Centennial Village Group keeps Cranford beautiful

CRANFORD, NJ — The Centennial Village Group is named for the Centennial Village business area, located on Centennial Avenue between Lincoln Avenue and the Garden State Parkway. It consists of volunteers who are dedicated to improving and maintaining the appearance of Cranford. The group hosts several fundraising events in order to sustain their efforts. They work with business owners and political leaders to improve the appearance of Cranford and revitalize the Centennial Avenue Corridor.

On June 5, the Centennial Village Group had its fourth annual Centennial Village Velocity 5K. In 2011, the group had its first 5K which attracted more than 240 participants. A Toute Heure, one of the businesses in Centennial Village business area, provided racers with a tasty reward after the event along with massages from Neos Zoe. The top three male and female runners received a prize and medals.

Awards were given to the top three males and females according to their age group. For the first time this year, there will also be a prize for the best decorated Cranford-spirited stroller. With the mayor’s wellness campaign underway, the group expects an even bigger turnout this year.

A Toute Heure owners Jim and Andrea Carbine recently opened another business venture called 100 Steps Supper Club. They are one of the many featured businesses that works with the group. The Centennial Avenue MusicFest features the music of local artists. It’s another one of the group’s most successful annual fundraising events. It also promotes local business owners to the community.

Many residents will continue to participate in these events to show their support for the group and the town of Cranford.

“I ran in the group’s annual Velocity 5K race last year and that’s how I found out about the Centennial Village Group,” said Cranford resident Andi Howard-Rein “I was looking for a way to get involved in my town, and this has allowed me to do just that. It’s been a great way to get to know more about Cranford, as well as meet people in the area. I’ve enjoyed heading up the PR efforts for this year’s Velocity 5K, and am looking forward to getting more involved as we continue with our projects. Each year we have two major fundraising events: the Velocity 5K race in June, and MusicFest in September. They’re family-friendly events that are fun for all ages.”

Some of the recent accomplishments made by the group include sidewalk and curb renovation, seasonal landscaping, flower and shrubbery replacement, decorative welcome signs, street lamps and park benches.

“We also have many ongoing beautification efforts, such as planting flowers along Centennial Avenue every Spring, and hanging holiday decorations in the winter,” Rein said. “One project in the works is the creation of a mural to be painted in the Centennial Village area. It will depict the history and quintessential aspects of Cranford and the Centennial Village. My favorite thing about this project is that one of the groups we have been working with to design the mural is the graphics design class at Cranford High School.”

Chiara Siliato is the leader of the group and there are currently more projects underway for the group to complete. Rein was new to the Cranford community, and the Centennial Village Group gave her the opportunity to get to know people and familiarize herself with the town. The group made her feel welcome and allowed her to make a positive contribution to her new community.

“The committee is made up of residents of the area and we love the area and we’re trying to revitalize that section of the town,” said group leader Chiara Siliato. “A lot of focus goes into the real downtown, but this is looked at as a downtown too, and we’re trying to tell people that there are things here.”