What a blast yesterday! I went to Schuetzen Hall for the official announcement yesterday, and had a great time. I had a feeling it would be more party than meeting, so I arrived a bit early. The parking lot was already packed and almost every table was full. The hall was set up like a banquet with flower arrangements on the tables, tons of balloons and a cash bar at the back. Each table had a tray of sandwiches and a tray of finger foods. There was also a band playing, and they were really good. I'm going to have to find out who they were.
I wandered around looking for familiar faces, but didn't see many - it was actually a bit dark, and too crowded to do much walking around, so I made my way to a table of nice old ladies and asked if I could join them. They had all come in from North Bergen, and all of them knew Mayor Stack from when he was a kid.
After sitting and getting my bearings and meeting my tablemates, I walked around again to take some photos. Of course, battery failure right then so I only took a few shots, none of them great. While I was walking around, I saw a woman standing around the bar looking lost, so I went up and introduced myself. Turns out she was feeling a bit lost, not having anticipated a party, expecting more of a town-hall meeting. She stood out a bit in the mostly Latino crowd, being quite tall, thin and very blond. She came over and joined us at our table and we had a chance to chat. The funny coincidence is that I had noticed her on the street a week before. I was standing at the bus stop and saw her taking her kids to the car, and said to my husband - look! Another Manhattanite has just moved in. I was wrong, she's from Hoboken, but close enough.
We were also joined at our table by a nice man. I didn't catch his name, but I think I've seen him at Union City First. He's a radiologist, and he works in Hoboken. He's also involved with St. Augestine's Church in Union City.
By this time, the band was done and the procession music started. A bit corny, but fun. They played the theme from Rocky, and everyone stood up and starting cheering. A bit of a let down when nothing further happened, but the crowd didn't care. Every stayed on their feet for the next song - We Will Rock You by Queen. At this point, the mayor and his entourage started making their way in, but it was slow progress. I wonder if he felt like Lady Gaga? He couldn't walk with the cameras in his face and everyone reaching out to him. More cheering and thunderous applause as Mayor Stack and the Board of Commissioners made their way down the carpet. The balloons didn't quite release, and the carpet was a bit too crowded to let everyone get through well, but small details slightly grating to my production background.
The panel of dignitaries was introduced and I can't remember everyone. I know that the Hoboken Mayor was there, the North Bergen Mayor, Police Chief Everett, the first Latino state Senator, and a bunch more. Everyone had very good things to say about Mayor Brian Stack. After the dignitaries came the Commissioners and I saw not just a rising star, but someone who will be a force. Chris Irizarry is headed for big things. That guy is such a great public speaker and so charismatic. He is also funny, especially when he's speaking in Spanish rather than English. From what my tablemates told me (the North Bergen ladies posse) he comes from humble beginnings, and has been mentored by Mayor Brian Stack. Good for him, I'm excited to follow his political career.
Mayor Brian Stack finally took the stage, and I thought the roof might come off the hall. The only reason that it didn't is that his mic gave out a few minutes in, and there was a delay while a working mic was found. Again, the kind of detail that would make me crazy. I would have tested and prepped a round of backups. Mayor Stack spoke very well, and had the crowd totally behind me.
By this time, I was starting to get a bit claustrophobic and hot, so I invited my new friend Rachel to stop by for a drink on our way home. She only lives two blocks away, so we made our way out of the hall and back to real life.
I'm really proud to live in Union City, and I'm really proud of Mayor Brian Stack and the commissioners. They work very hard, and you can't deny their enthusiasm for the tough job at hand. I'm already anticipating crap posts from the Hasta La Vista blog. I wish I could meet that dude and say - if you have a problem with Mayor Stack, give him a call and talk it out. I'll even dial the number for you! No city is perfect, and politics is a messy business. But I say you either put up by running yourself, or jump in and try and make differences where you can.
But then, as the theme of this blog says - I'm a Canuck living in the US. Canadians have a different sensibility when it comes to opposition. We oppose, but we don't have the mindset of smear. We have the mindset of 'if you think you can do it better, have at 'er!'
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