firer, and Erikka Reenstierna-Cates in Amy Seiwert’s “World, Interrupted,” among the works planned for American Repertory Ballet’s upcoming season. (Photo by Eduardo Patino. NYC)

American Repertory Ballet (ARB) has shared details of its 2021-2022 season under the new leadership of Artistic Director Ethan Stiefel.

“It is with great optimism that American Repertory Ballet returns to live performances after this extended intermission,” said Stiefel. “The 2021-2022 season embraces a sense of starting anew and creating fresh and diverse perspectives in ballet. Every program outside of The Nutcracker presents either world premieres, company premieres or works that have never been seen live by our audiences before. ARB invites everyone to come to the theater and once again connect, converse, and reaffirm the value and meaning dance and live performance have in uplifting our spirits and our communities.” more

OUTDOOR ART: The annual Artsbridge Outdoor Art Sale returns to Prallsville Mills in Stockton on Sunday, September 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event features member art at reasonable prices.

The annual Artsbridge Outdoor Art Sale will take place on Sunday, September 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Prallsville Mills, 33 Risler Street, Stockton. The event is rain or shine; if it rains, the exhibit will be held inside the mill. There is no entry fee.

The pandemic has kept many artists busy creating in their studios; this exhibit gives them the opportunity to showcase their hidden treasures. With most works priced under $300, collectors can scoop up fine art at reasonable prices. The works for sale may include paintings, jewelry, sculpture, photography, and crafts. In addition to the art show, visiting the historic Prallsville Mills, along the Delaware River, will make for a lovely Sunday in September.

In an effort to protect artists and patrons, please practice social distancing. Masks are recommended.

For more information about Artsbridge, visit

This painting by Jill Crouch is part of “Recovery,” the Garden State Watercolor Society’s 51st annual juried exhibition, on view by appointment only through October 17 in the Muriel L. Matthews Art Gallery at D&R Greenway Land Trust, 1 Preservation Place, Princeton.

“DOUBLE JONQUIL PROFILE”: This photograph by Charles Miller is part of the “Members Welcome Back Exhibit,” on view September 18 through October 24 at Gallery 14 Fine Art Photography in Hopewell.

After being closed for a year and a half, Gallery 14 Fine Art Photography in Hopewell is ready to reopen with its first exhibit of the year. The “Members Welcome Back Exhibit” will run from September 18 to October 24, with an opening reception scheduled for Saturday, September 18 at 12 p.m. There will also be an artist meet and greet on Sunday, September 19 from 1 to 3 p.m.

The exhibit will feature works by all of Gallery 14’s member artists: John Clarke, Pennington; Alice Grebanier, Branchburg; Larry Parsons, Princeton; Charles Miller, Ringoes; Philip “Dutch” Bagley, Elkins Park, Pa,; Martin Schwartz, East Windsor; Joel Blum, East Windsor; John Stritzinger, Elkins Park, Pa.; Mary Leck, Kendall Park; Barbara Warren, Yardley, Pa.; David Ackerman, Hopewell; and  Bennett Povlow, Elkins Park, Pa.  more

Princeton photographer Lionel Goodman will exhibit 17 pre-pandemic images in a one-person show in the gallery at the Plainsboro Public Library September 1 through October 27.

The photos in “Life Before the Pandemic: Will It Return?” depict scenes that were  commonplace before  the arrival of COVID-19, but can no longer take place.  For instance, three unrelated men sit hip to hip on a park bench. more

CHEF JASON’S TEAM: “We offer fresh, high quality food,” says Chef Jason Dilts, co-owner of Chef Jason at 1275 restaurant in Cranbury. “We want people to come and enjoy a delicious and relaxed dining experience.” He is shown with his staff, from left: Anthony Olvera, Sam Keating, Jason Dilts, “Broccoli” Rob Reddington, and George Gochuico.

By Jean Stratton

Chef Jason Dilts may only be 28 years old, but his knowledge of the restaurant business and his ability in the kitchen belie his years.

Co-owner and chef of Chef Jason at 1275 restaurant, located at 1275 South River Road in Cranbury, he is excited to take on the challenge of this new opportunity. It is the culmination of his years of restaurant experience, and he is optimistic, even while COVID-19 uncertainties linger.

“I started working in DiMattia’s restaurant in Allentown when I was 14,” he recalls. “First, I bussed tables and then the chef let me help him. I knew right away that this was what I wanted to do.”

He loved the creativity of creating dishes and the chance to use the freshest, high quality local and seasonal ingredients. more

WORLD CLASS: Princeton University women’s hockey standouts Sarah Fillier, left, and Claire Thompson proudly wear the uniform of Team Canada as the team got ready to compete in the IIHF Women’s World Championship. Star forward Fillier, who completed her sophomore season for Princeton in 2019-20, and standout defenseman Thompson ’20 are currently skating for Canada at the Worlds in Calgary, Alberta which are slated to end on August 31. Fillier has tallied two goals so far in the tournament with Thompson chipping in three assists as Canada started Pool A action by defeating Finland 5-3 last Friday and then topping the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) 5-1 on Sunday. (Photo by Hockey Canada, provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Justin Feil

Sarah Fillier and Claire Thompson are back to skating for a championship.

For the first time since the Princeton University women’s ice hockey team saw its 2020 season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic after winning the program’s first ECAC Hockey title, the two will be on the same team. This time it’s Team Canada which hosts the IIHF Women’s World Championship from August 20-31 in Calgary, Alberta.

“Honestly it’s so cool,” said star forward Fillier. “To live out your dreams together with someone you’re so close with is so special. And having our 2020 season cut off short, it’s great to have another chance to play with her. It’s awesome.”

Fillier is the youngest player on Canada’s senior team at 21, but she doesn’t feel out of place. She took last year off from Princeton to train in an effort to make the senior team and emerged with one of the world roster spots for Canada out of the country’s centralized roster of 29.

“It’s huge,” said Fillier, a 5’5 native of Georgetown, Ontario, who totaled 114 points on 44 goals and 70 assists in first two seasons for the Tigers, earning AHCA second-team All-America, first-team All-ECAC, and first-team All-Ivy accolades along the way. more

RETURN ENGAGEMENT: Princeton University women’s soccer player Lucy Rickerson controls the ball in a 2019 game. Senior defender Rickerson and the Tigers return to action after their 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns by hosting Loyola (Md.) on August 27 at Class of 1952 Stadium. The Tigers last played a game on November 9, 2019 when they posted a 1-0 win at Penn. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For Sean Driscoll, seeing his Princeton University women’s soccer team take the pitch at Class of 1952 Stadium this Friday evening for its 2021 season opener will be a dream come true.

With the 2020 season having been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, Princeton head coach Driscoll has been looking forward to the opening day matchup against Loyola (Md.) for months.

“It has been 20 some odd months and I am just imagining what that is going to feel like when you haven’t had it in so long,” said Driscoll, whose team last played on November 9, 2019 when it posted a 1-0 win at Penn to finish that season with an 8-6-3 record.

“You take things for granted. You have a game, you have a national anthem and it is oh my gosh I missed it. I can’t wait to see what it feels like again — the nerves that go into it and the passion that is exuded as a result. I am ready for that, I am chomping at the bit to be on the sidelines with a team of kids I am really proud to coach and represent a university I am privileged to be a part of.” more

MAKING A TRI FOR GOLD: Blind athlete Brad Snyder, right, with guide Greg Billington, breaks the tape after winning the 2021 Americas Triathlon Para Championships in late June to book his spot on the U.S. paratriathlon team for the upcoming Tokyo Paralympics. Snyder, who is currently studying for a Ph.D. at Princeton University’s School of Public Policy and International Affairs, will be competing in Tokyo on July 27 (ET). Snyder, who was blinded when he was wounded in Afghanistan in September 2011 while serving as a Navy lieutenant, previously won gold medals in swimming at the 2102 London Paralympics and 2016 Rio Paralympics. (Photo provided by Sara Snyder)

By Bill Alden

As Navy lieutenant Brad Snyder writhed on the ground after being wounded in Afghanistan in September 2011, he realized he might never get up.

“I laid on the battlefield immediately after the blast, knowing that I had been blown up; I was rationalizing that to say there was no way I would have lived through that,” said Snyder.

“I had witnessed a number of other folks in similar situations, none of whom were in good shape afterwards. I thought well I didn’t make it, there is no way I did. So I laid there kind of reflecting on my life. In a way, I had kind of accepted that I was OK with my death, I was OK with dying. I was ready to pass on and do whatever you do after you die.”

Snyder survived and while he was left blind by the blast, he was grateful to be alive.

“My experience is a lot different than what people think,” said Snyder.

“When people, including my family, got the news they dialed right into the loss of vision. But my experience was not a loss of vision, it was the gaining of my life. I didn’t think that I was coming back period.” more

ON THE MOVE: Jake Alu heads to first base in recent action for the Harrisburg Senators, the Double A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. Infielder Alu, a former Princeton Day School standout, was promoted to the Senators after hitting .303 with five homers and 19 RBIs in 39 games for the Wilmington Blue Rocks, a High-A team. Keeping up his solid play at the higher level, Alu is batting .285 in 44 games for the Senators with five homers, 22 RBIs, 23 runs, and 11 doubles. (Photo provided by Jake Alu)

By Bill Alden

Heading into 2020, Jake Alu was primed to move up the ladder for the Washington Nationals organization.

Former Princeton Day School baseball star Alu, who went on to a stellar career for Boston College, made a fine Minor League debut at Auburn in 2019 after being selected by the Nationals in the 24th round of the draft that year.

Displaying his trademark grit and versatility, infielder Alu batted .257 with one homer, 25 RBIs, 13 runs, and five doubles in 39 games for the Short-Season Class A club.

But the pandemic hit in March 2020 and the Minor League campaign was canceled across the country.

Utilizing the work ethic that helped the undersized but scrappy 5’10 Alu become a college star and a Major League draft pick, he resolved to make the most of his time after he was sent home.

“Last year was definitely what you made of it, either you worked really hard or you didn’t,” said Alu. more

August 18, 2021

Community Park Pool provided a welcome respite from the warm weather last Friday. Swimmers share what else they do to beat the summer heat in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Weronika A. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin

Talk of “coming out of the woods,” “flattening the curve,” and “achieving herd immunity” seems to have subsided, replaced by fears that with the Delta variant accelerating its spread, the fall might bring yet another wave of COVID-19 and that the world might be living with this pandemic for a long time.

New Jersey, with almost 60 percent of its population fully vaccinated, and Princeton with 77 percent of residents age 12 and over vaccinated, are not facing the same threatening surges in case numbers that are plaguing Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi, but the outlook for the coming months and beyond is troubling. On Monday Princeton reported 17 new cases of COVID-19 in the previous seven days, 29 new cases in the previous 14 days.

“COVID is something that we all need to understand will be part of our lives forever,  either through discovering and grappling with new variants or through memories of what has occurred throughout the past 17 months,” Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser wrote in an email Tuesday.

He continued, “Restrictions such as mask wearing and social distancing will likely be mobilized when needed. Communities need to swiftly adapt to changing community transmission. I believe COVID discussions will eventually become more commonplace, a bit more understood, which should lead us to a time somewhere down the road that COVID is not taking up everyone’s thoughts and efforts.  It is going to take a tremendous amount of public health resources to get to that point.”

Grosser went on to reflect on the challenges that must be faced as the country adapts to the changing demands of the ongoing pandemic. “My comment on COVID is not meant to sound pessimistic about the outlook we face, particularly in a bleak period of rising COVID-19 infections,” he said.  “It’s more of a statement of preparations for the community. We all need to stand ready to adapt to new infections, increased community transmission, and higher reinstated or newfound precautions we can take to thwart increases in severity of cases.” more

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton is often touted as a safe, secure, low-crime community, but local residents have recently fallen victim to a number of “mailbox fishing” thefts.

The Town Topics Police Blotter for the first week in August tells the tale. On August 1, a man reported that three checks he mailed had been stolen, altered, and cashed. Two days later a woman lost $6,000 after a check she had mailed was stolen and altered. The following day another woman reported a check stolen, altered, and cashed for a $4,000 loss. All three thefts were from mailboxes on Nassau Street.

On the morning of August 6, a woman reported a loss of $4,000 from a check she had mailed that had been stolen and altered, and less than three hours later a man reported that three checks he had mailed at Palmer Square East had been stolen and altered, resulting in a loss of $8,831.

Similar reports of checks mailed, stolen, altered, and cashed were received by the Princeton Police Department (PPD) in July and many more throughout the previous year.    

The perpetrators go to the mailboxes with some type of long string with sticky material on the end, according to PPD Sergeant Thomas Lagomarsino. They drop the line down and pull up random pieces of mail as quickly as possible in order to escape quickly.  The check thieves can “wash” or erase the ink with chemicals found in common household cleaning products and re-write the checks.

Investigations continue, as the PPD collaborates with the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). Princeton Postmaster George Sabu pointed out that the United States Postal Service (USPS) is in the process of changing mailboxes to equip them with an anti-theft device. more

By Donald Gilpin

Recently recognized as the most bike-friendly town in New Jersey, Princeton will be hosting more than 350 cyclists on the weekend of August 28-29, as they ride into town for the night on a two-day, 125-mile spin from New York to Philadelphia.

Sponsored by the East Coast Greenway Alliance (ECGA), this ride, being labeled “from Cheesecake to Cheesesteak,” will support the ECGA with fundraising to help accelerate the development of the ECGA route in New York City, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. About 1,000 miles of the ECGA Maine-to-Florida route is on protected greenways, and the organization is hoping to move the entire route off-road by 2030.

The riders, from ages 15 to 78 with an average age of 50.8, come from 22 different states, with 82 from New York, 76 from Pennsylvania, and 71 from New Jersey.

“This is such a pivotal time for the climate, for building community and making links between people, and for public health in our country,” said ECGA Executive Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano in a phone call Monday from ECGA headquarters in North Carolina. “This ride is partly about helping to transform the way people move so that we’re not driving everywhere. We’re starting to bike and walk and run more, and it’s good for our public health. It’s good for the Earth and it’s good for the local economies that we connect.”

After their Saturday 9 a.m. departure from Liberty State Park, riders in this inaugural event will proceed southwest, with nearly half the route on trails and paths separated from traffic, including the Middlesex Greenway and the D&R Canal Towpath leading into Princeton. 

The riders will be arriving in Princeton throughout the afternoon on Saturday and heading to the Princeton Family YMCA on Paul Robeson Place, where a number of them will camp, with showers and locker rooms available. Others will move on to the Nassau Inn or to other area hotels. YMCA campsite space registrations were already filled by February.

“We’re gearing up to have a good time,” said Bobby Dobra, YMCA membership and healthy living director, who is coordinating this event for the YMCA. “I hope the weather holds up.”

Riders will depart from Princeton on Sunday at 9 a.m., heading for Philadelphia where the ECGA Ride will culminate with closing festivities on Sunday afternoon at Penn Treaty Park on Beach Street.

With a standard registration fee of $150 and a $600 fundraising commitment ($250 and $1,200 for premium registration), the ECGA has already raised more than $250,000 In support of continued Greenway development.

“This will help move the Greenway forward,” said Markatos-Soriano, who studied climate change and energy policy at Princeton University’s School for Public and International Affairs. “We want to upgrade the safety of the route. The D&R towpath could use some upgrades on some of the crossings, and we’ll be building out more trail so that Princetonians and others from the region can enjoy biking up to New York, biking to Philadelphia, or going all the way up to Canada or to Key West.”

Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee Chair Lisa Serieyssol pointed out that this event will encourage more people to look at Princeton’s plentiful biking opportunities, both on- and off-road. The ECGA is looking to make this event an annual event, with next year’s New York-Philadelphia ride planned for May 2022, she said.

“A regular event will bring more attention to biking in the area,” she added. “I’ve also seen more e-bikes, e-scooters, and e-skateboards, and we’ll be seeing a lot more of this in the coming year.”

Serieyssol urged the use of the local transit service in conjunction with bikes or scooters for people to get in and out of town without having to drive. She also predicted an increase in biking this fall as the school year gets underway.

Registration for riders for the ECGA August 28-29 ride is closed, but further details, including opportunities to donate and volunteer, are available at or at Volunteers are needed to help set up the YMCA site and to run it on Saturday, August 28 and Sunday, August 29.

PLAYING IT COOL: Donations of kiddie pools to SAVE, the animal shelter in Skillman, have helped adoptable dogs endure — even enjoy — the summer’s sweltering heat.

By Anne Levin

During the pandemic, animal shelters across the country experienced a unique problem — they nearly ran out of inventory. As the lockdown wore on, the demand for comforting canine and feline companionship grew stronger.

The brief summer reprieve from COVID-19 has reversed things to some degree. Shelters like the Skillman-based SAVE, A Friend to Homeless Animals, are back to seeking “forever homes” for dogs and cats, while raising funds to keep furry residents fed, healthy, and comfortable.

“During the height of the pandemic, from March to July [2020], we cleared our shelter of dogs and most of our cats several times,” said SAVE Executive Director Heather Achenbach. “We can have upwards of 75 cats and we had gotten down to 15. The cats and dogs were coming in. But they were leaving just as quickly. “

Currently, SAVE has about 60 cats in the shelter and 40 in foster homes. Some 22 dogs are being housed at the site, which can accommodate about 100 animals at a time. The nonprofit was founded in 1941 and moved from an overcrowded facility in Princeton to a roomier site in Skillman six years ago.

“In the past two weeks, we’ve definitely seen our numbers going in the right direction,” said Achenbach. “So we’re hopeful that once people get into their fall routines, we’ll see normal adoption numbers again.”

SAVE is picky about who gets to adopt. Potential owners go through a rigorous qualifying process before they get to leave with the pet of their choice. Occasionally, the arrangement doesn’t work out and pets are returned to the shelter.

“I’m happy to say that no one who adopted a pet during the pandemic has called to surrender them,” said Achenbach. “There are people who have fallen on hard times, or found themselves in assisted living or new living arrangements, so it wouldn’t have been surprising.” more

By Anne Levin

The cause of two fires that took place recently in Princeton’s Western Section remain undetermined.

According to Michael Yeh, Princeton’s director of emergency services, an August 3 fire at Lenox House, on the campus of Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS), and a July 31 blaze on Armour Road are still under investigation.

“In these cases, there is no suspicion of anything nefarious,” Yeh said. “We don’t have a real indication of how they started, but there doesn’t appear to be anything suspicious. So both, at this point, are labeled undetermined.”

The July 31 fire began in the garage of a residence on Armour Road, and was reported just after 4 a.m. The house is not habitable, and is being restored.

The fire at Lenox House, located on a corner of Stockton Street and Library Place, destroyed the roof. The blaze was called in to the Princeton Police Department by PTS Security at 5:11 a.m. on August 3. The building, which is home to faculty offices and seminar rooms, is being restored.

No one was injured in the two fires.

Yeh explained that a fire is ruled undetermined if there is no information to support its cause. Unless other details come to light showing different information, the conclusion remains that the cause was undetermined.

By Stuart Mitchner

Flying mother nature’s silver seed to a new home

—from Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush”

According to producers Ronald Moore and David Eick, Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009) is for people who hate space operas. I’ve never been a fan of the genre, but call it what you will, there’s something to be said for an epic  production that weaves one of its central mysteries around Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.” Although BSG ended its celebrated run in 2009, the series is no less timely today, with the 20th anniversary of 9/11 looming, the pandemic (both the human and Cylon races are stalked by viruses), the 1/6 insurrection, and an environment under siege.

Referring to “Watchtower,” Moore says, “It’s something that lives in the collective unconscious of the show, it’s a musical theme that repeats itself. It crops up in unexpected places, and people hear it, or pluck it out of the ether. It’s sort of a connection of the divine and the mortal — music is something that people literally catch out of the air…. Here is a song that transcends many different aeons and cultures  … and was reinvented by one Mr. Bob Dylan.”

As it happens, Moore’s series is a reimagining of the 1978 Battlestar Galactica created by Glenn Larson. The original show, as described by Alan Sepinwall in his book The Revolution Was Televised (2012), “told the story of an Earth-like colonial civilization that suffers a devastating attack from a race of warrior robots called Cylons. The handful of survivors board a ragtag fleet of spaceships, led by the last military vessel standing, the Galactica.” Sepinwall goes on to quote Moore’s criticism of the original series, which was how “this great dark idea became this silly show.” Moore remembers “a haunting moment in the original pilot where we see the crew of Galactica reacting to the news of the death of billions during the Cylon attacks — and then how that emotion is quickly undercut by a trip to a resort planet” where its “roguish” fighter pilot Starbuck (reinvented as a roguish female in Moore’s Galactica) “can gamble and cavort with beautiful women.”

ABC canceled the series after one season. A quarter of a century later, the reimagined Battlestar was only nine weeks away from filming when September 11 changed everything, and, in Sepinwall’s words, “this escapist sci-fi adventure began to feel uncomfortably real.” The eventual result was “the unlikeliest, but best, millennial TV show inspired by 9/11.” Thus its appearance in Sepinwall’s book along with The Sopranos, Deadwood, The Wire, Breaking Bad, 24, and Friday Night Lights, among the 12 landmark series “that changed TV drama forever.” more

CENTENNIAL OF TWO EVENTS: The landmark 1921 musical “Shuffle Along” and the horrific murder of hundreds of Black residents in Tulsa, Okla., occurred just a week apart. The two events are the focus of an upcoming virtual webinar. (Photo courtesy of the Eubie Blake Collection of the Maryland Historical Society)

By Anne Levin

The killing of hundreds of Black citizens in Tulsa, Okla., and the opening of a groundbreaking musical might seem like unlikely partners for a two-day seminar. But “REACTIVATING MEMORY: Shuffle Along and the Tulsa Race Massacre: A Centennial Symposium” links the two events together in a logical way.

On September 9 and 10, The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Music Theater at Princeton University has planned panels, a keynote, and performances to mark  the centennial of the burning of Greenwood, a vibrant Black neighborhood in Tulsa, considered one of the nation’s worst incidents of racial violence in American history. Just a week prior on May 23, 1921, Shuffle Along had debuted in New York, introducing a syncopated jazz score and chorus girls to the American musical and launching the careers of Josephine Baker and Paul Robeson, among others.

Exploring the two events together made sense. The team behind the symposium includes Stacy Wolf, professor of theater and American studies and director of the Program in Music and Theater at the University; and Catherine M. Young, lecturer in writing; as well as tap dance artist and 2021-23 Princeton Arts Fellow Michael J. Love; and members of CLASSIX, a collective of artists and scholars dedicated to expanding classical theater through the exploration of dramatic works by Black writers. more