Thanksgiving Day Parade Memories

by Leslie Molinari Auriemma


I was born at Columbus Hospital, delivered by the late Dr. Cacciarelli. My first home was the first floor of a 4 family house, across from the city stadium on 10th Street, between First & Abington Avenues.  
My neighborhood was filled with many friends & more relatives. We celebrated not only all the civil holidays but religious holidays as well. Every "Saints' Day" was like Christmas, and when the real Christmas season was upon us, my Mom Gil, sister Bert & I would walk down Bloomfield Avenue to "Al's Esso", my Dad's gas station on 3rd Street, so we could hop on the trolley (subway) to go downtown.

I remember the excitement & expectation of going to visit Santa. I loved looking at the snowy, tinselly decorated windows at Bamberger's department store, with their animated seasonal mannequins and carols filling the air. I was always filled with awe & wonderment on that special day.

But, the holiday equally dear & memorable to me was Thanksgiving. Every year I awakened to find my street filled with an uncountable amount of people "lining up" for the Thanksgiving Day Parade. My Mom would dress me up in velvet & wool jodphers, coat, hat & muff to brave those cold Newark days while I watched the parade. I remember the gallons of hot cocoa & plates full of freshly baked cookies my Mom would make for the workers & paraders.

Most vivid in my mind, in addition to the sweet potato & chestnut vendors, is the Philadelphia Mummers. To see them all lined up in their peacock colored uniforms, with those tremendous over-sized Indian chief style headdresses that flowed into trains behind them, left me wide-eyed for days. I can still hear the ting, ting tingling of their tinny sounding xylophone like instruments.

All of this, followed by the Barringer-East Side football game completed the day. My Dad always had white Pom Pom flower corsages from the Washington Florist waiting for his "girls" when we awakened. They were decorated with a big blue "B" & a yellow jacket. We would wear them to the football game so everyone would know we were on Barringers' side. Needless to say, the Turkey dinner was a big let-down for me after the goings-on of the earlier day.

I still recall how upset I was when I learned we were moving to "Nutley"! Nutley? Where was Nutley? And, how could I ever celebrate Thanksgiving Day again, not ever seeing the parade outside my window? (Luckily for me, one of those many relatives I mentioned earlier, my Aunt Lena, also lived on 10th Street.

This is just one of the many, great memories I have of Newark; my origin.


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