by Jake Wendland
If you’ve ever been in Newark in September, chances are, you’ve probably heard of Newark Days. Newark Days is a festival that has been put on every year since 1955 to celebrate the incorporation of the city of Newark. The festivities include three events; the parade, the carnival, and the “Newark Mile.” It has always been held the weekend of September 22nd, the same day the city was incorporated.
The main event varies based on who you ask, to some, it’s the historic parade, while the younger folks may say that it’s the carnival. While both are equally entertaining, nothing beats some deep fried carnival food and spinning rides. The Newark Days carnival has always been themed, this year, it was “A Wizard’s World” while last year’s theme was “A Jungle Adventure.” The carnival is a great place to hang out and win prizes. They always bring out huge rides like the ferris wheel and carnival games that we all know and love where you can win goldfish, stuffed animals, and much more.
This parade is nothing to shrug at. The parade covers all of Cedar and Newark Boulevard, two of the largest streets in the city. At the very first parade, George Silliman, Newark’s first mayor had a car breakdown, so he walked the rest of the parade, a walk that would be much longer now. Sandra Rodrigues, a lifetime Newark resident, has been going to the parade for several decades and has even been a part of it on a couple occasions. “As a kid, growing up here, obviously I’ve lived here my whole life, it was a big thing. The parades were always huge and they had all these vans showing up. They also had these big events that competed against each other. You got to see all these big people like the mayor and the fire chief. As for being in it, I was the first junior queen. It was an exciting time for this small city where everyone knew everyone,” she explained.
Now for everyone's favorite event, the “Newark Mile,” a 2.5 mile/4 kilometer race with hundreds of participants. The race has been held for the last 34 years and has always been a big hit with the locals. It has always followed the parade route, making it easy for spectators to know where to set up for a good view. People who pay the $15 to run the race receive a bib, bib safety pins, an official “Newark Mile” t-shirt, and bragging rights.
Unfortunately, this year’s “Newark Days” festival has already passed, but next year, you can sign up as a volunteer to run the activities (for service hours of course), participate in the race, or just go hang out with your friends. You can also go knowing all of these historical facts about the festival.