Presidents’ Day: West New York honors, remembers, celebrates


In 1976 Memorial High School Band played for candidate (Jimmy) Carter at Schuetzen Park.

And Patrick Cullen waited eight hours in the rain to meet former President Clinton.

“I was so nervous when he came I flubbed my words,” says Cullen, the town historian. “I actually saluted him and I said, ‘I’m proud to be your commander in chief.’”

Researching where your predecessors lived leads to better understanding of what their lives were like.

“I’m here just to see what the history of West New York is all about,”says resident David Morel.

We stand on the shoulders of people who lived in this town and nearby.

“That wrote about these articles and we have this prominence here about seven presidents that directly or indirectly relate to West New York,” Cullen says.

Not only do we get to honor past and present presidents.

“We get to honor the culture and heritage of West New York,” says Commissioner Cosmo Cirillo.  “A lot of interesting information and I think it’s important for the community to know.”

It’s not just about Washington and Lincoln.

“But to talk about all presidents that have touched us in various ways,” Cullen says.

Cirillo echoes that sentiment.

“He (Cullen) was able to tie in the many different presidents that are connected some way, somehow to the town of West New York,” the commissioner says.

Two United States presidents had ties to the Garden State… Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson.

“You’re taking the same path and you’re taking the same steps that a president took walking through here or soldiers,” Morel says. “It’s interesting to know that.”

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Jillian has a passion for news, giving voice to the voiceless and telling stories that make an impact. A New Jersey native, she spent the past two years as a multimedia journalist/one-man-band at WTAP-TV, the NBC affiliate in Parkersburg, West Virginia, where she covered everything from meth busts to fracking to the homeless to a young man struck by lightening. She was her news director’s “go to health reporter” and also covered many education and political stories. She frequently interviewed the mayors of Parkersburg, Vienna and Williamstown, WV and Belpre and Marietta, Ohio. She interviewed OH Gubernatorial Candidate Ed Fitzgerald and OH Congressional Candidate Jennifer Garrison, as well as WV Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and WV Senator Joe Manchin. Jillian was a regular fixture at the local police, sheriff’s departments, prosecutors’ offices and courthouses. Many looked forward to her ‘Mom of the Month’ series. Her story about two women who lost their children to heroin was widely recognized, along with her much loved piece on the Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis band camp. In her free time, Jillian enjoys yoga; working out, live music, spending time with friends on both coasts and the Mid-Ohio Valley. Follow on Twitter @JillianRis


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