Weehawken Day Festival canceled Turner, council believe fun day ‘inappropriate’ in light of tragedy

After debating the issue for more than a week, Weehawken officials have decided to cancel the annual Weehawken Day Festival, originally scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 29 at Lincoln Harbor Park, because of the World Trade Center terrorist tragedy.

According to Mayor Richard Turner, the events have been just "too traumatic" to hold a day of fun for the township’s residents.

"We’ve all been so traumatized," Turner said. "It’s just too much. Nobody wants to be in a festive mode. The festival has always been a day for fun, for singing, music, dance, rides. We just can’t do it down there, with what happened as a reminder, with smoke still coming from the site. It’s just not the right atmosphere to have an event like the festival. It would have been in very bad taste while so many people are mourning their losses."

Turner said that he deliberated over the idea with several members of the community, as well as the township council and other town officials.

"I spoke with department heads and school officials," Turner said. "On one hand, no one wanted to ignore the children, because the festival has always been a fun time for them. But the events of the last week have been so traumatic on everyone. It’s been just so overwhelming. There’s a hospital ship in the Hudson River and F-16 planes are flying overhead. Looking at lower Manhattan is beyond words. It was just not appropriate."

There was talk of simply postponing the event for a few weeks, but Turner said that there wasn’t a proper timetable.

"Even postponing it for a month or so would have posed too much of a reminder," Turner said. "With all the outpouring of grief and patriotism, it just wouldn’t have been right. We honestly all didn’t know what was the right thing to do, except for canceling it for this year."

The 2001 Weehawken Day Festival would have been the 10th annual. It was postponed one year due to rain, but has always been a popular free event, with more than 70 percent of the town’s 12,000-plus residents attending annually.

Turner said that the township is already planning a possible spring carnival for the youngsters.

"We’re hoping to do something for the children in the spring, so they’re not deprived of their day," Turner said. "Then, next year, we can hopefully go back to our regular routine, God willing."

Turner said that there has been already interest from some township organizations to turn the efforts that would generally go toward the Weehawken Day Festival into some sort of a fund-raising event.

"We’re going to see if we could have a fund drive or a blood drive, a charity event in the high school gym," Turner said. "We’re going to concentrate our efforts and attention to gaining fund-raising support to help the victims. That would probably be the best thing to do."

"There’s a hospital ship in the Hudson River and F-16 planes are flying overhead. It was just not appropriate." – Mayor Richard Turner


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