June 12, 2024

Kid-friendly activities including an instrument petting zoo, musical crafts, a large toe-tap piano, and more were featured at Family Fun Day at the Princeton Festival, held Sunday afternoon on the Colonial Lawn at Morven Museum & Garden. Princeton Festival events continue through June 22. (Photo by Sarah Teo)

“LET FREEDOM RING”: From left, Human Services Commission member Larry Spruill, Civil Rights Commission Chair Fern Spruill, and Councilman Leighton Newlin raise the Juneteenth flag at Monument Hall to commemorate Juneteenth 2023. (Princeton Symphony Orchestra staff photo)

By Donald Gilpin

Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. after the Civil War, is next Wednesday, June 19, and celebrations will be taking place at Monument Plaza and Morven Museum & Garden in Princeton, at various other venues in Central Jersey, and across the nation.

Events are also scheduled in the area for Saturday, June 15, with additional celebrations over the weekend of June 22-23.

It was on June 19, 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, that enslaved African Americans in Texas were told they were free. African Americans have celebrated that day since the late 1800s, and in 2021 Juneteenth, on June 19, officially became a national holiday. The holiday is also called Juneteenth Independence Day, Freedom Day, or Emancipation Day. more

By Anne Levin

Nearly a century ago, it was possible to travel by trolley between Trenton and Princeton. The trip cost 10 cents and took 35 minutes.

The Johnson Trolley, also known as the Princeton-Lawrenceville-Trenton Fast Line, took travelers between Witherspoon Street near Nassau Street and North Willow Street in Trenton. The Trenton-Princeton Traction Company ran the trolley through this corridor from 1902 to 1940.

In recent years, it has been known as the Johnson Trolley Trail, part of the vast regional network of Circuit Trails used for biking, walking, and running. It is the subject of a public Zoom session being held Wednesday, June 12 from 6-8 p.m. by Mercer County and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.

The purpose is to introduce the study and share preliminary routes to be considered that would extend the northern and southern sections of the Johnson Trolley Trail Corridor. Soliciting feedback from the public is a goal of the session. more

BEAUTIFUL AND BESIEGED: Princeton’s beech trees are being threatened with a new beech leaf disease caused by tiny worms called nematodes, which can destroy a tree in less than 10 years. Local arborists and residents are seeking the best ways to combat beech leaf disease. (Shutterstock)

By Donald Gilpin

Just 10 years since the emerald ash borer was first detected in New Jersey, and then proceeded to decimate many thousands of the state’s ash trees, a new threat, beech leaf disease, caused by tiny worms called nematodes spread by birds or the wind, has arrived and is likely to take a devastating toll on the area’s beech trees.

Princeton Municipal Arborist Taylor Sapudar reports sightings on private properties throughout Princeton and in Princeton Open Space. He has heard from private tree care companies that are trying to manage and treat the disease, but he cautions that “it’s still in the early stages,” and a number of questions about the origins and the most effective countermeasures remain unanswered.

“Staff will be monitoring the disease in the open space areas,” Sapudar said. more

CAMPUS CHRONICLER: This photo of workers sorting books at Princeton University is among those on display at “Credit Line, Please,” an exhibit of photos by Elizabeth Menzies, on view at the Seeley Mudd Library through April 2025.

By Anne Levin

From 1936 until the late 1960s, it was rare to find an issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly (PAW) that didn’t feature a photo — usually on the cover — by Elizabeth Menzies. The photographer’s contributions, a selection of which are on display at the University’s Seeley Mudd Library starting Thursday, June 13, represent a visual chronicle of Princeton University through the decades.

“Credit Line, Please” features photos on Mudd Library’s walls and display cases. Curators Phoebe Nobles, Emma Paradies, and Rosalba Varallo Recchia, who work at Princeton University Library, wanted to celebrate the woman whom Princeton history professor Julian Boyd said had “the intellect of a scholar, the heart of a concerned citizen, and the hand of an artist.” more

By Donald Gilpin

With the wrap-up of the June primary, New Jersey voters and candidates are setting their sights on the November general election.

The national races, with Congress, the Senate and the U.S. presidency on the line, appear to be more hotly contested than the local contests.

Democrat Mark Freda is running unopposed for reelection as Princeton mayor, while in their bids for two Princeton Council seats in November, new candidate Brian McDonald and incumbent Leighton Newlin are so far facing no competition.

In the primary race to represent the Democratic Party in the fall election for the New Jersey U.S. Senate seat currently held by Robert Menendez, Andy Kim handily defeated two other candidates, receiving 75 percent of the vote to 15.9 percent for labor organizer and political leader Patricia Campos-Medina, and 9.1 percent for Lawrence Hamm, human rights activist and leader of Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign in New Jersey. Tammy Murphy, wife of Gov. Phil Murphy, entered the primary race for Senate, but ended her campaign in March. more

By Anne Levin

Alexis Peart
(photo by Stephen Laschever)

When Mozart’s comic opera Cosi fan tutte is staged by the Princeton Festival this coming weekend, there is likely to be a substantial cheering section for the mezzo soprano taking the role of Dorabella.

She is Alexis Peart, and her artistic roots in the local area run deep. In fact, the accomplished 26-year-old opera singer cites her first operatic experience as a member of the children’s chorus at the Princeton Festival — in Carmen one year, and La Boheme the next.

Peart grew up in Titusville, in the house where her mother still lives. She studied voice, cello, flute, and violin at Westminster Conservatory of Music. She took classes at Princeton Ballet School. Her family attended Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church.

“Coming back here to perform is a very ‘kismet’ journey, and I’m so excited about it,” Peart said during a telephone interview last week. “With all that I have been doing, I haven’t been able to perform in proximity to where I grew up. I understand that a huge group from the church are coming. And of course, my mom is coming to all three shows.” more

By Stuart Mitchner

Go, seize the day
Wake up and say
This is an extraordinary life ….

Less than a week before Father’s Day, my son and I are talking about the time he fell off the sofa dancing around to Asia’s “Heat of the Moment.” It was mid-May 1983; he was 7. “But it wasn’t the sofa,” he tells me; he’s 48 now. “It was a bunch of cushions I’d piled onto a chair. I didn’t cry, I yelled, I kept jumping around. John Wetton was singing.”

Wetton’s Power

I italicized “John Wetton” to show the 7-year-old’s excitement still alive in the 48-year-old’s voice. In fact, when Wetton sings, the whole world is italicized, there’s no such thing as was; his is the power of is, is, forever is, and the first time I heard him singing Asia’s anthemic “An Extraordinary Life” on the 2008 “come back” album Phoenix, I had to know more about the musician my son had been mourning for the better part of five years. When Wetton sang “Go seize the day, wake up and say this is an extraordinary life,” he had less than a decade to live, after surviving 20 years of heavy drinking and smoking, plus triple-bypass surgery. He died of cancer on January 31, 2017, at 67, same age as my heavy drinking and smoking mother, who also died of cancer and was very much on my mind as Wetton sang of “the smiles and frowns, the ups and downs, of fortune turning … the twists and turns, the lessons learned.”

Asia’s first single, “Heat of the Moment” was a huge hit, spending 26 weeks on the charts while the group’s debut LP was the No. 1 album in the U.S. for 1982, according to Billboard and Cashbox. As Wetton puts it in a 2014 HuffPost interview, “We got let out of the elevator at the penthouse instead of the ground floor.” In a 2011 interview about “Heat of the Moment,” he says that he and keyboardist Geoff Downes wrote the song in an afternoon: “The lyrics are an abject apology for my dreadful behavior towards a particular woman (the woman I would eventually marry, but divorce 10 years later), the chorus began its life as a 6/8 country song, but when Geoff and I started writing together, we moved the time signatures around, and ‘Heat of the Moment’ emerged.” more

By Nancy Plum

New Jersey Symphony ended its 2023-24 Princeton series with a concert of American works featuring two longtime collaborators. Led by Music Director Xian Zhang, Friday night’s performance in Richardson Auditorium included George Gershwin’s immortal Porgy and Bess, as encapsulated into a symphonic suite by noted arranger Robert Russell Bennett, along with Gershwin’s towering Concerto in F Major for Piano and Orchestra with guest piano soloist Daniil Trifonov. Complementing these two American classics was a world premiere of Daniel Bernard Roumain’s orchestral concerto Autumn Days and Nights, which Roumain, the Symphony’s resident artistic catalyst, had dedicated to Zhang.  more

CASHING IN: Rosanne Cash is among the musical artists appearing at McCarter Theatre in the coming cultural season.

McCarter Theatre is now selling tickets for new and returning programs in its 2024-25 season.

Among the events on the schedule are “An Evening with David Sedaris” on October 3; “Encanto: The Sing-Along Film Concert” on October 4; Rosanne Cash with John Leventhal on October 18; The Hot Sardines on November 8; The Moth on November 23; and A Christmas Carol December 3-28.

Empire Records, Ballet Hispanico, and “Duel Reality” are also being presented, among other works. Visit Mccarter.org for specific dates and ticket prices. McCarter Theatre Center is located at 91 University Place.

Vinroy D. Brown Jr.

The Princeton Festival salutes Juneteenth with a “Celebration Honoring Black Choral Music” on Wednesday, June 19 at 7 p.m. on the grounds of Morven Museum & Garden with free community events offered beforehand in partnership with the Municipality of Princeton.

Choral conductor Vinroy D. Brown Jr. of Westminster Choir College leads a choir drawn from the community and anchored by the Capital Singers of Trenton. The program includes remarks by Union Baptist Church’s the Rev. Simeon Spencer and features Robert Ray’s Gospel Mass, with additional choral selections highlighting the spirit of Black music.

In addition to Robert Ray’s Gospel Mass, the program includes Mark Miller’s “I Believe,” Marques L. A. Garrett’s “Sing Out, My Soul,” traditional spirituals, and James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice & Sing.” For more information, visit princetonsymphony.org/festival or call (609) 497-0020.

Vocalists LaKisha Jones, Nova Y. Payton, and Matthew Johnson premiered “The Music of Tina Turner” in front of a full house at the Princeton Festival on Saturday, June 8, with Lucas Waldin conducting the Princeton Symphony Orchestra. The concert was part of the first weekend of the annual music festival, in a performance tent at Morven, which also included performances by opera star Angel Blue with the orchestra, and Sonia De Los Santos. The activities continue through June 22. (Photo by Princeton Symphony Orchestra staff)

MODERN TAKE ON “MIDSUMMER”: Lysander and Hermia (Jawan Julian of Trenton and Tara Eve Mershon of Lambertville), and Helena and Demetrius (Maggie Gronenthal of Lawrenceville and Zach Caruso of Bordentown) in a modern retelling of the Shakespeare classic “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” June 14-23 at the Kelsey Theatre on Mercer County Community College’s West Windsor Campus.

Shakespeare 70 presents William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream June 14-23 at the Kelsey Theatre on Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) West Windsor Campus.

In this updated version of the classic comedy, it’s the 1960s in a college town called Athens, somewhere in America, where Hermia loves Lysander, but her father wants her to marry Demetrius. Helena loves Demetrius, but he seems to have forgotten all about her. The young lovers all run away to the woods outside of Athens, and get caught up in the disputes and trickery of supernatural fairies – who look an awful lot like hippies.   more

“KENTUCKY DERBY HORSE RACING”: This oil painting by Christine Seo is featured in “Capture the Rhythm, her exhibition with Matt DeProspero and Daniel Michael Sierechio, on view through January 12 at Ficus Bon Vivant on Nassau Street.

“Capture the Rhythm,” on view through January 12 at Ficus Bon Vivant, showcases distinctive artworks by Matt DeProspero, Christine Seo, and Daniel Michael Sierechio.

By delving into their personal interpretations of rhythm, these artists open a gateway for viewers to connect with the art on an intimate level — almost as if they are immersed in a dance of colors and shapes themselves. Each stroke tells a story, each hue sings a tune, inviting viewers to experience the essence of rhythm in a visual symphony. more

AWARD-WINNING PROJECT: Members of Princeton Girl Scout Junior Troop 71829 are shown with one of their “Sidewalk Murals for our Community” at Community Park North.

The efforts of Princeton Girl Scout Junior Troop 71829 have culminated in the recent unveiling of their Bronze Award project, “Sidewalk Murals for our Community,” at Community Park North, located between Pettoranello Gardens and Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad. The troop, consisting of 12 fifth-grade girls, brought their vision to life through four sidewalk murals adorned with imagery of bees donning Girl Scout uniforms and uplifting messages inspired by the Girl Scout Law.

The Bronze Award represents the pinnacle of achievement for Girl Scout Juniors, and Troop 71829’s dedication and creativity shine through in their endeavor. Under the guidance of troop leaders Alexia Salinas and Bethany Sierra, the girls embarked, devised, and executed a project aimed at fostering positive change in their community. With the support of the Princeton Recreation Department, along with paint material donations from Home Depot stores in West Windsor, South Brunswick, and Ewing, the troop brought their vision to fruition.


ART TALK: Artist Renata Pugh, whose work is shown here, is the featured speaker for the “Inside the Artist’s Studio” series on Friday, June 14 at 6:30 p.m. at Princeton Makes in the Princeton Shopping Center.

On Friday, June 14 at 6:30 p.m., artist Renata Pugh will be the featured speaker for the “Inside the Artist’s Studio” series at Princeton Makes in the Princeton Shopping Center.  Pugh, a Princeton Makes artist cooperative member, is a multi-disciplinary artist originally from South Brunswick.

Pugh, who earned her BFA at the School of Visual Arts, has worked as a storyboard artist, muralist, and illustrator, but mainly as an art restorer in sculpture restoration. Presently, she is focused on creating stained glass objects with a unique modern design approach utilizing solder as an additional sculptural element.   more

Works by Marlon “7oveChild” Davila are featured in “Phases of the Heart,” on view through June 29 in Solley Lobby Gallery on the second floor at the Arts Council of Princeton, 102 Witherspoon Street. For more information, visit artscouncilofprinceton.org.

FIBER ART: Works by Katie Truk will be featured in “Structures and Constructions in Fiber,” on view June 29 through August 18 at New Hope Arts in New Hope, Pa. An opening night celebration is on Saturday, June 29 from 6 to 8 p.m.

New Hope Arts in New Hope, Pa., will host a juried art exhibition, “Structures and Constructions in Fiber,” June 29 through August 18.

Curated by Rita Romanova Gekht, the exhibit will feature the work of over 32 international and regional artists who have come together to present over 80 original works involving fiber. Artists include Marilyn Cowhill, Rita Romanova Gekht, Bojana Leznicki, Nelly Kouzmina, Susan Martin-Maffei, Michael Ross, Mary-Ann Sievert, and Katie Truk. For the complete list of participating artists, visit newhopearts.orgmore

ACTION JACKSON: Princeton University men’s track star Jackson Shorten competes in the steeplechase last week at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. Sophomore Shorten placed fifth in his preliminary heat on Wednesday to qualify for the final. Two days later, he took 10th in the final, earning second-team All-American honors. Seven other Tiger athletics competed in the NCAA meet including Casey Helm in the men’s discus, Nicholas Bendtsen in the men’s 5,000 meters, Siniru Iheoma the women’s discus, Shea Greene in the women’s javelin, Alexandra Kelly in the women’s long jump, Georgina Scoot in the women’s triple jump, and Tessa Mudd in the women’s pole vault. (Photo provided by Princeton Athletics)

By Bill Alden

As the crème de la crème of the college track world converged last week at the mecca of the sport in the U.S., Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., for the NCAA Championships, the Princeton University squad had eight athletes make the stellar field.

For sophomore star steeplechaser Jackson Shorter, earning a trip to Hayward was the culmination of a superb spring.

“As I look forward to the coming week, I feel an immense sense of gratitude,” said Shorten as quoted on the Princeton sports website. “I am so thankful for the way that I have continued to progress this season, my coach, and my incredible teammates. I would not be where I am today without such an incredible support system. Ahead is an incredible opportunity and I want to make the most of it.” more

HOT SHOT: Princeton High throwing star Sean Wilton, center, enjoys the moment last Saturday with assistant coaches Brandon Willams, left, and Fred Samara after he placed first in the shot put at the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Group 4 state track and field championship meet. Junior Wilton produced a best throw and personal best of 57’5.25 to win the title. Wilton will next be in action when he competes in the NJSIAA Meet of Champions on June 12 at Pennsauken High.

By Justin Feil

Sean Wilton was not satisfied as he stepped into the circle to make his final throw at the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Group 4 state track and field championship meet last Saturday at Franklin High.

The Princeton High junior stood in second place in the boys shot put behind South Brunswick’s Braden Paulmenn, just how he had finished at the sectional meet the week before – second behind Paulmenn. Wilton had thrown a personal-best 56’1 on his second throw of the group meet, but Paulmenn took the lead minutes later when he threw six inches further. Wilton fouled each of his next three throws to set up his last chance to pull ahead. more

SISTER ACT: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse player Lauren Lee defends a foe in a game this spring. Freshman midfielder Lee combined with her older sister, junior attacker Allison Lee, to trigger the Tartan offense. The younger Lee tallied 21 goals and 10 assists while her sister led the way for Stuart with 88 goals and 10 assists. The Tartans posted a final record of 6-12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Enduring some ups and downs this spring as it incorporated a number of young players into its lineup, Stuart Country Day School displayed its growth by ending the season on a high note.

Stuart defeated the Solebury School (Pa.) 16-1 and then topped Gill St. Bernards 14-7 in its season finale on May 20 as the Tartans posted a final record of 6-12.

Stuart first-year head coach Paige Meszaros saw the pair of wins as a culmination of the effort her players put in this spring. more

FULL EFFORT: Princeton Day School baseball player Keegan Fullman fires a pitch in action this spring. Freshman Fullman starred with his arm and bat in his debut campaign, helping PDS go on a late run that saw it win four of its last five games, including a victory in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) South Jersey Non-Public B tournament. The Panthers ended 2024 with a 6-17 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When the Princeton Day School baseball team lost 2-1 to Trenton High in mid-May to suffer its seventh defeat in its last eight games and drop to 2-16, it appeared that the Panthers were heading to a rough homestretch.

But PDS head coach Eric Schnepf saw the loss to the Tornadoes as a step forward.

“That was a really close game,” said Schnepf. “That got us going, we started to play better.” more

SUPPLY CHAIN: Troy Jones puts up a shot for Princeton Supply last year in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Star guard Jones helped Princeton Supply win the league’s best-of-three championship series in 2023 as the squad broke through for its first crown. Princeton Supply is back to defend its title as the league tips off its 35th year with a doubleheader on June 12 at the Community Park courts. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League, its slogan of “#Still Here” is ringing true in a big way this week as the league is tipping off its 2024 campaign with nine squads ready to hit the Community Park courts.

With the venerable hoops circuit entering its 35th year, Rec Department executive director and league commissioner Evan Moorhead is proud of its staying power.

“It is a lot of the same faces from last year, there are a lot of returners which is good,” said Moorhead, reflecting on the 2024 campaign with which will start with a doubleheader on June 12 at Community Park. “There is good loyalty to the league, guys come back, year in, year out. We know them, they know us. It is always a big one when you are on the 5s or the 0s. It is another nice milestone to reach considering where we started in the summer of 1989 and here we are in 2024. We are still going strong, it is still a popular league and still drawing fans. It is one of the top leagues, if not the top outdoor league, in the area. A lot of leagues have moved inside.” more

June 5, 2024

School of Rock Princeton was among the musical performers at the fourth annual Princeton Community Pride Picnic on Friday evening at Hinds Plaza. Attendees share what brought them to the event in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Sarah Teo)

By Donald Gilpin

May was Bike Month, with National Ride a Bike Day, Bike to School Day, and Bike to Work Day and Week; Monday, June 3 was World Bicycle Day; and Princeton continues to celebrating all forms of biking, with many different organizations and individuals working to make cycling increasingly accessible and safe in the town.

“Biking is a great way to get around,” notes Sustainable Princeton on its website. “It’s lower impact than running, faster than walking, and more exciting (and climate-friendly) than sitting in a car. More and more people are catching onto this, using bikes to commute to work, run errands, and exercise.”

“The biking community is growing, and I think it will continue to grow, and that’s a good thing,” said Sustainable Princeton Executive Director Christine Symington, who does not have a car and gets around by bike. more

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