When Township officials realized several years ago that the year 2007 would mark Millburn Township’s sesquicentennial anniversary, plans began to materialize for a celebration the likes of which the Township had not seen in at least fifty years.
A committee of Township volunteers, elected officials, staff and community organizations including the Downtown Millburn Development Alliance and the Millburn-Short Hills Chamber of Commerce formed in 2006 to begin to formalize the events that would mark a year long celebration of the Township’s 150th anniversary. The Township put together a sponsorship campaign and received more than $100,000 in donations from residents and businesses. Most notable are the three Gold Level sponsors, Elie Tahari, Millburn Common Associates/The Fidelco Group and Stone Mountain Properties.
The celebration kicked off with a Founder’s Day “birthday” party on March 18, 2007 at the Mall at Short Hills. It was held in the grand court of the mall after hours, and more than 100 people, including Sesquicentennial Celebration sponsors, Township officials and various commission members and volunteers, attended, singing “Happy Birthday” and cutting a three-section birthday cake that commemorated the official incorporation of Millburn Township on March 20, 1857. The event was co-sponsored by The Mall at Short Hills and Legal Seafood.
On April 20, 2007 the Township held a pre-show cocktail party in the Carriage House at the Paper Mill Playhouse with guests and sponsors later attending a production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
On the beautiful spring Saturday morning of May 12th, the Township, in partnership with the Millburn-Short Hills Chamber of Commerce, organized an open house at Greenwood Gardens to showcase one of the Township’s true treasures. Residents were invited to visit the gardens free of charge, and docents guided them through the 28-acre Garden, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The largest event of the year took place on June 9, 2007 . After more than a year in the planning, Millburn Township’s day-long Sesquicentennial Celebration lived up to expectations, providing thousands with a joyous and memorable commemoration. Current and former Township residents, visitors from neighboring communities and celebrants who came from far beyond the Garden State took part in a mix of activities that included a two-block long food court, special activities for children and the long-awaited Sesquicentennial Parade up Millburn Avenue. The festivities drew to a close as night fell, with a concert in Taylor Park.
The Main Street Food Court, set up with tables, an old-fashioned beer truck and featuring outdoor fare prepared and sold by more than 15 Township restaurants and food purveyors, included Basilico, Whole Foods Market, Martini Bistro & Bar, restaurant mc, Cold Stone Creamery, Charlie Brown’s and La Strada, among others. Open for the entire afternoon and into the evening, the Main Street Food Court extended from Essex Street to Taylor Street.
Several hundred children, parents and grandparents spent the afternoon hours at the Sesquicentennial day Children’s Carnival in the Town Hall parking lot on Millburn Avenue. Members of the Millburn Rotary Club volunteered as ticket takers and cashiers for the five-hour-long Carnival, at which rides, games and prizes took center stage. Township children also had the opportunity to win custom-made Sesquicentennial logo cookies by correctly answering the question, “What does sesquicentennial mean?” More than 2,000 cookies were distributed during the day.
At 4 PM, the celebration’s main event – Millburn Township’s Sesquicentennial Parade – began its route up Millburn Avenue, stepping off at Undercliff Road and featuring more than 100 organizations, floats, special cars and marching bands from both the Millburn-Short Hills community and places as far away as Philadelphia and Connecticut. Original floats, designed and produced by a number of Township municipal, civic and business entities, delighted the crowds lining Millburn Avenue.
Stationed at the Grandstand in front of Town Hall, the Millburn High School Band joined more than 15 marching bands. From Philadelphia’s world-renowned Mummers, electrifying the crowd with its inspired and colorful costumes and dancing, to the Dover, New Jersey Emerald GrenaDears – the only all-female drum and bugle corps in the United States – the bands filled the air with rousing traditional American march music.
The parade ended in time for celebrants to seat themselves on the grass of Taylor Park, where the inaugural concert of the 2007 Summer Concert Series took place. The classic rock band The Kootz delighted the Taylor Park crowd until slightly after dark, ending the day’s celebration.
On August 4 the Sesquicentennial Races and Pool Fun Day took place at Gero Park and began with rides, a dunk tank, large inflatables on the grounds and organized old-fashioned races. The fun continued at the Township pool, which was open for free to all residents in the afternoon with additional water games and contests continuing through the evening. A professional DJ added to the party atmosphere.
The Sesquicentennial Ball, the grand finale of the year long celebration, was held on October 27. The black-tie dinner dance, held at the Hilton Short Hills, began with a cocktail reception in The Tented Pavilion, during which a jazz combo of talented Millburn High School musicians performed, and the nearly 300 guests enjoyed a four-course meal in the Hotel's Grand Ballroom, with the Dynasty Orchestra bringing the whole room to the dance floor throughout the night. Five local florists, Emerald Gardens , Linda’s Florist, Millburn Florist, Flowers & Events From the Ground Up and Flower Expressions, each created magnificent centerpieces to dress the tables. During the festivities, the Millburn-Short Hills Historical Society displayed more than 40 items for a silent auction, generating more than $16,000 in donations.
Township Business Administrator Tim Gordon, who with Assistant Township Business Administrator Kelly Cupit oversaw the multi-faceted Sesquicentennial Celebration, recently said, "We're proud of our accomplishments in presenting such a wide variety of commemorative activities for Millburn's 150th anniversary, grateful to the many Township residents who volunteered their time and talent to make the year a success, and we look forward to participating - as guests - in the Township's Bicentennial in 2057."
A SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR GOLD LEVEL SPONSORS:
Millburn Common Associates/The Fidelco Group