HAWTHORNE, N.J. -- After being named the fourth most boring place to live in New Jersey in 2014 by a real estate website, the Borough of Hawthorne, population 19,000, has been working to become a more lively destination. Its most evident achievement toward that goal is an outdoor bandshell the borough began using last year for live events such as doo-wop shows and movie nights.
The bandshell committee, led by borough attorney Michael Pasquale, tentatively has another eight or nine events in the pipeline for this summer, with six or seven music events and three movies being considered, but nothing definite yet.
Other examples of activities that perk up interest include two parades a year -- the Santa parade and the Memorial Day parade -- Hawthorne Day, a daylong show of town pride, and a fishing day sponsored by the local chamber of commerce.
“There are all sorts of things to do,” said Mayor Richard S. Goldberg, who also notes that a streetscape project to spiff up a section of downtown will be starting in the spring.
But Goldberg says he doesn't mind keeping the town out of the limelight.
“I like being boring, because that means no one’s paying attention to us,” he said.
But there were areas where the town felt it could improve.
The report by Movoto noted that Hawthorne is home to the popular Hawthorne Caballeros Drum and Bugle Corps, whose name now dons borough welcome signs, but that there’s not much in the way of things to do, especially in terms of live music. Hence, the bandshell and the activities there.
But Goldberg doesn’t want to change the character of the community just to be considered less boring.
“One of the other things mentioned is we don’t have is any fast-food chain restaurants, which I don’t think is a bad thing. I think our restaurants are terrific,” he said.
“Hawthorne is a fascinating place. People think we’re dull; we just stay under the radar. There are a lot of wonderful things in this town. We’re a great volunteer community. When there is someone that needs our help, we come together as a community. We call ourselves the hidden gem of Passaic County. But then every town calls themselves the hidden gem of Passaic County.
“I used to refer to us as Mayberry. Even though we’re next to the third largest city in New Jersey, we’re still a small town.”