Guttenberg Community Valentine’s Dance a big hit

Valentine’s Day took on a greater meaning Friday night in Guttenberg. It was all about love and community.

“It’s a time to spend time with your friends and your loved ones,” says seventh-grader, Alvin Mercader. “I think that’s the whole purpose of it — you get to enjoy time with your friends or the person you like.”

According to East New Newark Mayor, Dina Grilo, for her and many of the residents and the community Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate what we kind of do everyday.

“Just love one another, be happy for the people in our lives,” Grilo says.  

It’s the first time they tried a community Valentine’s event, the room was bustling and the mayor called it a success. 

“Probably about 80 kids in there, which is a nice thing. We haven’t had this, working with the school now, communicating a lot better, so it makes things like this to be a hit,” says Wayne Zitt.   

It was a great opportunity to nurture friendships, make connections and be kind to each other.

“It’s about the kids, it’s about the seniors, it’s about community and that’s what he incorporated,” says Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez (D-32).

Life is short, there’s no time like the present to open your heart.

“It means that you spend time with family, spend time with loved ones and you actually get to say the one you like how you feel,” says Jacob Sanger, a seventh-grade student. 

Dina Grilo came to support Mayor Wayne Zitt and his council. As a new mayor in the borough of East Newark, there are things she wants to do in her community.

“And we’re reaching out and meeting with our fellow other 11 mayors and see what they do and see how we can incorporate it for our borough,” Grilo says. 

When you look beyond the chocolate and flowers, Valentine’s Day is so much more.

“You feel the love, you feel the music, everybody’s dancing,” Jimenez says. “So it was a nice start to the Valentine’s Day season.”

And great energy on a Friday night, which was perfect because Saturday nobody has to worry about getting up early.

“The mayor’s here; everybody’s here, there’s even a cool DJ,” Sanger says.

“Getting the kids to come here, to interact and everything else; it gives us a reason, Valentine’s Day — at this age, to bring ‘em together and have fun,” Zitt says.  

“It’s about the love and you can be with your friends,” says seventh-grader, Thalina Peralta.


Happiness was evident all around.

“Everyone’s having a really good time, there’s a lot of smiles on people’s faces… that’s all that it’s about,” Grilo says.


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