Greater Morristown Memorial Weekend preview: Parades and wreaths, and maybe some music and soccer

 Compiled by Katrina Langer and Kevin Coughlin

The first “unofficial” summer holiday–the Memorial Day Weekend–is upon us.

Giant flag flies over the Morris County Memorial Day program in Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Giant flag flies over the 2013 Morris County Memorial Day program in Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

If you have decided to skip traffic this year, you can find plenty of things to do around Greater Morristown.

Remember our fallen heroes at ceremonies and parades in Morris Plains, Morris Township/Morristown and Harding. Take a vet horseback riding. Delve into Civil War history.

There is a kids soccer clinic, too. And if you have a couple gallons of gas, there is a pretty intimate folk festival.

And don’t forget to check our handy calendar for even more entertainment choices!


THURSDAY, MAY 22, 2014:

At the North Jersey Civil War Round Table’s 116th meeting, Barnet Schecter will discuss his book, The Devil’s Own Work, and the cataclysmic events culminating in the New York City draft riots of 1863. And then the group will discuss possible dates for a bus tour of the riot sites — led by the one and only Barnet Schecter. As always, the meeting convenes at 7:14 pm at the Haggerty Education Center at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum, at 353 E. Hanover Ave. in Morris Township. Admission is $5; first time guests and students are free.

Drip Coffee, at 46 S. Park Place on the Green, is hosting an art reception, from 7:30 pm to 9 pm


FRIDAY, MAY 23:

J. Robert Tracey speaks at 2012 Memorial Day ceremony on the Morristown Green. Photo by Bill Lescohier

The late J. Robert Tracey speaks at 2012 Memorial Day ceremony on the Morristown Green. Photo by Bill Lescohier

Get a jump on the holiday weekend at Morris County’s annual Memorial Day ceremony, starting at noon on the front lawn of the Morris County Courthouse on Washington Street. Harry Ettlinger of Rockaway Township, one of the original Monuments Men of World War II, will speak. Eleven veterans will receive the Morris County Distinguished Military Service Medal.

Between Friday night and Sunday afternoon the Folk Project’s Acoustic Getaway will pack in three concerts, 40 workshops and countless jam sessions. Featured performers include guitar wizard Frank Vignola, Grammy-winning songwriter Julie Gold and ukulele goddess Victoria Vox. It all happens in a bucolic camp near Hackettstown. Passes are scarce, but you just might squeeze in. The full weekend, with lodging and meals, costs about $200. Sunday-only day passes are $65. Children and students get discounts. Registration details are here.

FRUSTRATED BALLET DANCERS? Watch the video of Vinny Raniolo and Frank Vignola and judge for yourself. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

JUST FOR KICKS,  Vinny Raniolo, left, and Frank Vignola, will headline at the Folk Project’s Acoustic Getaway. File photo by Kevin Coughlin

SATURDAY, MAY 24:

The Big Banana Car. Photo by Liz O'Neill, courtesy of BigBananaCar.com

The Big Banana Car is coming to the Morris Plains Memorial Parade. Photo by Liz O’Neill, courtesy of BigBananaCar.com

The 28th annual Memorial Day Parade in Morris Plains begins after a traditional memorial service at 9 am, at Robert’s Garden (at the corner of Glenbook Road and Mountain Way).  The parade rolls from there, heading south on Mountain Way to Rosedale Avenue, north along Speedwell past the reviewing stand, continuing north on Littleton Road to Route 53, where it ends with a cookout at the Watnong VFW Post.

The Denville String Band, pictured here in 2011, is a highlight of the Memorial Day Parade in Morris Plains. Photo by Hal Crosthwaite

The Denville String Band, pictured here in 2011, is a highlight of the Memorial Day Parade in Morris Plains. Photo by Hal Crosthwaite

Grand Marshals this year are the Morris Plains Beautification Committee, and Morris Plains Firefighter Don Geary. One hundred marching units include 15 bands. And a new addition is sure to please: Tom Brown and his custom Big Banana Car, coming all the way from Michigan. And there is a Big Banana Bonus. After the parade, Tom will peel around the borough with a bunch of local raffle winners.

Morris Plains residents and businesses decorated the parade route in red, white and blue.

Morris Plains residents and businesses decorated the parade route in red, white and blue in 2012.

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey presents The Tempest at Drew University, at 36 Madison Ave. in Madison. The Bard’s farewell masterpiece blends a stormy plot and beautiful poetry. Shows at 2 pm and 8 pm on Saturday, and at 2 pm and 7:30 pm on Sunday. Tickets are $15-$75; please call 973-408-5600 for more information.


SUNDAY, MAY 25:

The Tempest continues at the Shakespeare Theatre in Madison, with shows at  2 pm and 7:30 pm. See Saturday entry for details.


MONDAY, MAY 26, MEMORIAL DAY:

The Morristown-Morris Township Veterans Committee will mark Memorial Day by laying wreaths and plaques at local cemeteries at 8 am, following by a 10 am service in front of the Morris Township Municipal Building. The annual parade starts at 10:30 am from the Municipal Building ( with music from the Morristown High School band), and concludes at the Morristown Green at 11 am, for another service. Call 973-267-5433 for more information.

United States veterans ride for free at Seaton Hackney Stables between 9 am and 8 pm, when accompanied by a paying family member.  The stables are at 440 South St. in Morris Township. Please schedule in advance by calling 973-644-3355.

One more parade, the annual Harding Township Memorial Day Parade, begins at 9:30 am from the Harding Township Elementary School. The Harding Civic Association once again will host a “Volunteer Fair” at the conclusion of the parade. All Harding-based civic organizations and township committees can showcase their activities and recruit members.

CONQUERING HERO: Red Bulls soccer player Connor Lade, Morristown High Class of '08, returned to his alma mater to give a Memorial Day soccer clinic. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

CONQUERING HERO: Red Bulls soccer player Connor Lade, Morristown High Class of ’08, will returned to his alma mater for another Memorial Day soccer clinic. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

The New York Red Bulls will host a soccer clinic for Morristown children from 3 pm to 5 pm at the Morristown High School turf field, at 50 Early St. Morristown High School graduate and Red Bulls player Connor Lade will participate. Sponsored by the Morristown Neighborhood House, the event is anticipated to attract 75 youths between 8-10 year olds. More details are at the Neighborhood House website.