Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Holiday Cheer

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Holiday Cheer

Article excerpt

MIDLAND PARK – Boys with hammers can make Christmas bright.

At least they do in Midland Park, where some 60 Cub Scouts and parents were out at 9 a.m. Saturday, pounding stakes into the ground to hold the borough's annual display of cartoon and seasonal characters on the grounds of the Ridgewood Water substation on Godwin Avenue between Witte Drive and Paterson Avenue.

"It's a wonderful tradition," said Borough Council President Lorraine De Luca, who stopped by for a closer look. "I've been coming for 30 years. The residents look forward to this every year and are grateful to the Cub Scouts for doing it."

The display has been in Midland Park since the 1950's. It was first assembled by the Fire Department, and since the 1970s by the Cub Scouts. Generations of residents pass it each year, looking forward to its appearance the Saturday after Thanksgiving as the first herald of the coming season.

"I've been waiting to do this since I was 5," said Teddy Parker, now 9, among the Cub Scouts sliding the figures over support spikes driven into the ground. "Every year, I'd ask, 'When do I get to do this?'"

The dozens of plywood figures — no one has an exact count — were the work of Glen Rock architect Carl Kemm-Loven, who cut them out and painted them in the 1940s, said former Councilman and Mayor Patrick "Bud" O'Hagan.

"There were originally 150-200 figures, including two full sets of playing cards from Disney's 'Alice in Wonderland' movie, but some have gotten lost or broken along the way," said O'Hagan. "Carl originally displayed them on his house property on Rock Road, but when the traffic built up too much they were moved to a bank."

The figures were moved several more times to more suitable display areas in Garfield and Fair Lawn before finally making their way to Midland Park, where they were sold to the borough for $1.

"Finally, the Fire Department was going to sell them when they moved to the new firehouse," said O'Hagan. "So I went to the mayor and said we've got to save these figures — they put Midland Park on the map."

O'Hagan got help from the Lions Club in 1976 to store the figures and assist with assembly. He credits his wife, Janet, with coming up with the idea a few years later of making the assembly into a project for the Scouts and parents. …

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