Montvale Mayor continuing drive-by parades for celebrations
To drive by or not to drive by, that's the question facing New Jersey residents who want to celebrate birthdays and graduations with a parade of friends and relatives driving and waving at them while they stand outside.
They've come under fire by Gov. Murphy, causing a Twitter reaction by state Sen. Declan O'Scanlon, and the Murphy administration later walked back it's statement against "wave parades." Enter Montvale Mayor Mike Ghassali, who's been holding them every Saturday throughout his town to celebrate birthdays and graduations etc.
I talked to him via email, and here's a summation of how our conversation went:
What has the response been to your Saturday parades?
"The response has been overwhelmingly positive and the children and the parents plan a whole week for the few seconds drive by. We now limit it to ten years and under because of the number of requests we are getting."
What do they mean to the morale of Montvale?
"This is one way to raise hope and bring smiles to the children and the parents. When you see grown men and women crying as you pass by them with the sirens and lights and wiping their happy tears, and then dozens of thank you messages, you know you are doing something right."
QUEST FOR A CURE: Thursday at 7 p.m., New Jersey 101.5 hosts a live discussion on NJ-driven advancements in coronavirus treatment and research that could save lives, help return NJ to work and even make progress toward a vaccine. Listen on New Jersey 101.5 FM, the NJ 101.5 app or Facebook.com/NJ1015.
How do you feel about Gov. Murphy banning them?
"I invite the governor to join us on these drive-by's, and I know he will feel exactly the same as all of us do. This a safe and responsible way to bring some joy, even for a short time, to children and residents who are stuck in their homes for the last eight weeks. And in many ways, the volunteers driving the cars and the trucks they themselves feel the joy of the children."
Will you continue to have them?
"We will continue to do the drive-by's in a safe manner. These are safer than walking by someone on a sidewalk or going to the store or even giving your credit card to a gas station attendant to get gas for your car. This is one fight we are willing to take on for our residents. The residents are doing exactly what the governor has asked for eight weeks, and we now ask the governor to trust us at the local level. You have faith driving at 40 mph that the car coming the opposite way will stay in its lane, well now ask the governor to have faith that we will stay in our lane and keep everyone safe."
Anything else you'd like to add about you or Montvale?
"Our community like many New Jersey communities is close-knit community and everyone knows everyone and take care of each other. None of us will do anything to harm our friends and with natives of 44 countries and where 22 languages are spoken all in four square miles, we will take care of each other."
More from New Jersey 101.5: