During pandemic, father and daughter walk around all of Roselle

Photo Courtesy of Joe Skrec
Ashley and Joe Skrec walked every street in Roselle in an 18-day period during July.

ROSELLE — Two Roselle residents recently completed a journey on foot they won’t soon forget.

Joe Skrec, 54, and his daughter, Ashley Skrec, 23, recently completed a walking route that literally covered every street in the Borough of Roselle, from St. George Avenue to West — and East — First Avenue and from Amsterdam Avenue to Park Avenue and every thoroughfare and side street in between.

“We literally walked past every house in town,” said Joe Skrec, an assistant principal and girls basketball coach at Roselle Catholic High School, his alma mater. “There isn’t a street, including dead ends, we didn’t cover. If we were ever unsure about whether or not we walked down a street, we walked it again just to be sure. And that happened a few times.”

To achieve its summer strolling goal, the father–daughter duo walked the sidewalks and streets of Roselle for 18 days in July. The journey included a loop around the 1.75-mile path inside Warinanco Park.

“There were so many highlights from our route around Roselle that it’s hard to pick just one,” Ashley Skrec said of her favorites. “Some of the top contenders included discovering streets I’ve never been down before — I didn’t realize something so simple would be so exciting to me — and passing by and exchanging greetings with friendly neighbors and Roselle residents.

“My dad and I set ourselves a goal and it feels amazing to say we achieved it.”

The Skrec duo averaged 5 miles per day around Roselle, often in sweltering conditions, with a combined total of 90.79 miles walked over 18 days in the borough. The Skrecs believe they saw a congratulatory Class of 2020 graduation sign for practically every mile walked on their expedition.

Ashley Skrec might have played basketball for her father at RC — the Lions won the Union County Tournament during her junior season in 2014 — but she was the one providing direction for the team on this journey. Valedictorian of Roselle Catholic’s Class of 2015, she is pursuing a master’s degree at Kean University and planned the daily route to cover as much new territory and as many new blocks as possible.

At the conclusion of each walk, and after getting rehydrated, Ashley Skrec put a different color marker to map each day, chronicling the just-completed journey. She also kept track of the number of miles and steps covered, which she tracked daily on her watch.

“I really enjoyed updating the map after each walk,” she said. “It served as a great visual of how close we were coming to achieving our goal. It was such a great experience that my dad and I were able to bond over. In fact, it was so great that I am kind of sad it is coming to an end. Fortunately, we have the map to look back on and familiar streets to stroll down again when our schedules allow.”

The Skrecs started walking on a near-daily basis soon after the coronavirus pandemic struck and the mandatory quarantine altered the schedules and routines to which their family had long been accustomed.

Initially, the walks took them from streets and sidewalks to paths in Union County parks, both in and out of Roselle.

The goal of walking every street in the first village to be lit by Thomas Edison was sparked by a family friend, Maureen Hagan, who had previously accomplished the feat.
Allison Skrec, 28, joined her sister and father on a handful of the walks around Roselle.

“It was always cool to hear from my dad and sister about the streets in Roselle that we’ve never been down or heard about even after living in Roselle for more than 15 years,” said Allison Skrec, a member of the Roselle Catholic Class of 2010 who returned to work full time at her alma mater last September.

When they returned to East Fourth Avenue following each walk, Ashley Skrec usually provided an enthusiastic recap to her siblings, Allison and Michael Skrec, 29; her Mom, Laura Skrec; and her grandmother, Fran Maire.

“Our family is proud to live in Roselle, and my dad and Ashley took a lot of pride in this 18-day adventure,” Allison Skrec said. “Most days, my dad and Ashley were out of the door by 6:30 a.m., because they both have busy schedules, but they wanted to be sure to get their walk in.”

With school bells ringing in September, the Skrec family’s schedule is expected to be much busier, but the father–daughter duo hopes to find time for more walking around Roselle.

“I strongly encourage anyone who has interest in walking and pride in their hometown to try and walk every single street,” Ashley Skrec said. “If it was anything like our journey, it will be a combination of finding appreciation for roads and landmarks you may have never known existed and walking down memory lane.”