A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

History: Bicentennial Commission of the Matawans, 1976

In 1976, The Independent began the year with a call for volunteers of all sorts to support local efforts to celebrate the American Bicentennial.  Both borough and township were still named Matawan until November 1977, so the local organizers were called the Bicentennial Commission of the Matawans.

The joint commission planned to open local festivities celebrating America's 200th anniversary with a two-day Philip Freneau Fair in honor of the local Revolutionary War poet.. That event would feature a 26 June 1976 re-enactment of the British attempt to capture the revolutionary Major John Burrowes at his father's home on Main Street in Matawan. The incident, which took place in the summer of 1778, involved the untimely death of Major Burrowes' wife, Margaret (Forman) Burrowes, who was stabbed with a British saber in the doorway of her home as she bravely delayed the Tory raiding party, permitting her husband's escape across Matawan Creek.

The 31 March 1976 edition of The Independent carried a call for volunteers to man the re-enactment, as well as a lengthy article summarizing the history of Burrowes Mansion. The article included the recent history of Matawan's acquisition and renovation of this locally important site. Current Freeholder Lillian Burry features prominently in the article for her role in preserving the mansion.

The following Letter to the Editor from the 14 July 1976 edition thanks the many participants in the recent festivities but at the same time describes in considerable detail the events themselves. (Not to stray too far from the subject here, but why do I get the feeling there is an ugly story behind the last sentence of this letter?)

July 4th highlights

Matawan Township had a truly wonderful July 4th Bicentennial celebration and I want to take this opportunity to express our gratitude and appreciation to all who participated. Our Independence Day festivities included a parade along Lloyd Road, teenage rock concert, tribute to Our American heritage sing-a-long, and fireworks display at Cliff wood Beach.

We were very proud and pleased to see so many residents and their friends turn out to line the parade route and join in the songs and view the fireworks at Cliff wood Beach. A special vote of thanks goes to Mayor Edward Kaufman for his memorable reading of the Declaration of Independence and to Judge Philip Gumbs for his fine recital of the Gettsburg Address with the Battle Hymn of the republic for background music. We are particularly indebted to Bill Lawlor for leading and playing some great American songs from our musical heritage and to TRIK for their excellent renditions of popular rock.

The recreation program is also grateful to the 31 units who contributed to the success of our parade, including the Police and Fire departments, VFW honor guard, our grand marshalls Mr. and Mrs. Alex Mose, the township councilmen, Elks, Jaycees, Chamber of Commerce, Matawan Juniors, Senior Citizens, Bayshore Wheelers, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Pop Warner Huskies, playground bike riders, National Guard, and the Matawan and South Matawan first aid squads.

We are also pleased to give special thanks to the skirmish marchers from the Philip Freneau Fair and the two marching bands which we contracted to perform for our residents—the Continentals and the Ancients Fife and Drum Corps. Perhaps next year our own Matawan High School Marching Band, led by Dieter Zimmer, will show its loyalty to Matawan Township and honor us with the band's presence in our parade.

Gerald C. Fitzgerald
Recreation Advisory Board
Matawan Township


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