Cranford residents celebrate township’s 150th anniversary

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CRANFORD, NJ — Deputy Mayor Brian Andrews wasn’t going to let a cool windy day mar the observance of Cranford’s sesquicentennial at a ceremony on Sunday, March 14.

“We’re here celebrating our 150th anniversary,” Andrews said that day. “We were founded on this day, 150 years ago, in the wake of a Civil War, and we just want to acknowledge what we’ve been through the last 150 years, particularly the last horrible year, and what we plan to do going forward.

“It was a great ceremony,” he continued. “It’s good seeing so many folks out on a beautiful day, and we have a lot of town pride and a strong community. I think this recognizes that.”

According to the proclamation, which was signed on Tuesday, March 9, by Cranford Mayor Kathleen Miller Prunty, in the decades that followed its incorporation, Cranford’s growth into a municipality includes highly regarded public safety agencies, a successful downtown area, many recreation opportunities for residents, various events and traditions, a strong sense of civic pride and a host of other achievements. In honor of this anniversary, the ceremony was only the beginning of a year of celebratory events planned by the township.

“Every town, every city has a culture,” Assemblyman John Bramnick said on Sunday, March 14, during his speech at the ceremony. “What is the culture in Cranford? It’s nice and really down-to-earth people. You’ve heard that, year after year, and that’s what makes Cranford special. I hope, for another 150 years, that continues to be the reputation — where neighbors care about neighbors and everyone is grounded. God bless Cranford.”

Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz echoed the sentiment, expressing how wonderful and resilient Cranford’s people are through whatever adversity they face.

“I’m hopeful that people are getting vaccinated and we’re going to be able to celebrate without constraint as we go forward,” said Munoz on Sunday, March 14. “I’m sure that we will, because we’ll be outside and enjoying each other’s company and really get to appreciate this town.”

Township Committee member Mary O’Connor fondly recalled her upbringing in the township.

“I think this is wonderful,” O’Connor said on Sunday, March 14. “This is a great way to kick off a year that we’re going to be celebrating Cranford. This is a town that I grew up in, and I’m very happy to represent the people of Cranford. I think that you can see, just from the excitement today generated, that people are really looking forward to having a year that we can celebrate our wonderful town.”

“This is a kickoff celebration of the 150th anniversary of Cranford being incorporated as a community, and it’s been an extraordinary 150 years. I’m sure it’ll be an extraordinary next 150 years. This is an extraordinary event,” state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. said on Sunday, March 14. “It’s great to see so many people come out and celebrate the community. We talk so much about families and friends and history together. This is what makes this community so strong.

“So many have people come in, shared stories and shared fellowship. This really shows the strength of the community,” he continued. “So many people who are here are still here, talking to people, catching up and talking so much about things that are important to them and their families. It’s great.”

The nearby ice-cream shop, Vanilla Bean Creamery, celebrated the anniversary in partnership with Front Line Assistance Group by giving away free ice cream to 150 customers.

Ralph Kopelman, owner of Vanilla Bean Creamery, spoke of his store’s success and how it was able to put a smile on many faces, both young and old.

“It was Cranford’s 150th birthday celebration. In coordination with FLAG, we were able to give out some free ice cream,” Kopelman said on Monday, March 15. “This was for the first 150 people and it was only for March 14. We wound up giving out more ice cream. Instead of 150 people, which was originally planned, it was 250 people.

“It was wonderful. Everyone was very enthusiastic,” he added. “Who isn’t happy to get a free cup of ice cream? I think it went very well. It was a great day.”

Photos by EmilyAnn Jackman