New Jersey Pride – Why NJ residents love their home state
New Jersey Pride (Part 1 of 5): In an exclusive weeklong series, we examine the best and worst of the Garden State. Stereotypes and other factors influence how the outside world views New Jersey and its residents, but pride runs deep among those Jersey-born and raised.
You hear it each hour on our station: "Not New York, not Philadelphia, proud to be New Jersey."
When asked what makes them proud to be from the Garden State, residents' answers came almost immediately, like a reflex. Some have called New Jersey home for their entire lives. Others spent years out of the state for work or school purposes, but were immediately itching to get back to the land of 24-hour diners, Atlantic City, "Fresh" produce and 130 miles of coastline.
"We've got a versatile state," said Frank Damato of Woodbridge. "You have the mountains, you have the beaches, you have the refineries, you have the farms."
Many residents leaned on the mantra "location, location, location" as their number one reason for Jersey pride.
"Everything is central. I can get to anything I need," said Somerset resident Beth Watson.
"It has the Jersey shore where you can go to the beach," added Joe Anicic of Howell. "You can...go to the city, see all the cultural things in the city."
Diana Antunes, born and raised in New Jersey, said within months of moving to Massachusetts for school, she was terribly missing her home state.
"The two things I actually brought up to (Massachusetts) was Wawa, which they don't have, and Taylor ham," said Antunes, who has since moved to Lawrenceville for work.
Some residents' go-to reasons for Jersey pride took us, and their family members, by surprise.
- "I like how flat it is. You don't have to walk up hills all the time." - Erica Kurey, Plainsboro
- "I actually really like the park systems around here. They have a lot of opportunities." - Michelle Gaestel, Point Pleasant
- "I am proud to be from New Jersey, and it's the only state where you can say 'Jersey.' You don't have to have the 'New' in front of it. You can't say 'York.'" - Suzanne Kurey, East Windsor
- "There's a very great music scene." - Ken Vaughn, Manasquan
- "When you're in New Jersey, everyone's always warm and welcoming, and you feel like you're part of wherever you enter." - Ian Fahey, Freehold
That last one is up for debate.
In Part 2 of our series, New Jersey residents tell us why they're sometimes ashamed to wear their Jersey pride too loudly. One specific reason bothers Garden Staters more than anything else.