Clifton Senior Barbecue - The Start of a New Tradition


photo credit: Barbara James

The first – and hopefully not last – Clifton Senior Barbecue was a smashing success! Last Friday dawned sunny, dry, and crisp with just a hint of a breeze, perfect weather for an outdoor event. Tents and tables were set up the night before just outside the Senior Barn where decorations fluttered a welcome.

Clifton’s seniors, dressed casually and comfortably, lined up to check in and get seated. Many found friends to sit with, some had brought spouses or friends with them, and the sounds of happy chatter promised good times ahead.

Although there was a bit of confusion at the start, with guests not sure where to go and the staff trying to direct them, after the first few minutes everything settled down. The music started and a DJ played hits of the 40s, 50s, and 60s and urged the crowd to “Get up and dance!” Some did, laughing about needing to burn off all those calories from the delicious food that was offered. Zumba instructor Yudy Bechara demonstrated Senior Zumba with some of her regulars who danced up a storm, laughing and showing off the moves they’ve been learning in the free class she teaches on Thursdays at 3:00 at the Senior Barn.

But it wasn’t all fun and games, as various organizations had tables set up that were relevant to health and wellness, legal services, social services, as well as city and county departments. Sponsors had donated all the food which included hot dogs, pierogies, salads, snacks and appetizers, and an amazing, decadent spread of desserts ranging from fresh fruit to cookies, brownies, and pastries.

Walking through the crowd, whether at the picnic tables set up for lunch or the many booths and exhibits, The Clifton Times overheard laughter, old friends greeting one another, the occasional scolding…"Do you really need that third brownie?” but most of all, compliments about the setup and all that was available for the seniors. Gene said it was a bit confusing at first since this was a brand-new event, “But once it got started, it was so good.” Asked what he liked best, he grinned and said, “The dancing sheriffs!” Although the Clifton Times was not there to witness (or photograph it) apparently some of the Sherriff Department staffers showed off some very cool moves. If anyone has pictures, please send them in!

And speaking of dancing, “Zumba Yudy” took the microphone during a break for the DJ and asked, “Where’s my dancing ladies?” In just seconds, a few brave souls looked around, started dancing, and were soon joined by others with spectators clapping along and some even getting up and swaying to the music.

“So much fun!” laughed Ellen, and her friends agreed that it was a great way to end the summer. “Really well done,” added Alice, who said she wished “We’d had this years ago when I was young enough to get up and dance!” She added that she was delighted that so many of the exhibitors gave immediate results on hearing tests, blood pressure, and glucose tests done by Hackensack Meridian Health and Mountainside Medical Center.

As a few puffy clouds scudded across the sky and the temperature started to drop a few degrees, happy and fed, people drifted away, perhaps with some goodies like new tote bags and material to read when they got home.

The event was coordinated and managed by the Clifton Health Department and dozens of volunteers reached out to help. The needs of seniors are unique and complex, affecting them mentally, physically, financially, and practically. The city offers many programs and assistance and the effort was made at the picnic to educate these Clifton residents about the many programs available to them. It was as much about awareness of all the city and county has to offer as it was about food, fun, and music.

Food was donated by the Allwood Diner, Bimbo’s Bakery, Dunkin’ on Valley Road in Clifton, Dymski Pierogis in Wallington, Kamil's Restaurant, Lakeview Bagels, Starbucks in Midland Park, The Brownstone, and the Original Jumbo's. Paper goods were donated by Economy Restaurant Supply.

Vendors included AAA (Automobile Association), Alpha Care Home Health Services, Amerigroup, Center for Vein Restoration, Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine and Mountainside Medical Center, Northeast New Jersey Legal Services, Colonial Pharmacy, and New Jersey Citizens Action.

Passaic County organizations included the Passaic County Sherriff Department, Mental Health Association of Passaic County, Passaic County Board of Social Services, and the Passaic County Department of Health Services.

Clifton organizations included Power of OneSaint Peter's HavenCity Green, Clifton Advisory Committee for Individuals with Disabilities, Clifton Against Substance Abuse (CASA), Clifton Arts Center, Clifton Office of Emergency Management, Clifton Public Library, Clifton Public Works Department, and the Clifton Recreation Department.

The Clifton Times thanks everyone involved for looking out for Clifton’s Senior population; nicely done!

I'm interested
I disagree with this
This is unverified