‘Open Spaces, Historic Places’: New video shows sunny side of Morris County

Trailer for ‘Open Spaces & Historic Places in Morris County’:

 

If we ever have another winter like this one — perish the thought! — everyone should demand that NJTV air continuous broadcasts of Open Spaces & Historic Places in Morris County.

This sunny travelogue, which premiered Friday at the Morris Museum in Morris Township, is a cheery and welcome reminder that spring has not yet surrendered to the new Ice Age; winter still must ease its frosty grip. And when it does, Morris County residents and visitors will be rewarded for all those months of shivering under mountains of fleece.

Joe Conlon, Bob Szuter and Megan Gunning shoot scene from 'Open Spaces & Historic Places in Morris County.' Photo courtesy of Greener New Jersey Productions.

Joe Conlon, Bob Szuter and Megan Gunning shoot Jockey Hollow scene from ‘Open Spaces & Historic Places in Morris County.’ Photo courtesy of Greener New Jersey Productions.

The video lovingly captures the beauty of the Morristown Green, Jockey Hollow, Patriots Path, the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and Willowwood Arboretum, along with some history at Morristown’s Historic Speedwell, birthplace of the telegraph.

Mercifully, there is scarcely the hint of a cloud, let alone a snowflake. Birds and frogs work on their tans. Cyclists pedal blissfully. For 27 leisurely minutes, all is right with the world.

It’s the flip side to Morristown: Where America Survived, the last major video backed by S. Dillard and Adrienne Kirby. That stark 2009 documentary depicted the Continental Army’s desperate struggle to survive the worst winter on record, at Jockey Hollow in 1779-80.

“God created the spaces, and men and women developed the places,” Dillard Kirby told invited guests at Friday’s screening. “Let’s enjoy them. Let’s pass them on as good stewards. Let’s get our children, our grandchildren and our friends off the couch, and get them out there and start exploring!”

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Dillard, president of the Morristown-based F.M. Kirby Foundation, practices what he preaches. He said that he and his wife Adrienne, together with Kim and Finn Wentworth, co-funders of the Open Spaces project, have enjoyed many hikes through Jockey Hollow in the Morristown National Historical Park.

Both videos were produced by Bob Szuter.  For Open Spaces & Historic Places, he was part of a team assembled by Greener New Jersey Productions, a nonprofit that produces the series Fresh! and Parks along with other nature-themed programs for the Internet and public television.

The new video will air on NJTV on May 7, 9 and 11.

Most of the stunning images were recorded by Joe Conlon, who spent eight days shooting Open Spaces & Historic Places last year.

Host Megan Gunning with Eric Olsen, a National Park Service employee who is among the stars of 'Open Spaces & Historic Places in Morris County,' which premiered at the Morris Museum. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Host Megan Gunning with Eric Olsen, a National Park Service employee who is among the stars of ‘Open Spaces & Historic Places in Morris County,’ which premiered at the Morris Museum. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

There are cameos by Leslie Bensley, executive director of the Morris County Tourism Bureau; Glenn Coutts, president of the Trustees of the Morristown Green; Dave Helmer and Mark Sutherland from the Morris County Park Commission; and members of the Morris Area Freewheelers Bicycle Club, among others.

But the audience saved its biggest laughs for Eric Olsen, a re-enactor and historian for the National Park Service who has delighted a generation of visitors to Jockey Hollow.

With charm and wit, Eric endeavored to convince show host Megan Gunning –who lives near Valley Forge in Pennsylvania — that Jockey Hollow was the real star of the American Revolution.

Was Eric successful? Off-camera, Megan was diplomatic.

“He was so insightful,” she said, adding that the Great Swamp also impressed her. That segment, shot in October in a wilderness that almost became an airport, was full of frogs, turtles and snakes.

“All of the wildlife was really there,” Megan said. “It’s not like it was B-roll footage.”

Members of the team behind new documentary, 'Open Spaces & Historic Places in Morris County.' From left, Videographer Joe Conlon; Producer Bob Szuter; Host Megan Gunning, --, --, Michael Catania and JoAnne Ruscio of Greener New Jersey Productions; Executive Producers Dillard and Adrienne Kirby . Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Members of the team behind new documentary, ‘Open Spaces & Historic Places in Morris County.’ From left, Videographer Joe Conlon; Producer Bob Szuter; Host Megan Gunning; Trustee Greg Marshall of Greener New Jersey Productions; photographer Frank Foley; Michael Catania and JoAnne Ruscio, executive producer of Greener New Jersey Productions; funders Dillard and Adrienne Kirby. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

 

 

 



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