August 10, 2022

A Bubble Show was among the many activities at The Watershed Institute’s Butterfly Festival on Saturday. Participants share what they learned at the event in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Sarah Teo)

By Donald Gilpin

The first confirmed case of monkeypox in New Jersey was reported on June 18, and since then the Princeton Health Department has received more than 300 calls and emails, and has responded to residents’ concerns about how the virus is spread, reviewed possible exposures to identify risk, and answered questions about vaccination sites and eligibility.

As of Tuesday, August 9, the New Jersey Department of Health had reported 264 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the state, mostly in northern counties. There were just seven cases in Mercer County.

Last Thursday, the White House declared the outbreak a national health emergency, following the World Health Organization’s declaration in July of monkeypox as a global health emergency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 8,934 cases in the United States as of Monday, August 8, with New York reporting the highest total at 1,960 cases. The U.S. has the highest number of monkeypox infections in the world.

“Although the risk of monkeypox in Princeton is thought to be low, we are continuing to urge everyone to be knowledgeable about the disease and how it is spread,” wrote Princeton Deputy Administrator for Health and Human Services Jeff Grosser in an August 9 email. When asked whether any cases have been reported in Princeton, Grosser stated that, due to the limited number of cases, municipalities do not report case numbers out of concern for protecting individuals’ health and private health information.

“Monkeypox spreads in different ways,” Grosser wrote. “It can spread from person to person through direct contact with rash, scabs, or bodily fluids. It can also spread by face-to-face contact through respiratory droplets, or during close contact such as kissing, cuddling, or sex.” more

By Anne Levin 

At a meeting Monday evening, Princeton Council heard a presentation on a new town-wide, cart-based, pick-up program for landfill waste and organics. The proposal, which is for residents, aims to reduce fees paid at landfills while lowering the town’s carbon footprint.

Council also approved measures allowing developers to proceed with obtaining financing for two inclusionary housing projects at Princeton Shopping Center.

Consultant Wayne DeFeo, who has been advising the municipality on trash and recycling issues, spoke, as did Sustainable Princeton’s executive director Christine Symington. DeFeo said the proposed five-year waste removal program would not replace the current system of every-other-week recycling pickup. But the weekly collection of trash would be more efficient. Residents would be issued a 64-gallon standardized can, or 32-gallon if requested. These standardized containers can be picked up mechanically, allowing for automated or semi-automated collections and lower labor costs.

Thanks to the increased volume of residential trash because of the pandemic, and a shrinking labor pool, costs for waste pickup have soared in recent years. “More volume at the curb means more people are needed to pick it up, more trucks, and higher costs,” DeFeo said. “Labor is a nightmare in the solid waste industry right now.”

In New Jersey, costs have risen to about 40 to 150 percent higher than what they were, DeFeo added. “In a recent bid in Atlantic City, they were thrilled to only receive a 45 percent increase,” he said. “They took measures to contain the increase in price, and that’s what is being suggested here.”

In one option, residents would make a reservation for the collection of bulk waste. In surveys done in other towns, DeFeo said, it was determined that a relatively low percentage of households put out bulk waste each week. Collecting bulk waste from households that have scheduled them, rather than going down every block past every residence, would make the operation much more efficient. more

“THE MEMORY OF OUR ANCESTORS”:On August 5, the opening day of the Joint Effort Safe Streets celebrations, 18 vinyl banners, depictions of Romus Broadway’s photo collages of the people of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, were mounted on utility poles around the community. Joint Effort Safe Streets continues through Sunday, August 14 with a variety of events.  (Photo courtesy of the Arts Council of Princeton)

By Donald Gilpin

At last Friday’s opening reception for 2022 Joint Effort Safe Streets, Princeton Councilman Leighton Newlin was remembering Romus Broadway, photographer, historian, and one of the “ancestors” to whom the nine-day Joint Effort celebration is dedicated.

“He is resting in peace, and he must have a big smile on his face to know that he has brought all of us together tonight to look at his work and to celebrate ourselves and the town of Princeton,” said Newlin, referring to Broadway and his collection of photo montages depicting many of the residents of the neighborhood.

Eighteen two-by-four-foot vinyl banners, digital depictions of Broadway’s collages, were mounted on poles in the Witherspoon-Jackson (W-J) neighborhood on Friday, August 5 as the culmination of a project by the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP), in collaboration with Princeton University, the Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society (WJHCS), and the Witherspoon-Jackson Neighborhood Association.

Many other W-J ancestors, along with contemporary organizations and individuals, were honored at Friday’s opening ceremonies at Studio Hillier on Witherspoon Street, with special recognition for WJHCS co-founder and neighborhood historian Shirley Satterfield. “It takes one person who cares, one person who stood up, one person who said, ‘My history, our history, this community’s history is important,’” said Joint Effort Founder and Event Coordinator John Bailey in honoring Satterfield. more

MARKING A MILESTONE: Local artist Anita Benarde, shown in her garage-turned-studio at Canal Pointe, fondly recalls “The Pumpkin Smasher,” the much-loved children’s book she wrote and illustrated 50 years ago while her children were growing up in Princeton. (Photo by Bob Harris)

By Anne Levin

When artist Anita Benarde came up with the children’s book The Pumpkin Smasher back in 1972, she was working from experience. Benarde didn’t have to look further than her family’s Cuyler Road neighborhood to come up with the story and illustrations about a nocturnal mischief-maker who destroys all of the Halloween pumpkins in town.

The town in the book is Cranbury, but the inspiration was clearly Princeton. “There was an actual pumpkin smasher,” said Benarde, who sounds much younger than her 96 years in a telephone interview. “It’s true. We never found out who it was. We thought it was a boy who had walked around the neighborhood on crutches, but we never did anything about it.”

The book was a hit — so much so that Benarde’s original illustrations, proofs, editor’s notes, and correspondence she had with readers landed in the collection of the Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University. A smaller paperback version of the book is currently available from Amazon.com, and hardcover editions have become collectors’ items.

In the preface to the paperback, which was published a decade ago, Benarde wrote that she decided to reissue the book after her grandson had done a Google search. “What he found amazed him,” she wrote. “For so many people, The Pumpkin Smasher was a precious childhood memory ‘big time’ and they wanted it for their children. Zach’s search also showed that many across the country had grown up reading it with their parents, or had heard a teacher read it to them. After hearing about the interest, I was shocked. I had to reissue it.”

Benarde grew up in Brooklyn. “My family was very musical, very theater-conscious and artistic,” she said. “When we first moved to Princeton, I was very conscious of McCarter Theatre and the programs they had there, especially for kids. That was fantastic. Also, I was a member of the Princeton Artist Alliance.” more

By Anne Levin

By this time each summer, bushes and shrubs tend to be at their fullest. While these lush landscapes are aesthetically pleasing, those located at street corners and intersections can create blind spots for motorists that cause serious or fatal accidents.

To combat the problem, Princeton’s Engineering Department is asking some homeowners to trim back the bushes and hedges on their properties. The municipality recently sent a letter to property owners whose corner locations are encroaching into the municipal right-of-way and obstructing sight lines. Those who receive the letter have seven days to trim back or remove the hedges that are causing the problem.

If they don’t comply, “then the Princeton Department of Public Works will remove or trim the hedge,” reads the letter. “Also in accordance with section 22-7 [of the Princeton Code], if Princeton performs this work you as the owner will be billed for the cost of such work and will be required to reimburse the municipality within 60 days of its completion and receipt of such bill.”

Keeping sightlines clear is one goal of the Vision Zero Task Force, which was formed two years ago to work on specific improvements to roadway design standards, traffic signal policies, street lighting policies, and other ways to eliminate the pedestrian deaths and serious injuries caused by traffic accidents. Princeton is the third community in New Jersey to have a Vision Zero program. more

By Donald Gilpin

Sarah Moore
(Courtesy of PPS)

As students and teachers return to school for the start of the fall term next month, there will be a new supervisor of elementary education in a new budget-neutral position, a number of administrators in new roles, and new classroom and collaborative learning areas — built with funds from the 2018 referendum — just completed at Princeton High School (PHS).

Board of Education President Dafna Kendal described some of the advantages of the four classrooms and the collaborative learning space, which is on schedule to welcome students in the fall as soon as furniture shipments arrive.  “It’s beautiful,” she said. “Everything is on target and the design is timeless, with a lot of light. My favorite part is the windows. There’s so much light in the rooms, and I think that’s important.”

The collaborative space is a response to requests from teachers and students for more gathering places. “This will enable large groups to get together, whether it’s to work on a project or hold a discussion or listen to a speaker,” said Kendal.  “And we didn’t have to add to the footprint of the high school. We just built this over the gym. It’s a new space, but it’s cost effective in how we added those rooms.”

The new space, with a capacity of 100 to 120 students, is likely to serve a variety of purposes for many different parts of the PHS community. “They’re calling it a dance studio, but it’s also going to be used for yoga and meditation and things like that,” said Kendal. “Another thing that came out is that we need more space for athletic teams to practice and get together.”

The new construction provides versatile flooring and space, Kendal said, to accommodate dance, a practice area for the fencing team, and a wellness studio.  With renovation funds from the referendum PHS was able to complete other projects last year, including the Tiger Cafe and the revamping and expansion of the guidance area.

Kendal emphasized the importance of improvements that will address social-emotional needs at PHS. She added that, elsewhere in the district, the completion of the new roof at Littlebrook Elementary School will soon be a welcome accomplishment. more

By Stuart Mitchner

When I think about the people who have questioned my mother’s choice to have me the way she did, or the people who have asked me if I was ever angry with her, it’s easier than ever to answer no, rejecting the antiquated assumption that a real father is a necessary element in a real family.

—Nabil Ayers, from My Life in the Sunshine

Today I’m writing about three admirable single mothers I found in the memoirs of a president and two musicians. If you look online for novels or stories with a single mother as heroine, you’ll find depressing results, with cover images often featuring men out of Harlequin Romance fantasies.

I tried upping the word-choice ante to single mother protagonists in classic literature and came up with the likes of Medea and Mrs. Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility. Without doing any research on the subject, my first thought is of Eliza fleeing across the icy river with her infant son in Uncle Tom’s Cabin — which seems a fitting analogy for women dealing with a post Roe v. Wade reality.

Ann 

In Dreams from My Father (1995), Barack Obama recalls going with his mother Ann and half-sister Maya to the film Black Orpheus, which Ann saw when she was 16, her first foreign movie and, as she told her children, “the most beautiful thing” she’d ever seen. Obama found the film patronizing, with its “black and brown Brazilians” singing and dancing “like carefree birds in colorful plumage,” but when he looked over at his mother, he was touched by the sight of her wistful face “lit by the blue glow of the screen.” In that moment he felt as if he were “being given a window into her heart, the unreflective heart of her youth,” a white middle-class girl from Kansas waking to  the promise of another world: “warm, sensual, exotic, different” — where she would meet, marry, and bear the child of an exchange student from Kenya.

The former president celebrated his 61st birthday last week by naming a new installation at the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago the Ann Dunham Water Garden. In a release, he pictures his mother, who died in 1995, “sitting on one of the benches on a nice summer afternoon, smiling and watching a bunch of kids running through the fountain,” which he thought “would capture who she was as well as just about anything else.” more

By Nancy Plum

Remembrance seemed to be the order of the day this past weekend at a concert paying tribute to both a renowned composer and the choral tradition of Westminster Choir College. Comprised of Westminster alumni and conducted by Westminster professor and conductor James Jordan, the professional vocal ensemble The Same Stream Choir returned to Princeton last Saturday night to present a concert honoring the legacy of composer and longtime Choir College friend Roger Ames. The ensemble was to perform at Bristol Chapel on the former Westminster campus; when the Chapel’s air conditioning system chose not to cooperate, the concert was relocated to All Saints’ Church in Princeton, an acoustically perfect venue for the chorus. The 20 members of The Same Stream ensemble sang a number of choral pieces and opera excerpts by Ames, as well other works which fit the evening’s theme of healing and hope.

Although Saturday’s concert focused on Roger Ames, the performance began with another piece in the same vein of faith and optimistic prayer. Latvian composer Peteris Vasks’ 2013 The Fruit of Silence, based on “the voice of Mother Teresa,” immediately set the choral tone for the evening. James Jordan’s choruses exemplify everything Westminster Choir College stands for in musical excellence — precise tuning, well-blended harmonies, and careful attention to text, and The Same Stream Choir sang Vasks’ chordal meditation as a clean and well-tuned expanse of sound, with the text well phrased and articulated. Same Stream Associate Conductor Corey Everly provided sensitive and adept piano accompaniment throughout the evening, beginning with this piece.

In a century when music can come across as overcomplicated and inaccessible, the simple melodic lyricism of Roger Ames’ compositional style seems to take audiences to a new comfort zone. Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Music for one of his extended choral pieces, Ames had a long history of drawing audiences into an ethereal and reassuring listening space through works based on imaginative and inspirational themes or by setting meaningful texts in a thought-provoking way. His text choices ranged from narrations of the Amistad slave ship to the coal mining communities of Wales to a September 11 tribute. Ames passed away in January of this year, and Jordan and The Same Stream Choir took the opportunity last Saturday night at All Saints’ to honor both the composer and his music.
The Ames music performed ranged from a piece commissioned by the Choir College two decades ago to a world premiere. Awakenings, a four-movement setting of the poetry of American writer Kitty O’Meara, grew out of the pandemic, and gave the singers of the chorus plenty of provocative text to communicate. The music showed a clear attention to the words, full comprehension of the sung voice, and particular simplicity in the unisons of the first movement. The Same Stream singers well handled the dissonances of the work, with the harmonic shifts well placed to accentuate text. Pianist Everly effectively conveyed the expressive piano part, as conductor Jordan led the ensemble through the reassuring poetry. Vocally, the chorus demonstrated a solid choral blend, with the sopranos providing a straight and laser-like tone. These were youthful and energetic voices who fit well into the acoustic of All Saints’ Church.

One of Ames’ most poignant works is the Choral Reflections on Amazing Grace, commissioned by James Jordan after 9/11 and dedicated to the children of those who died in the terrorist attacks. Combining a simple harmonization of the familiar tune with Greek text from the Mass for the Dead, this piece was sung by the chorus with sensitivity, aided by the solo singing of Holly Scovell and Alex Meakem. The ensemble also well conveyed the easy musical flow and undefinable longing for homeland of Hiraeth, a setting of a Welsh poem. The soprano choral lines were especially pure in this piece, with the rest of the ensemble providing a well-blended core of sound.

The historic Welsh choral tradition continued in an excerpt from Ames’ opera How Green was My Valley, with a libretto by Elizabeth Bassine. The music evoked the expansive Welsh countryside and landscapes, with soloists soprano Joslyn Thomas and tenor Jesse Borower providing light and clear solo lines. Welsh music is renowned for its hymns, and the chorus sang the “Once to Every Man and Nation” tune within the opera excerpt with effective intensity, invoking Welsh fortitude against the odds.

Always the pedagogue, Jordan turned over the podium to Associate Conductor Everly for two of the closing works on the program. Everly drew the same smoothly-blended sound out of the chorus in works by Thomas LaVoy and Patrick Hawes, with soloists Camille Watson and Meakem providing vocal clarity in Hawes’ setting of Little Lamb and a unified choral sound echoing well in the space of the church chancel. Combined with two pieces by Dan Forrest which concluded the program, the music on Saturday’s concert demonstrated that simplicity is often most effective, especially with works created out of very emotional experiences.

READY TO DANCE: The Grupo de Danza Folklórica La Sagrada Familia is among the attractions at the New Brunswick HEART Festival this weekend.

State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick Cultural Center, New Brunswick Performing Arts Center (NBPAC), and Above Art Studios present the New Brunswick HEART Festival on Saturday, August 13, from 3-6 p.m. in downtown New Brunswick’s Monument Square, 2 Livingston Avenue.  

The family-friendly festival celebrates the arts and history of New Brunswick and Middlesex County with live music and dance performances, dance classes for kids and adults, craft vendors, and more. New this year is the addition of a block party in front of Above Art Studios at 55 Morris Street, with live music, food, vendors, a spades tournament, live painting, and a community chalk art mural. 

This year’s lineup on the outdoor stage on Livingston Avenue includes hip-hop, reggae, and pop performer Fyütch; New Brunswick Latin band Sonido Latino;  tap dancer Omar Edwards; a salsa dance class party with Elvis Ruiz; a dance performance by Grupo de Danza Folklórica La Sagrada Familia; the New Brunswick Brass Band; and a dance performance by InSpira Performing Arts & Cultural Center. more

THE BLUES: Blue Man Group is among the offerings at the Kimmel Cultural Campus in the coming season.

Tickets for touring Broadway shows are currently offered on presale by the Kimmel Cultural Campus in Philadelphia, which includes the Kimmel Center, the Academy of Music, and the Merriam Theatre.

Shows include Les Miserables November 2-13, Annie October 11-16, Tina — The Tina Turner Musical November 22-December 4, Blue Man Group December 27-31, and Dear Evan Hansen August 16-28. Visit KimmelCulturalCampus.org for further information.

“GREEN RELIEF”: This work by Karen Titus Smith is part of “Women on the Wall,” her joint sculpture exhibition with Wendy Gordon, on view at the Arts Council of Princeton September 10 through October 8. The public is invited to an opening reception on Saturday, September 17 from 3 to 5 p.m.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) will show “Women on the Wall,” an exhibition of free form and unique sculpture by New Jersey-based artists Wendy Gordon and Karen Titus Smith in the Taplin Gallery September 10 through October 8. The public is invited to an opening reception on Saturday, September 17 from 3 to 5 p.m.

Gordon’s sculpture consists of repeated, organic forms that hang or lean up against the wall, or are free-standing. They look somehow familiar, as if forms from nature, such as seed pods or cocoons or are reminiscent of ancient utensils, such as cups or scoops. But even though they are similar in size, color and form, each element is subtly unique and when presented together they form a cohesive whole.

“I believe that my work communicates on several different levels,” said Gordon. “I am making a statement on nature and the structures it sometimes utilizes to become stronger and thus survive. Look at a compound leaf, the eye of a fly or the tentacles of a jellyfish and you find multiple forms that work together towards one achievement: survival.” more

“LOTTO: THE AMERICAN DREAM”: This work by Luis Cruz Azaceta is featured in “American Stories: Gifts from the Jersey City Museum Collection,” on view September 1 through December 30 at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. An opening celebration will be held on Thursday, September 8 from 4:30 to 8 p.m.

This fall, the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University-New Brunswick debuts a major addition to its permanent collection that offers a variety of perspectives on American art and life through a regional lens. 

“American Stories: Gifts from the Jersey City Museum Collection,” on view from September 1 to December 30, features nearly 100 paintings, prints, photographs, and sculptures. The public is invited to a free opening celebration at SparkNight on September 8 from 4:30 to 8 p.m.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to share this collection with the public,” said Maura Reilly, director of the Zimmerli. “It includes work by some of the most important artists of the past six decades — Emma Amos, Dawoud Bey, Chakaia Booker, Mel Edwards, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, and others — which, when combined with our stellar American art collection, provides a more comprehensive picture of American art and society.” more

WELCOME HOME! “This design has a lot of different plant varieties that will bloom at different times. When designing, we like to use a lot of different textures and color,” explains Chris DeMato, owner of Rock Bottom Landscaping & Fencing. Shown here is a recent Rock Bottom project, creating an eye-appealing design of contrast and color. “We included texture such as dwarf evergreens to contrast with the soft growth of ornamental grasses, which adds subtlety, and we also featured boulders which contributed texture, giving a natural look to the overall design.”

By Jean Stratton

Your home is your haven, and more and more often that extends to the surrounding landscape. Attractive plantings, handsome patios, and winding walkways all add to the pleasure of a welcoming home environment.

Chris DeMato, owner of Rock Bottom Landscaping & Fencing, knows all about transforming tired landscapes into exciting new looks. For more than 30 years, he has been helping people select just the right landscape, hardscape, or fencing to enhance their property and increase their enjoyment.

“It’s a great feeling when you can transform something that was overgrown or in disrepair, and turn it into something special,” says DeMato. “Old properties can often have overgrown plant material and that are not in good condition. We can put in new plants and trees, and it is very rewarding to see this transformation.” more

GOLDEN GIRL: Former Princeton University women’s basketball player Abby Meyers displays the gold medal and MVP trophy she earned after helping the U.S. open female team to victory at the  Maccabiah Games in Israel. Meyers posted a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds in the gold medal game in an 88-55 win over Israel and averaged 18.4 points a game at the tournament. Star guard Meyers, the Ivy Player of the Year in her senior season last winter, will be playing for the University of Maryland in the 2022-23 campaign as a graduate transfer.

By Justin Feil

Abby Meyers passed up the chance to play in the Maccabiah Games in 2017 in order to prepare to start her career for the Princeton University women’s basketball team.

Now at the tail end of her college career, Meyers made the most of another opportunity to compete in the Maccabiah Games this summer as she joined the United States open female team for the event. Meyers averaged 18.4 points per game and was named Most Valuable Player while leading the U.S. open women’s team to the gold medal at the Maccabiah Games.

“Just coming back and showing my family the medal, showing my grandmother the MVP trophy, it definitely is a very special thing to win gold representing Team USA and bring back the hardware,” said Meyers, a 6’0 guard who hails from Potomac, Md.

“What I learned going to Israel in the first place though was I thought it was going to be all about basketball and winning that gold medal. It’s an important part, but ultimately it was a small part of the overall experience.”

Meyers had not played overseas before competing in the Maccabiah Games and she had not yet visited Israel. The chance to combine the two made for a remarkable experience.

“What I most valued from it was getting to meet other Jewish athletes from all over the world, going to the Dead Sea, going to the Yad Vashem, which is the Holocaust Memorial site, and taking the whole experience in,” said Meyers of the competition which brings together 10,000 athletes from 85 countries taking part in 45 sports. “And I still happened to play basketball. It was awesome.” more

WORLD STAGE: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Marge Donovan races upfield against Yale in a game this spring during her senior season. Star defender Donovan has enjoyed an eventful few months. She capped her final Princeton campaign by getting named as the Ivy League Defender of the Year, the Most Outstanding Player in the Ivy postseason tournament, and as a third-team IWLCA All-American. In mid-July, Donovan helped the U.S. women’s team earn a silver medal in the inaugural World Sixes tournament at the World Games in Birmingham, Ala. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Over the last few months, Marge Donovan has reached new heights in her lacrosse career.

This spring, Donovan produced a superb senior season for the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team, getting named as the Ivy League Defender of the Year, the Most Outstanding Player in the Ivy postseason tournament, and as a third-team Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) All-American. Along the way, Donovan set a program single-season record in draw controls (112) and a career record in draw controls with 214.

Donovan’s heroics helped Princeton go 7-0 in Ivy play, win the league postseason tournament, and advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament on the way to a 15-4 record.

In July, Donovan, a native of Catonsville, Md., competed for the U.S. team in the inaugural World Sixes tournament at the World Games in Birmingham, Ala. The athletic, rangy 5’10 Donovan helped the U.S. earn a silver medal at the competition.

In reflecting on her lacrosse whirlwind, Donovan credited her Princeton experience with laying the groundwork for her to excel on the world stage.

“I would say I owe much of who I am as a person and a lacrosse player to that program,” said Donovan. “I grew a lot. It is just a fantastic program. You have a coaching staff of Chris [Sailer], Jenn [Cook], and Kerrin [Maurer] that cares about you. Of course they care about your performance on the field but what drives the coaching is that they are culture coaches. When you have people that are genuinely invested in you, you can grow on and off the field. You feel supported.” more

PIPING UP: Community Park Bluefish swimmer Piper Dubow displays her butterfly form in a meet this summer. Dubow helped the Bluefish take first in Division 1 at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet in late July. Dubow was named the 18-and-under girls MVP at the PASDA meet, taking first in both the 50-yard breaststroke and 100 individual medley. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It was a record-breaking summer on many levels for the Community Park Bluefish swimming team.

First, the venerable program, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, drew 280 swimmers and 60 divers for its 2022 campaign.

“That is the most we have ever had, it blew away the most we had before,” said Bluefish co-head coach Mike Uchrin. “This is our first year back to normal season, 2021 was a transition. We weren’t really sure what to expect this year. As the year went along, I was talking to Kelsey (co-head coach Kelsey Schwimmer), saying these are really big numbers. A lot of families in the post-COVID times wanted to get their kids back into the water and back into a sport where they will have fun. It worked out great.”

Featuring such depth, the Bluefish went 5-0 in dual meet competition in Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) Division 1 action and then dominated the PASDA championship meet in late July, taking first in Division 1 with 4,441 points, well ahead of runner-up Hopewell Valley, which had 1,999.

“It is the most points we have ever had at the championships, we had the most PASDA MVPs (six) we have ever had,” said Uchrin, whose team has been undefeated since 2015 and hosted the PASDA championship meet. “We had multiple PASDA league records that we set. It wasn’t just our collective performance but we had a lot of great individual performances.”

While proud of the team’s achievements, Uchrin is more focused on making sure that the swimmers have a great time.

“It is not about the wins and losses, it is about the fun,” said Uchrin, noting that Friday practices are devoted to playing sharks and minnows and water polo rather than grinding out laps. more

STRONG FOUNDATION: Majeski Foundation’s Jason Larranaga looks to make a pass in a June game in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Last Friday, Larranaga scored a game-high 16 points to help ninth-seeded Majeski defeat third-seeded Athlete Engineering Institute 45-43 in overtime at the Community Park courts in game three of the league’s best-of-three championship series. Larranaga was named as the Foreal Wooten Playoff MVP. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Majeski Foundation trailing Athlete Engineering Institute 22-10 late in the first half last Friday night at the Community Park courts in the finale of best-of-three championship series of the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League, it was on the ropes.

But displaying the resilience that fueled ninth-seeded Majeski’s unlikely run to the finals, it started to fight back, narrowing the gap to 26-18 at halftime and pulling ahead 29-28 five minutes into the second half.

“We started to make a little progress at the end of the first half,” said Majeski star and team manager Jason Larranaga. “We came in at halftime and kept emphasizing the same things. We have got to get through this. When we started to make our run, we started believing in ourselves a little more. It was all about keep it going and upping the intensity more and more.”

The fierce battle got more intense as the second half unfolded with the foes were knotted at 43-43 at the end of regulation.

The Majeski squad, which is comprised of players from The College of New Jersey’s men’s hoops team, felt it had momentum heading into overtime.

“By the end, we had the second wind and the pressure was on them,” said Larranaga of the squad which had fought off pressure to get to game three, dropping the opener of the title series 50-41 on August 1 before topping AEI 45-36 last Wednesday in game two to stay alive in the series.

“We came out energized and ready to go. They are a good team for sure, they play really hard. Those guys are strong too, they are grown men.”

Both squads played hard defense in the extra session with the score remaining at 43-43 until Larranaga got loose on the baseline and dropped in a lay-up which proved to be the margin of victory in a 45-43 triumph. more

DAN THE MAN: Danny Bodine of Majeski Foundation unloads the ball in recent action in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Last Wednesday, Bodine scored a game-high 14 points to help ninth-seeded Majeski defeat third-seeded Athlete Engineering Institute 45-36 at the Community Park courts as it evened the best-of-three championship series at 1-1. Two days later, Majeski edged AEI 45-43 in overtime in game three to earn the title. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Hampered by a sore arm, Danny Bodine was sidelined for a couple of playoff games in late July as Majeski Foundation advanced to the best-of-three championship series in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League.

But with ninth-seeded Majeski, which is comprised of players from the The College of New Jersey’s men’s hoops team, having lost 50-41 to third-seeded Athlete Engineering Institute in game one of the series on August 1, Bodine wasn’t about to sit out game three on Wednesday night at the Community Park courts with his team on the brink of elimination.

“It is a win or go home situation, that is all the motivation you need,” said Bodine, a 6’9, 190-pound native of Langhorne who was second on TCNJ in scoring (12.1) last winter and first in rebounding (7.3). “You just come out and punch them in the mouth early and keep that lead the whole time.”

Shrugging off the pain from his sprained elbow, Bodine delivered some blows to AEI, tallying a game-high 14 points, including four 3-pointers as Majeski pulled out a 45-36 victory to stay alive in the series.

“Our team was moving the ball, it was our team getting good looks for us,” said Bodine, reflecting on his performance. “I am confident in anyone shooting and they are confident in me shooting. Whatever shot we can get, I will take it.”

Playing with their backs to the wall, Majeski produced a stifling defensive effort, building a 24-15 lead at halftime. more

August 3, 2022

Ess Gees performed on Saturday afternoon as part of the Palmer Square Summer Music Series, which continues every Saturday from 12 to 2 p.m. through August. Attendees share their favorite things to do in Princeton in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Sarah Teo)

By Donald Gilpin

Starting with its Community Kick-Off Reception on Friday evening, August 5, at Studio Hillier on Witherspoon Street and continuing through Sunday, August 14, Joint Effort Safe Streets has something for everybody — with its hub in the Witherspoon-Jackson community and its impact throughout Princeton.

“It’s always good when Joint Effort Safe Streets comes around, because it gives the community a chance to come together for good discussion and camaraderie,” said Princeton Councilman and Witherspoon-Jackson resident Leighton Newlin. “Joint Effort started with the kids and the basketball camp. The recreational part of Safe Streets brings our youth together with fun things to do. Joint Effort has since morphed into discussions and dialogue over critical issues here in Princeton. These forums open up the dialogue. They put topics on the table that are seldom discussed in Princeton with the same kind of focus.”

Highlights of the Joint Effort Witherspoon-Jackson Community Princeton Safe Streets Summer 2022 Programs, which are “Dedicated to the Memory of Our Ancestors,” include reflections on the past of the community and the presentation of awards to individuals, families, churches, and other institutions that have contributed to the rich history of the neighborhood. Also in the spotlight will be commentary from civic leaders and others; a gospel fest, meet and greet gatherings, a community block festival, and other entertainments; a free basketball clinic and the Pete Young Memorial Basketball Games for all ages; and, perhaps most importantly, a series of three discussions on important current concerns, featuring commentators and panelists, leaders in local government, politics, business, public safety, and education.

Joint Effort Safe Streets Founder and Event Coordinator John Bailey emphasized the significance of the Hot Topics discussions, particularly those focusing on the issue of race in Princeton. “It’s important to me that we’re having a conversation about race,” he said. “A lot of people don’t want to have those conversations, but there is a need for us to think deeply about what we’re trying to do.” more

AFTERMATH OF A BLAZE: Where their Christmas tree once stood, the first-floor living room of Doria and Calavino Donati, who own Tipple & Rose, is a scene of devastation.

By Anne Levin

About 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 23, Doria and Calavino Donati were busy with customers at Tipple & Rose, their popular 210 Nassau Street tea parlor, when they got a call from a neighbor saying dark smoke was pouring out of their Rosedale Road home. Calavino rushed to the property while her wife, Doria, stayed behind at the shop.

“I was hoping it was something small,” Doria Donati said this week. “When I finally got through to her, I said, ‘Please tell me everything is okay.’ She said, ‘I can’t do that.’”

The back of their 1950s house was engulfed in flames. The top of the building was sheared off. According to Lawrence Township Fire Marshal Edward C. Tencza, the cause of the fire remains undetermined and is still under investigation.

Because there was no fire hydrant near the house, hoses had to be threaded together to reach a hydrant down the street. In the 20-plus minutes it took for the firefighters from Lawrence Township, Princeton, Hopewell, Ewing, Pennington Borough, West Windsor, Plainsboro, and Trenton to start working on the blaze, much of the building was obliterated.

“It’s devastating,” Doria said. “We’ve gone back every day trying to find anything we can salvage. It’s just overwhelming.”

Lylah Alphonse, a friend of Doria from her student days at Princeton Day School, quickly organized a GoFundMe fundraiser for the couple. As of Tuesday afternoon, $22,264 had been contributed. The Donatis do not currently have homeowners insurance, so the money is key to them getting back on their feet. The family includes two recently acquired puppies, who escaped the fire because they were in an attached apartment when the blaze broke out. more

By Wendy Greenberg

With degrees in chemical engineering, and graduate study at Princeton University’s Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, Maximillian Nguyen thought that becoming a volunteer firefighter was out of his “normal wheelhouse.” But he considers himself “a resident of the town of Princeton and not just a University student,” so he decided to give back to the community in appreciation for enjoying what Princeton has to offer.

Nguyen is one of four Princeton University graduate students who recently became members of the Princeton Fire Department, and who continue a longstanding cooperative effort that has helped the municipal department supplement its ranks through the University’s staff and students’ desire to serve the community.

The four are the largest group of graduate students to join at one time, according to Princeton University. In addition to Nguyen, Johana De la Cruz, Jonathan Lowry, and Shua-Kym McLean, all graduate students in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, are among the 11 new members of the Princeton Fire Department who were sworn in on May 25. Nguyen is assigned to Princeton Engine Company No. 1; the others are assigned to Mercer Engine Company No. 3.

Deputy Chief Alex Ridings explained that a more formal associate member program allows University employees to volunteer from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. workdays, responding to emergencies on and off campus. (Employees can also join the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad.) Additionally, there has long been a volunteer base among undergraduate and graduate students. This was a challenge for the department during the pandemic when students left campus, Ridings noted, but the department is recruiting and rebuilding.  more

COMING HOME: The Same Stream, a choir of alumni from Westminster Choir College, will perform on the Princeton campus in honor of late composer Roger Ames, premiering his final compositions. The choir is pictured here at Oxford University.

By Anne Levin

For alumni of Westminster Choir College, Bristol Chapel is home. So it makes sense that The Same Stream, a choir made up of Westminster graduates from a range of years, has chosen the stately building at the former home of the famed choral academy as the culminating venue of a three-concert series.

Members of the Philadelphia-based choir, all of whom sung at Westminster under conductor and professor James Jordan, will perform a concert led by Jordan on Saturday, August 6. ROGER AMES: A Legacy Concert Series is in honor of composer Roger Ames, who died last January from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). A portion of the proceeds from the Princeton concert, which follows appearances in Philadelphia and on Long Island, will be donated to the ALS Association.

“It’s going to be really nostalgic for everyone,” said Alex Meakem, executive director of the choir and a 2018 Westminster graduate. “We’ve all sung in Bristol Chapel on multiple occasions. It will be great to be back in a place that feels like home, and the fact that we are premiering a piece by Roger Ames makes it really special.”

The choir was formed seven years ago “out of a feeling of wanting to sing together again,” said Meakem. “The idea was that no matter what year you graduated, if you had sung with James Jordan, you could all come together again. And it works, because we all understand his language. We understand how he works. It is really musical magic.” more

FACING OFF: Impact Chess, a nonprofit founded by young Princeton resident Eric Wu, held its first outdoor gathering last month at Turning Basin Park. A second will take place this weekend.

By Anne Levin

When Eric Wu, founder of the nonprofit Impact Chess, planned the first “Chess in the Park” event last month at Turning Basin Park, he wasn’t sure how many people would show up. To his delight, some 25 players of all ages and skill levels arrived on the scene. They were challenged by a single player — National Master Winston Ni — who took them on in 19 simultaneous games.

“It was a huge success,” said Wu. “My main goal is to inspire younger kids to pursue chess more, to give them an experience that makes them associate chess with community and friendship. It was our first-ever in-person event, and I think we did that. You could see 19 kids huddled over 19 boards, and you could see the dedication. It was a sight you don’t usually see anymore — focused and quiet.”

“Chess in the Park” returns to Turning Basin Park off Alexander Street on Sunday, August 7, from 2-6 p.m. Wu, a Princeton resident for the past nine years, is expecting an even larger crowd this time. As a rising junior at Phillips Exeter Academy and former student at Princeton Day School (PDS), he isn’t much older than the young chess players he works to inspire. more