Ron Albanese, a 45-year-old school teacher and former Hoboken resident, always makes several zany appearances in the Mile Square City each summer as he continues to perform under his “Kiddie Rock ‘n’ Roll” persona – Polka Dot.
Albanese is a technology instructor in an elementary school in Palisades Park, and used to teach in Jersey City. But you may know him better as the lovable high-energy character he brings to the stage.
“Polka Dot shows are big, amplified, and as colorful as possible with lighting effects and props. They are larger than life,” said Albanese, who was born in Livingston, came to Hoboken as an adult, and moved out of town in 2004.
Albanese averages 100 kiddie shows a year, from birthday parties to festivals, has a new song and video out.
“Everyone is always dancing along at the shows,” he said, “and a few times, I noticed some kids doing a jumping jack type of movement. I thought, wow – I want to write a jumping jack song.”
Albanese’s new song, which can be found on his website, features his 12-year-old daughter Sofia (or “Super Sofia”) – who has performed with her dad since she was 2.
One of the videos for the song features Hoboken’s Shipyard Park in the background.
He will perform at the opening of the Uptown Farmers Market on Saturday, June 4.
In his 17th year performing, Hoboken’s favorite entertainer is not showing signs of slowing down.
You can see Albanese at the Garden Street Farmer’s Market kickoff ceremony on Saturday, June 4 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The market, at 14th and Garden Streets, sells produce, pickles/olives, breads, cheese, fish, meat, sweets/pies/donuts, flowers, prepared foods, fresh lemonade, hummus, pressed juices, and more.
Besides annual mainstays like the Halloween Ragamuffin Parade and Arts and Music Festival, you can also catch Polka Dot at his annual concert at Shipyard Park on July 12 at 7 p.m.
Albanese, who often dons fluorescent costumes and polka-dot hats, has taken the stage for crowds of enthused children in and around Hudson County since March 1999.
He fell into this career by accident.
Albanese grew up in West Caldwell and graduated from Montclair State with a degree in psychology. He used to be a teacher in Jersey City at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, which is no longer open, and at P.S. 30, teaching elementary school students. He is still a teacher of computer sciences for second to seventh graders.
In the 1990s, Albanese was the editor of The Hudson Current, a midweek lifestyle paper published by the Hudson Reporter. He interviewed aspiring actors, artists, and musicians. Little did he know he would become a star himself.
In what he describes as a “happy accident,” one day he interviewed a female singer-songwriter from Jersey City, who invited him to join her in delivering singing telegrams.
Albanese, who lived in Hoboken with his wife, had played in rock bands and was a devotee of Cheap Trick and Kiss. In fact, he was an author of a Cheap Trick newsletter. So he had some music experience, but not with singing telegrams.
On a lunch break he auditioned in Union City and was told “yes” almost immediately.
Albanese began dressing up as characters such as the Telletubbies, Pikachu, and Elmo. Being a generic clown seemed like the logical next step, but Albanese wanted something more. So he developed a new persona as Polka Dot: a fun-loving rock ‘n’ roller simply looking to jam out.
To learn more about Polka Dot visit www.RonAlbanese.com and to see the new music video visit www.youtu.be/Xxqh-yhuF5E.
To celebrate the new record, Albanese commissioned a 7-inch record of “Jumpin’ Jack Attack!” with his own artwork and 1960s surfer-inspired sea green vinyl. Copies are available at www.jumpinjackattack.com.