Despite the drizzle, roughly 400 Hoboken residents and their friends attended the 11th annual Hoboken Spaghetti Dinner Block Party this past Thursday night.
City Cultural Affairs Director Geri Fallo said that the idea began in the 1950s when Hoboken celebrated its centennial.
“The event was originally done for the 100th anniversary back in the ’50s on Washington Street,” said Fallo.
Eleven years ago, for the 150th anniversary of Hoboken, the town resurrected the idea and recreated the event by the waterfront.
“People liked it so much that we decided to keep doing it,” said Fallo. “A lot of times people come that you haven’t seen in awhile. It’s a good opportunity to meet new people. People kind of stumble upon it every year.”
Fallo said tickets are only available for purchase at City Hall prior to the event to help keep the number of attendees at a manageable 400 people.
“The first one we did had 800 people, so after that we needed to keep it more manageable for the caterer and to make sure that everyone fit between First and Second streets,” said Fallo.
The Brownstone in Paterson, whom the city has used in previous years for the event, catered. They served four types of pasta, meatballs, sausage, eggplant parmigiana, salad, bread, and Italian desserts.
The Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps sold wine, beer, soda, and water as a fundraiser. President Thomas Malta said that this has become one of their most lucrative fundraisers as they typically make between $600 and $1,000 during the event.
“The money goes towards our general fund,” said Malta. “The fund pays for medical supplies, ambulance repairs, and general building maintenance typically.”
But this year they are hoping to put aside a percentage of the money to help pay for a new ambulance.
“The ambulance we have is from 2009 and it got damaged in Hurricane Sandy,” he said. “Of course we had it repaired, but it hasn’t been the same since. Seven years is a long time for an ambulance lifespan anyway, so we are about due for a new one.”
Zack Alexander, winner of the 2016 Sinatra Idol contest, performed several jazz standards and frank Sinatra tunes beginning with “Let’s fly away.”
“It’s a thrill to be here,” said Alexander. “I performed last year and I am glad I was asked to do it again this year. I love spaghetti and I love Sinatra so this is a great event to be a part of.”
Many families, city officials, and residents of Jersey City and Hoboken attended the event.
Erin Sullivan, who works in town at Pearson, noticed the event last year and was glad to attend for the first time this year with her friends from out of town.
“I saw it last year when I passed by, and smelled good things, so I knew I had to come this year,” said Sullivan
Caitlyn Hoehn, a three-year resident of uptown Hoboken, attended the event with friends from her Facebook group for new mothers.
“Its nice to spend the evening with friends,” she said.
Victoria Godel, a resident of Jersey City, also attended the event for the first time and said it’s a good “way to go out with friends before summer is over and it starts to get cold.”
“The only sad thing about this event is it signifies the end of summer.”—Dawn Zimmer
“I like the way it brings the community together,” said Fallo. “People come with their families, or reserve a table of 10 with their friends, and people with individual tickets sit with people that they didn’t know before, and that’s a nice thing. It’s a good way to meet your neighbors over a meal.”
Mayor Dawn Zimmer said, “This is a beautiful event where we can take advantage of our beautiful waterfront to share in a meal with friends and neighbors.”
She added, “The only sad thing about this event is it signifies the end of summer.”
Marilyn Baer can be reached at email@example.com