On Sunday, November 1, go to Liberty State Park to ride your bike, enjoy fantastic live music, watch awesome kite-flying, and just hang out. It won’t cost you a dime — for now, anyway. The nonprofit group Friends of Liberty State Park (FOLSP) aims to keep things that way, which is the message of their protest event. Sam Pesin, FOLSP president, asks Jersey City residents to attend and “Show their support for a free and green, non-privatized, non-commercialized Liberty State Park.”
Word of the park’s possible privatization first broke back in January, after language was quietly slipped into a state bill which shifted oversight of the park away from New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). In the months since, politicians have insisted that the DEP is still in charge of the park, but talk of commercialization hasn’t been silenced. A major sticking point, according to Pesin. “The DEP got a report filled with development proposals a year ago, and has refused to release that report,” he said. “The public has a right to see all the proposals.”
Don’t expect an afternoon of speeches, however. The goal on November 1 is to show solidarity while enjoying the park to its fullest. In addition to the bike ride, bands, and kites, there will be face painting, food trucks (Chopping Block, The Green Radish, and Eno’s Pizza) and hot apple cider from Cider Fusion. All ages are welcome, and so are costumes!
The Liberty State Park “Solidarity Bike Ride” & “Rock Against Privatization” protest events on November 1, 2015, will take place in and around the Historic Central Railroad Terminal. Photo courtesy Friends of Liberty State Park
The day’s first scheduled activity is the solidarity bike ride at noon. Registration begins at 10:30 am. Meet at the Historic Central Railroad Terminal (1 Audrey Zapp Dr.) at the end of the cobblestone road. The scenic route covers some of the areas in the park that are in danger of being privatized, and the full ride will be approximately 10K. To participate, cyclists need to be at least 10 years old and sign a waiver prior to the ride; helmets are strongly encouraged.
Chris Englese, co-founder and board president of the advocacy group Bike JC, explains, “We’re doing a solidarity ride to send a message to Trenton, and the governor, and all those who are looking at Liberty State Park as a moneymaker instead of what it is, a national treasure and a beautiful green open space.” (Bike JC, Grove Street Bicycles and Rock-it Docket are supporters of the event, as is the American Kitefliers Association.)
Englese stressed that the park means a great deal to local cyclists. “To many of us, it’s literally an oasis in the middle of our urban jungle,” he said. Contrasting the park with the city’s population density, Englese added, “It’s really an opportunity to be able to ride without having to be on-guard, and to truly just go out and enjoy the open space, because there is so little of that in this immediate area.”
As far as the November 1 ride, Englese reminds everyone that “there’s an extra hour of sleep” because Daylight Saving Time is ending. “Get there a little bit early, do a couple of loops around the park for a good cause, enjoy some great music after, and send a message to Trenton,” he said.
DEVI performing at Groove on Grove. DEVI is one of the bands slated to play the Liberty State Park privatization protest concert on November 1, 2015. Photo Jack Silbert
The Milwaukees are one of the bands slated to play the Liberty State Park privatization protest concert on November 1, 2015. Photo courtesy the Milwaukees
The music is slated to begin at 1 pm, following some brief remarks on the fight against privatization. Performances by four bands will be coordinated by (all together now…) “Dancing Tony” Susco of the Rock-it Docket. Debra Devi, guitar shredder and frontwoman of the eponymous DEVI, gave us a sneak preview of the sounds on-tap: “The Milwaukees just plain rock!” she exclaimed. “The Karyn Kuhl Band is both dreamy and raw, thanks to Karyn’s powerful voice and ripping guitar. DEVI plays soulful, jamming bluesrock — think Sheryl Crow meets Gov’t Mule! And the Sensational Country Blues Wonders play authentic old-school blues and country.”
As a resident and as a musician, the fight for Liberty State Park is a personal one for Devi. “I live in Jersey City and love it here deeply. We have a passionate and mutually supportive arts and music scene unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. This is an congested area, though, that needs the wide open space and peace that Liberty State Park provides,” she explained.
“This park has been a jewel for the state of New Jersey,” stated Mayor Fulop. “Any formal steps to attempt to privatize would be a black eye for our entire state and all of our residents.”
Sam Pesin and the Friends of Liberty State Park won’t give up, but they do need your help. “This event is an important opportunity to show Trenton officials that there is a powerful passion for the park to be a free and green open space for all to enjoy together,” Pesin said. “Come out to say: We love the park, and we’re going to fight for it.”
The Karyn Kuhl Band performing at the Lumber Yard. The Karyn Kuhl Band is one of the bands slated to play the Liberty State Park privatization protest concert on November 1, 2015. Photo Jack Silbert
The Sensational Country Blues Wonders performing at the Parkside Lounge, NYC. The Sensational Country Blues Wonders is one of the bands slated to play the Liberty State Park privatization protest concert on November 1, 2015. Photo courtesy Project Greenville
10:30 am — bike ride registration begins
12:00 – 12:45 pm — solidarity bike ride in Liberty State Park
12:55 pm — opening remarks
1:00 pm — The Milwaukees
2:00 pm — Karyn Kuhl Band
3:00 pm — DEVI
4:00 pm — Sensational Country Blues Wonders
The “Solidarity Bike Ride” & “Music Against Privatization” Protest will be held at Liberty State Park on Sunday, November 1, at the Historic CRRNJ Train Terminal Concourse, 1 Audrey Zapp Dr., from 10:30 am to 5 pm. Event information is listed on the JCI Cultural Calendar and the Facebook event page. For more information on Liberty State Park, visit folsp.org.
Top JCI file photo: Liberty State Park, Steve Gold, all other photos as credited