WHARTON, NJ – The Canal Day Festival continues to grow annually, and this year’s was no exception.
Canal Day is held annually at the Morris Canal Lock Two East restored and preserved stretch in Hugh Force Canal Park. This stretch of the idyllic canal is typically enjoyed with those who might like to walk, jog, and take in the natural attributes. On Saturday, attendees were able to do just that, and also take in free kayak and narrated boat rides, wagon rides, and so much more.
The park was packed with vendors on Saturday, August 23, with a bevy of items for sale like sparkling stained glass good from The Stained Glass Garden, as well as food goods, ranging from sausage and pepper sandwiches to barbecue to gyros to an bottomless cup of soda from Soda City, a stand that with a purchase of a silver-colored mug, a person could refill throughout the day.
Other vendors and organizations were there, sharing with members of the public information about their businesses and organizations. The Wharton Library offered a basket for giveaway, filled with books. Dr. Gloria Patino and staff from The Attentive Dentist LLC was one, and was handing out bags to passerbys. Joshu David Castro the head instructor at Tiger Schulmann’s Mixed Martial Arts had free martial arts class cards for kids in attendance, representatives from the Wharton PTO offered free bottles of water, Innovative Insurance Group was by the gazebo with giveaways, New York Life agents including Carol Maria Cho had games and giveaways at their booth, Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultants and Sales Director Meaghan Lockart Lerner hosted a drawing at their booth, and Masha Duda the Senior Community Manager at Avalon Wharton offered information about the luxurious new apartment complex. Actors from The Haunted Scarehouse and the house’s marketing director, Jeff Perosi were on hand to pose for photos and answer questions about the Halloween attraction in Wharton.
Animals were one of the highlights for many, from pony rides to Wallaby Tales Traveling Zoo, to the Morris County Sheriff’s Office K-9 demonstration, to posing with a New Jersey Search & Rescue Dog. Rides atop an elephant named Tiny was something attendees could participate in for a fee. Wolf Visions also brought along one of their beautiful wolves, who basked in the sun, and greeted people enthusiastically with paws atop their shoulders. Even four-legged friends who walked around were able to have treats, as one of the vendors, Me & My Dog Pet Bakery, had doggie delectables for sale.
Other special events included blacksmith demonstrations by Bill Barrett of the New Jersey Blacksmiths Association, a Civil War Reenactment by the 27th Regt. New Jersey Vol. Infantry Co. F., the ability to try out Picatinny Arsenal’s robots from the group’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit, D2W Professional Wrestling, and a fireworks spectacular at 7 p.m at Robert Street Park.
The “Rock the Canal” Music Festival is another spectacular that was originally at the gazebo, but has now grown to the railroad trestle stage, with two shows at the same time. Bands included: Kenny Young Band, Nikki Briar, John Rango of Eco Fission & Friends, Son of Dov, double-breasted, Shoes Down, The Wag, Bon Temps Brass Band, Tom Kildea, Windsor Circle, and Traditional and Contemporary Irish Music with Ed Saultz & Terry Hartsell.
Resident John Manna, who spearheads the effort annually, works tirelessly each year to connect with sponsors and organize the many activities. Sponsors for the event this year include: the Borough of Wharton, Saint Clare’s Heaht System, Picatinny Federal Credit Union, Whitlock Packaging Corporation, 1450 WCTC, The Home Depot, Innovative Insurance Group, Ramsey Outdoor, Costco Wholesale, Capital One, The Canal House, Avalon Bay Communities Inc. Mark Anthony Productions, Michael Obremski (Jersey Central Power and Light Area Manager), Ayers Chevrolet, ShopRite of Wharton, and Skylands Visitor.
The Morris Canal’s Lock 2 East was one of the locks and inclined planes that contributed to this marvel-engineering feat, which was the world’s highest climbing canal during its heyday, with elevation changes taller than the Empire State Building. The canal was built beginning in 1825 and was abandoned in 1924, to give way to faster modes of transportation. The Borough of Wharton purchased the lock site and properties in 1926 from the State of New Jersey, and began restoration in 1976 of the canal prism area. This section of the Morris Canal is one of the few left that has remained preserved, and is similarly intact to how the canal was in its golden age.
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