Guess the theme: Some April 1st fun with New Jersey 101.5’s temperature triplets
Right now, it's ___ in ___, ___ in ___, and ___ in ___... Fast Traffic and Instant Weather every 15 minutes on New Jersey 101-point-5!
Reading temperatures from three New Jersey towns, four times every hour, is a long-standing tradition at New Jersey 101.5. In-house, we call this product the temperature grid. As Chief Meteorologist, I have the dubious task of updating the 63 towns on the venerable temperature grid twice a year — it's quite a process!
Well, there's something weird about the grid today!
In honor of April 1st — and since we all could use some mental diversion right about now — I decided to have some fun with these venerable NJ temperature triplets by celebrating the diversity and strangeness of New Jersey place names.
For one day only, each temperature triplet has a different theme. In other words, each set of three towns read every 15 minutes has some commonality among them. 21 themes in all. Some are geographical. Some are linguistic, rooted in the names themselves. Some are based on etymology, regarding where the names came from historically. Some are very easy. And I tried to include some tricky ones too!
This article serves as the answer key to this little April Fools' Day experiment. How many themes were you able to guess correctly? And how many of these places did you know even existed in the great Garden State?
Note... There will be no theme for the temperatures read at 6:20am, 6:50am, 7:20am, 7:50am, 8:20am, 8:50am, 9:20am, and 9:50am Wednesday.
Cherry Hill - Orange - Cranbury
Anyone in the mood for a nice juicy piece of fruit? While Cherry Hill (Camden) and Cranbury (Middlesex) are named for the delicious fruit crops grown in the area, the City of Orange (Essex) is technically named for a person/place. Of course, citrus fruit does not grow in New Jersey. But I was born in Orange and I like fruit, so this theme deserves the top spot on the grid!
Washington - Washington - Washington
Heh, I love this one. There are, in fact, six municipalities named "Washington" in New Jersey. How uncreative! In this case, we're giving temperatures for the ones with the biggest populations, in Gloucester, Morris, and Bergen counties respectively. They also exist in Warren (a township and a borough) and Burlington (population 687). Because of the potential for mass confusion, you'll never hear "Washington" in the regular temperature grid rotation.
Bernardsville - Buena - Forked River
Did our on-air hosts and newscasters pronounce these correctly? These three represent communities that non-locals would absolutely mess up. BER-nards-ville. BYOO-na. FORK-ed Riv-er. I consider a bunch more for this category, including Absecon, Boonton, Chatham, Parsippany, and Rahway. Not Newark though — it's the Delaware folks that pronounce that one wrong.
White - Brick - Wall
Yes, New Jersey communities even share their name with colors, building materials, and structures.
North Plainfield - Plainfield - South Plainfield
OK, another obvious one. Of course, I could have paid homage to the Brunswicks, the Oranges, or the Amboys here. But I very deliberately chose the Plainfields, for three reasons. 1.) My mother grew up in North Plainfield. 2.) I lived in South Plainfield for two and a half years. 3.) Believe it or not, each is in a different county — North Plainfield is Somerset, Plainfield is Union, and South Plainfield is Middlesex!
Jefferson - Madison - Monroe
Strike up the band and give a 21-gun salute, this one is presidential! We've already discussed there are six places named Washington in the state. And there technically is a place named Adams, an unincorporated community in North Brunswick. But I try to stick to the "official" list of 565 municipalities in New Jersey. So the next three U.S. Presidents are Jefferson (Morris), Madison (Morris), and Monroe (Middlesex and Gloucester).
Livingston - Paterson - Howell
This one is difficult. But I left a deliberate yet subtle clue by listing this trio right after the Presidents line. William Livingston, William Paterson, and Richard Howell? They were all Governors of New Jersey.
Franklin - Franklin Lakes - Franklin Township
Good ol' Ben Franklin might be highly revered across the Delaware River in Philadelphia. But clearly, New Jersey loves him too! There are actually six municipalities in the state named for him. These particular selections are from Somerset, Bergen, and Gloucester counties.
Ridgewood - Ridgefield Park - Loch Arbour
Oh, this one is a toughie! You really have to be an expert in New Jersey government and the 565 municipalities to get it. As every graduate of American Legion Jersey Boys' State learns, there are five forms of government organization in NJ — Borough, City, Town, Township, and Village. More specifically, there are 254 boroughs, 52 cities, 15 towns, and 241 townships. And exactly 3 villages: Ridgewood, Ridgefield Park, and Loch Arbour.
Cedar Grove - Maple Shade - Magnolia
There are a lot of trees in New Jersey. So it's not really surprising there are many places named for trees.
Asbury Park - Florham Park - Highland Park
These are just three of the 19 municipalities in New Jersey that have "Park" in the name! The others are Audubon Park, Cliffside Park, Edgewater Park, Elmwood Park, Harrington Park, Lincoln Park, Midland Park, National Park, Palisades Park, Park Ridge, Prospect Park, Rochelle Park, Roselle Park, Seaside Park, and Woodland Park. With all those parks and recreation going on, it's no wonder we're "The Garden State".
Frelinghuysen Township - Lower Alloways Creek - Point Pleasant Beach
Now there's a mouthful. With over 20 characters a piece, these three are among the longest place names in New Jersey.
Long Branch - Middlesex - Short Hills
This one is all about the long, middle, and short of it. Those distances also serve as clues to the previous and next line of towns too.
Deal - Hope - Lodi
Sometimes, less is more. At just 4 characters a piece, these are among the shortest place names in New Jersey. (Elk in Gloucester County is the shortest, but appears elsewhere in the grid.)
Bayonne - Bay Head - Bayville
There are a ton of NJ towns with bodies of water in the name. 5 with Ocean. 11 with Lake. 13 with River. And 3 starting with Bay.
Colts Neck - Deerfield - Elk
Celebrating the hooved animals of New Jersey.
Hopatcong - Lopatcong - Pohatcong
From what I can gather, the suffix -cong is a Native American word referring to water. According to Wikipedia, Hopatcong (Sussex) means "stone over water," Lopatcong (Warren) was named for "winter watering place for deer," and Pohatcong (Warren) was called "split hills stream outlet". The borough of Netcong (Morris) also fits the category, named for the Musconetcong River.
Montague - Hamilton - Cape May Point
A tricky one, although looking at a map of the state would definitely help here. Montague is at the tippity-top of New Jersey, the northernmost place in the state. Meanwhile, Cape May Point is at the southern tip of the New Jersey peninsula. As for Hamilton? It is the geographic center of the state.
Jackson - Williamstown - Toms River
I grew up in Jackson (Ocean County). My oldest son is named Jackson. It's not quite a coincidence, although my wife and I really just liked the name. There are many New Jerseyans who just happen to share a name with a town here in the state. This theme is especially dedicated to all the Jacks, Williams, and Toms out there.
Avon-by-the-Sea - Ho-Ho-Kus - Hi-Nella
It's hyphen-mania! Ho-Ho-Kus (Bergen) is just one of my favorites in all of Jersey — I learned of its magical, super-fun-to-say name early in life, as I had an aunt and uncle who lived there. Other candidates for this category included Parsippany-Troy Hills and Wood-Ridge.
Tavistock - Walpack - Teterboro
You gotta think small for this grand finale! These three are among the least populated (yet still officially incorporated) places in the state. Tavistock (Camden) is home to a country club and an official population of 5, as of the 2020 Census. Walpack (Sussex) is home to a whopping 16 people. And Teterboro (Bergen), despite being home to a significant airport serving private and corporate flights, only 67 live in the borough.