May 31, 2023

Presented by Spirit of Princeton, the annual Princeton Memorial Day Parade returned on Saturday morning with participants, including the Colonial Musketeers Fife and Drum Corps, shown here, marching down Nassau Street to Monument Plaza. The parade was followed by a ceremony at Monument Hall. Attendees discuss their Memorial Day weekend plans in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Sarah Teo)

By Donald Gilpin

In his commencement address at Princeton Stadium on Tuesday, Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber put out an urgent plea for graduating seniors and grad students to stand up for equality, diversity, freedom, justice, and love.

Claiming “the best weather for commencement in the history of Princeton University — and after what you’ve been through in the past four years you deserve it,” Eisgruber awarded degrees to 1,263 undergraduates in the Class of 2023, plus two from previous classes, and 679 graduate students. Thousands more families, friends, and guests in the stadium cheered on the graduating seniors and advanced degree recipients at Princeton’s 276th commencement.

In his words to the graduates, Eisgruber noted “a movement afoot in this country right now to drive a wedge between the constitutional ideals of equality and free speech,” as he emphasized the necessity of caring simultaneously about equality and open debate on public issues. He condemned “educational gag orders” recently introduced by state legislatures restricting the teaching of information about inequalities within American society. more

By Anne Levin

At its Zoom meeting on May 24, Princeton’s Zoning Board listened to extensive testimony regarding Sakrid Coffee’s proposal to install a roasting facility in the coffee shop it wants to open at 300 Witherspoon Street. This left time for only a few of the more than 50 members of the public in attendance to offer comment on the controversial proposal, leading the Zoning Board to put off the vote until the next meeting on June 28 at 7:30 p.m.

Last week’s discussion had itself been carried over from the Zoning Board’s previous gathering in April. At issue are the potential smells, noises, and environmental effects of the proposed coffee roasting facility, on residents of the neighborhood, and the Community Park Elementary School.

Neighbors have expressed specific concerns about the volatile organic compound diaceytl, which shows up in the roasting process and in many other foods. Richard Ludescher, a professor emeritus from Rutgers University and a consultant in the food science industry, testified that all plants, especially their flowers, emit diaceytl, as do many cooked foods. The compound poses a risk only with very long-term, chronic exposure, such as for those in the food manufacturing industry. The levels at the proposed roasting operation — about 2.5 hours a week — would be much lower and barely discernible, he said. more

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton voters will go to the polls on June 6 — or June 2, 3, or 4 for early voting—to select Democratic or Republican candidates to run in the November general election. On the primary ballot are candidates for state Senate, New Jersey General Assembly, Mercer County executive, county sheriff, Board of County Commissioners, and Princeton Council.

Though the primary races in Princeton this year are all uncontested, the fall election promises several highly competitive contests — not including the Council positions, where only Democrat incumbents David Cohen and Leticia Fraga, and no Republicans, have filed for two open spots. Democrats have run unopposed in Princeton Council elections since 2018.

There is an early voting site at the Princeton Shopping Center, one of seven in the county, open Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Voters who wish to vote by mail and have not yet applied can go in person to the county clerk’s office in Trenton before 3 p.m. on June 5. Voted ballots may be returned to any drop box location within Mercer County by 8 p.m., June 6,  returned to the Mercer County Board Elections at 930 Spruce Street in Lawrence, or mailed in by the same deadline. more

FILMS FROM NEAR AND FAR: “Seven Square Miles,” a documentary on the Trenton Violence Reduction Strategy, is part of the eclectic lineup of films at Mill Hill Playhouse June 9-11.

By Anne Levin

Following a few stops and starts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trenton Film Festival is back to full strength at Mill Hill Playhouse next weekend. With 51 features — documentaries, experimental films, live action, and animated shorts — in 11 separate programs, the June 9-11 event touches on an impressive range of subjects and styles. more

By Anne Levin

When stalking in the woods, hunters wear orange to protect themselves. On Friday, June 2, sponsors of an event on the plaza outside Witherspoon Hall are hoping a lot of people will show up wearing orange, to symbolically protect themselves and others from the gun violence that is rampant throughout the country.

The 1:30 p.m. gathering is part of a national effort designed to honor those affected by gun violence and elevate efforts to prevent it. Mayor Mark Freda, Princeton Police Sergeant Dan Federico, and Princeton resident Portia Wong, of the New Jersey chapter of Moms Demand Action, will be on hand to deliver a proclamation and talk about how to help address the issue. more

By Donald Gilpin

With a recent grant from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Regional Innovations Engines program, Princeton University will be leading a consortium researching economic and technological advancements in the field of photonics. Also known as lightwave technology, the field includes lasers, optical fibers, and light-based innovations. 

The collaboration, co-led by Rowan University, includes universities and community colleges, photonics companies, statewide workforce development programs, and technology accelerators and incubators — all advancing research and translating that research into startup companies and economic opportunities.  more

By Stuart Mitchner

Walt Whitman is America.

—Ezra Pound

I am as bad as the worst, but thank God I am as good as the best.

  —Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

Walt Whitman was as good as the best when nursing and “being there” for wounded and dying soldiers from both sides of the Civil War. On May 31, 1865, his 46th birthday (today is his 204th), he sat beside a 21-year-old rebel soldier, “who lies a good deal of the time in a partial sleep, but with low muttering and groans — a sleep in which there is no rest. Powerful as he is, and so young, he will not be able to stand many more days of the strain and sapping heat of yesterday and to-day. His throat is in a bad way, tongue and lips parch’d. When I ask him how he feels, he is able just to articulate, ‘I feel pretty bad yet, old man,’ and looks at me with his great bright eyes.”

Whitman expands on what he means by “the worst” in Democratic Vistas (1871), where he finds “the problem of the future of America is in certain respects as dark as it is vast. Pride, competition, segregation, vicious wilfulness, and license beyond example, brood already upon us….Flaunt it as we choose, athwart and over the roads of our progress, loom huge uncertainty, and dreadful, threatening gloom. It is useless to deny it. Democracy grows rankly up the thickest, noxious, deadliest plants and fruits of all — brings worse and worse invaders …. We sail a dangerous sea of seething currents, cross and under-currents, vortices — all so dark, untried — and whither shall we turn?” more

“CABARET”: Theatre Intime, CJL Play, and Princeton University Players have staged “Cabaret.” Directed by Andrew Duke ’25, the musical was presented May 25-28 at the Hamilton Murray Theater. Above: performers at the Kit Kat Klub, headlined by Sally Bowles (Juliette Carbonnier, third from left in the front row) exemplify the hedonistic decadence of pre-Nazi Berlin. (Photo by Jazmin Morales)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Set in Berlin at the time of the Nazis’ rise to power, Cabaret largely takes place at the decadent Kit Kat Klub. The musical follows an American author’s odyssey in Berlin as he watches political events unfold, as well as his complicated relationship with the British headlining performer of the nightclub.

Cabaret (1966) has a book by Joe Masteroff. It is adapted from John Van Druten’s play I Am a Camera (1951), which in turn is based on Goodbye to Berlin (1939), a semi-autobiographical novel for which author Christopher Isherwood drew on his experiences in the Weimar Republic, as well as his relationship with cabaret singer Jean Ross.  more

THE LIFE OF JESUS: The famous musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” comes to the State Theatre June 9-11. (Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade)

State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick presents the reimagined 50th Anniversary tour of Jesus Christ Superstar for four performances on Friday, June 9 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, June 10 at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, June 11 at 2 p.m. This production is a fast paced 90-minutes without intermission. Tickets range from $29-$79.  more

On Sunday, June 11 at 5:30 p.m., the Boheme Opera NJ Guild presents “Some Enchanted Evening — Special Gems from Opera & Broadway” at Hopewell Valley Vineyards, 46 Yard Road, Pennington.

Baritone Charles Schneider and soprano Samantha Blossey, with Sandra Milstein Pucciatti at the piano, will offer works from opera and Broadway. Joseph Pucciatti, artistic director of Boheme Opera NJ, will give a special introduction. Appetizers and pizza will be provided. Hopewell Valley Vineyards wines will be available for purchase by the glass or bottle, along with non-alcoholic beverages. 

Schneider has performed over 30 roles throughout the country, including The Bonze in Boheme Opera NJ’s 2023 production of Madama Butterfly. He is on the voice faculties of Westminster College of the Arts at Rider University and The Lawrenceville School, and he conducts the Liberty Corner Presbyterian Church Choir. more

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: Red Tulip Gallery, a cooperative of artists from Bucks County, Pa., and nearby counties in New Jersey, is marking its 10th anniversary with special promotions through June 10. The gallery will host a wine and cheese reception on Friday, June 9, from 4–7 p.m.

Red Tulip Gallery, in New Hope, Pa., will celebrate its 10th anniversary on June 10 with special promotions. The gallery invites anyone who stops in at the gallery through June 10 to enter their name in a drawing for gift cards. No purchase is necessary. The drawing will take place at 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 10; the prizes will be gift cards for $25, $50, and $100, redeemable at the Red Tulip Gallery, 19C West Bridge Street, New Hope, Pa. Winners will be notified by email and need not be present to win.  more

“WISHES IN THE WIND”: This watercolor by Gail Bracegirdle is featured in “A Creative Journey,” on view June 8 through July 2 at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville. The exhibit will also highlight watercolors by Carol Sanzalone.

To honor the late artist Gail Bracegirdle, “A Creative Journey,” a special featured gallery exhibit with Carol Sanzalone, will be showcased June 8 through July 2 at the Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville. Inspired by images in nature, and the patterns of life, the exhibit highlights a variety of creative techniques by two watercolor artists. more

A Sweetbay magnolia bloom is shown in the riparian restoration site at Princeton’s Billy Johnson Mountain Lake Preserve. “Thanks to those who donated trees,” said Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS) Director of Stewardship Anna Corichi. “Take a walk at the preserve and enjoy.” To donate a tree, visit

“ARTIST OF THE COMMON MAN”: Works by Thomas Eakins will be on view June 10 through June 24 at the Pedersen Gallery in Lambertville. An opening reception is on June 10 from 6 to 8 p.m.

The Pedersen Gallery in Lambertville presents “Thomas Eakins: Artist of the Common Man,” June 10 through June 24. An opening reception is on June 10 from 6 to 8 p.m.  more

“CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPUR”: This gouache, pen, and ink work by Sarah Kaizar is featured in “Sarah Kaizar: RARE AIR,” on view through November 5 at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa.

The James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., now presents “Sarah Kaizar: RARE AIR,” an exhibition featuring original gouache and ink artwork from the book RARE AIR: Endangered Birds, Bats, Butterflies, & Bees. An illustrated work about diminishing flighted species and citizen science, it is authored by Sarah Kaizar with writing by A. Scott Meiser, to be published by Mountaineer Books in September. more

HELPING HANDS: “It’s very important to provide fresh seasonal food to families who need it. This is our mission. Our primary focus is for families with children in Princeton Public Schools.” Shown are the team members who guide and operate the Princeton Mobile Food Pantry. From left are Wendy Wilton, Debbie Bronfeld, Liliana Morenilla, Dafna Kendal, Shilpa Pai, Sharon Litvinsky, Mandy Arshan, Amy Lansky, and Jennifer Lea Cohan. Missing from the photo is Jackie Swain.

By Jean Stratton

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, that’s the only thing that ever does.”

—Margaret Mead

How to translate that conviction into action? Some people see a need and don’t know what to do about it. Some are unaware of the need. Others see the need and find ways to address it.

The last statement is the story of the Princeton Mobile Food Pantry (PMFP) and the remarkable team that created it, and continues to make it happen.

In 2007, Princeton resident and volunteer Liliana Morenilla became aware of students who did not have enough to eat.

“I was volunteering at Johnson Park Elementary School translating for Spanish-speaking parents,” she explains. “There was constant mention of food insecurity in their homes. One day, I had to separate two little ones who were fighting for a granola bar. What started the fight was that the kids never had snacks from home, and were hungry.” more

OH HENRY: Henry Byrd takes the field last fall in his senior season for the Princeton University football team. Byrd, a recent Princeton grad who emerged as a force on the offensive line for the Tigers, recently signed with the Denver Broncos of the NFL as an undrafted free agent. The 6’5, 310-pound Byrd, a First-Team All-Ivy League performer in 2021 and 2022, has already attended the first rookie mini-camp and is excited about the chance to fit in with the Broncos, who have a new head coach in Sean Payton, a previous Super Bowl winner. (Photo by Sideline Photos, provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Justin Feil

Henry Byrd bought several team hats to be prepared, but 10 minutes after going undrafted, it was the Denver Broncos hat that he wore proudly after signing as an undrafted free agent.

“Once I grabbed the right hat, the Broncos hat, that’s when it hit me — it’s real and I play in the NFL,” said recent Princeton University graduate Byrd, a native of Nashville, Tenn. “You kind of know it’s going to happen and it’s not a surprise by any means but that initial wave of emotion, it’s not something you can prepare for.” more

BRONZE AGE: The Princeton University women’s open crew varsity 8 displays its form in a race earlier this spring. Last weekend, Princeton’s top boat took third in the grand final at the NCAA Rowing Championships on Cooper River in Pennsauken. The bronze medal effort helped the Tigers finish third in the team standings at the competition behind champions Stanford and runner-up Washington. (Photo by Ed Hewitt/Row2k, provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Bill Alden

Lori Dauphiny will tell you that a key to the success of her Princeton University women’s open crew program over the years has been the effort put in by all of the rowers in the squad from top to bottom. Last weekend at the NCAA Rowing Championships on Cooper River in Pennsauken, that depth was on display as Princeton finished third in the team standings at the competition with 113 points behind champions Stanford (129 points) and runner-up Washington (120). The Tiger varsity 8 placed third in the grand final with the second varsity 8 taking fifth and the varsity 4 coming in sixth. more

IN PURSUIT: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Riley Devlin goes after the ball in a game this spring. Last Thursday, junior midfielder Devlin tallied four goals in a losing cause as 10th-seeded PHS fell 12-7 at seventh-seeded Middletown South in the first round of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) North Jersey Group 3 tournament. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 7-12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Riley Devlin was determined to set a good example this spring for her younger teammates on the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team.

With PHS losing a stellar group of seniors from its 2022 squad to graduation, junior midfielder Devlin knew that she had to shoulder more responsibility.

“As a sophomore, I laid back under the seniors last year, so it was a big adjustment,” said Devlin. “We have a really young team, not a lot of seniors. I was really trying to teach them and coach them. The freshmen are really talented — they definitely made progress.” more

BIG BEN: Princeton High baseball player Ben Walden connects with the ball in game this spring. Junior Walden emerged as key player for PHS this season, helping the Tigers go 6-16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Starting the last week of the regular season with a bang, the Princeton High baseball team rallied to defeat Bound Brook 10-9.

“That was a good win, especially at that point because we knew we still had a shot to get into the state tournament,” said PHS head coach Dom Capuano, whose squad scored a run on the bottom of the seventh inning to pull out the victory. “It was a tough one. It was back and forth and to finish that off was good.”

Unable to build on that triumph, the Tigers fell 17-1 to Seneca on May 16 and 10-0 to Franklin two days later as they failed to make the state tournament and ended the spring with a 6-16 record. more

POWER PITCHING: Princeton Day School baseball player Dylan Powers fires a pitch in recent action. Sophomore Powers proved to be a bright spot for PDS with his arm and bat as the Panthers went 1-22 this spring. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It would have been understandable if Eric Schnepf got discouraged as the Princeton Day School baseball team went 1-22 this spring in his first season at the helm of the program.

Schnepf, though, will have fond memories of his debut campaign notwithstanding the win-loss record.

“It was great; when kids share your love of the game and want to compete, it makes it easy,” said Schnepf. “I was lucky to have a good group who gave me their all. They wanted to be challenged, they wanted me to hold them to a higher standard. When they met that level, I let them know and when they didn’t reach that level, I let them know. They can take criticism, they wanted to be coached. When they play well, they motivate themselves. They inspire the guys around them. I had a blast. I hope the kids had as much fun as I did.” more

ABBY ROAD: Hun School girls’ lacrosse player Abby O’Brien heads upfield in a game this spring. Senior attacker and Stevens Institute of Technology-bound O’Brien scored a team-high 66 points this spring on 50 goals and 16 assists to help Hun go 10-6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After the Hun School girls’ lacrosse team fell 8-7 in overtime to Notre Dame in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals, the squad could have got through the motions as it ended the season with two regular season contests.

Instead, Hun saved its best for last, topping Robbinsville 13-9 on May 10 and then defeating Princeton High 18-11 in its season finale on May 16. more

May 24, 2023

Players on the Hun School boys’ lacrosse team celebrate after they defeated Allentown 5-3 in the Mercer County Tournament championship game last Thursday evening at Hopewell Valley High. The win gave Hun its second straight MCT title and left it with a final record of 12-4. For more details on the game, see this article. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Donald Gilpin

Rather than resolving the issue, the five-hour, standing-room-only Donaldson hearing on May 15, at which the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education (BOE) voted 8-2 to support the superintendent’s dismissal of Princeton High School (PHS) Principal Frank Chmiel, has set off a flurry of angry responses — from parents and students, from community supporters of Chmiel and of the BOE and superintendent, and from Chmiel himself.

“I have not given up the fight,” Chmiel wrote in a May 18 letter to the PHS Parents Discussion Group, and he accused Superintendent Carol Kelley of committing actions that were “illegal and criminal.”

Chmiel thanked the parents’ group for their strong support and went on to claim that faculty and staff had been “silenced” by the superintendent and discouraged or reprimanded for speaking in his behalf.  more