‘It hurts here, it hurts there, but here we are’

Annual senior picnic draws large crowds

For many North Bergen residents, the Annual Senior Picnic is something to look forward to.
Held Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 10:30 a.m., the luncheon brought together hundreds of senior citizens for food, drinks, and dancing within the ballroom at Schuetzen Park.
With a DJ, bar, and catered food, the event has been a town tradition for seniors for over 20 years, many of which live in the nearby Fritz Reuter Altenheim retirement community.

“It brings you memories.” – Ana Gomez
Other attendees included event organizer and Public Safety Commissioner Theresa Ferraro, Mayor Nicholas Sacco, Commissioner Hugo Cabrera, Police Chief William Galvin, and Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise.

A good time

Many seniors confess that the opportunity to come together and socialize is the reason the picnic is so looked forward to within the community.
“I come by myself,” said Ana Gomez, a resident of uptown North Bergen for more than 20 years. “You can get together with the seniors and socialize.”
“This is my third time,” said Lloyd Masa, a Norh Bergen resident for roughly 30 years. “I enjoy it. I like the atmosphere, the music, the people.”
Other seniors, such as Bacio Sanchez, have been attending the event since they first moved to North Bergen.
“I like the people, the food, everything,” said Sanchez, who has lived in town for approximately 10 years. “I have a good time here.”
Sure enough, many seniors could be seen dancing with one another along the ballroom floor.
“They play my music,” said Anna Arocho, a senior that has been attending the event for four years. “The oldies, the ’50s.”
“It brings you memories,” said Gomez, adding that in her 20 years in North Bergen, she has only missed the event once. “Every year I try to come in and celebrate.”
According to Gomez, the atmosphere of the picnic helps her to deal with the highs and lows of being a senior.
“It hurts here, it hurts there, but here we are,” she said with a laugh.
Many seniors were able to meet township officials such as Sacco and DeGise as they circulated the event.
“I appreciate what they do for the elderly,” said Anna Arocho, who has been attending the event for four years. “You get to meet the mayor, hear what’s going on, and I look forward to it.”
For township officials like Ferraro, organizing and attending the event has been something to look forward to each year.
“I’ve been handling the picnic for at least 15 years,” said Ferraro, who also serves as the chairperson of the Housing Authority. “I love doing it. [The seniors] get to see each other once a year and they look forward to that.”


According to Frank Piazza, the head of security personnel at North Bergen High School, the senior picnic actually began in 1988. The first year, the event was held within the parking lot at Schuetzen Park.
The following year, the event was moved inside, where it remained for 22 years.
“Due to inclement weather we had to move every inside,” said Piazza, “and then we just stayed inside.”
Town spokesman Phil Swibinski said, “It’s grown every year. We love doing it. We love honoring the seniors.”
Stephen LaMarca may be reached at slamarca@hudsonreporter.com.

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