During a visit to her hometown of Woodbury, N.Y. during the Thanksgiving holiday in November, Tracey Kelly learned community members had painted holiday decorations on the windows of area businesses in a show of support of local merchants.
That sparked an idea of something she could do right here in Newark when she returned and involve Newark High School students, especially seniors, like her daughter Meghan Johnson, who have not be able to participate in many things they normally would during their senior year because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Kelly’s first call was to Joey Nicosia, owner of Joey’s Northside Market, who thought the idea was a great one and made a donation to help defray the cost of paints and other supplies the volunteer window decorating artists would use.
Marie Colacino, treasurer of the NHS Varsity Girls Volleyball Boosters, of which Kelly is also one, loved the idea and authorized a $100 donation for the cause.
Meanwhile Kelly made lots of calls to Newark merchants and as of the final date of the project December 17th, 28 merchants have either had their windows painted or other decorating done by some 28 NHS seniors, 14 Newark Middle School students that included some Girl Scout Troop 40530 members and 20 others, including adult community members who came alongside to help.
Participating businesses included: Save A Lot, Dance With Me Studios, National Sweepstakes Company, Canal View Family Restaurant, En Vogue Salon, Salvatore’s Old Fashioned Pizzeria, Angel’s Attic, CrossPark Family Restaurant, Marshall Exteriors, Doug Kent’s Rose Bowl Lanes, Pontillo’s Pizzeria, Siren’s Salon, Deb’s Craft and Things, Gurcan Tailor, Ruffalo Appliance, Love’s Furniture and Carpet, Marlock Electric, Woody’s Hometown Pizza, Premier Martial Arts, BB’s Pizzeria, Main Street Restaurant, Tom Wahl’s, Bodine’s Southend Market, Mason’s Barber Shop, Arcadia Thrift Shop, Parker’s Grille & Tap House and Revive Salon and Spa.
“I remember years ago when windows in downtown Newark were painted for the holidays and this project reminds me of that kind of community spirit,’’ Nicosia said, noting two of the windows in his store were painted. “They did a great job. I think this is a very good project for the kids to do.”
Besides the satisfaction and fun of participating, Kelly obtained permission from NHS Assistant Principal Jason Dentel for student volunteers to earn volunteer service hours toward their NHS Capstone Program graduation requirements.
Teri Pierce, who owns National Sweepstakes Company at l143 E Union St. had a snowman, some trees and a “Happy Holidays” greeting painted on a window at her business by Kelley’s daughter Meghan Johnson and friend Faythe Burns, also an NHS senior.
“Hopefully Newark keeps this up each year,’’ said Pierce. “This could be a really nice tradition.”
Pierce, and her daughter, Marek, an NHS freshman, along with McKenzie Peters, an NHS junior, her sister Hannah Peters, a freshman, and their Dad, Todd Peters, owner of Premier Marshall Arts at 800 West Miller Street that also had a window decorated by students, in turn volunteered to paint holiday decorations on windows at Pontillo’s Pizzeria at 120 E. Union Street and Gurcan Tailor at 115 E. Union Street.
“We had a great time. It was a lot of fun to get together with others and do something special for our community,’’ Pierce said.
Johnson and Burns also painted a window at Woody’s Hometown Pizza at 535 W. Union Street and helped paint 4 windows at Marshall Exteriors at 135 E. Union Street with Jensyn Cintron, an NHS senior and Montana Gahr, a Sodus High School junior.
“I think this was a good experience for us and the community,” Johnson said. “The merchants were very appreciative.”
NHS seniors Ryan Hermenet, Brenna Stefanides, Isabelle Figueroa, Jack Comella and Jaston Brooks, along with sophomore Jordan Brooks and 2019 grad Nadia Rothpearl painted three windows with “Peanuts” theme characters at the Canal View Family Restaurant at 247 West Union Street.
“We had a lot of fun. It was a greatway to work together and do something as friends with everything that’s happening with COVID,’’ Hermenet said. “The people at Canal View loved watching through the window as we painted. It is wonderful how our community came together and helped make our senior year as great as possible and that we could give something back to the community.”
See lots more photos of the great window decorations and volunteer artists at: facebook.com/villageofnewark