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It was a raining, gloomy day, but there was sunshine in our hearts and everyone who participated brought sunshine into the park.
A Tale of Our City 2009, Jersey City’s 2nd annual book festival, was held on Saturday, September 12, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the lush, beautiful Victorian atmosphere of Van Vorst Park (Jersey Avenue @ Montgomery Street) in Jersey City. And most definitely, the annual book festival always is… Rain or shine!
All 20 authors brought umbrellas, their books and their smiles. And all were eager to meet the public, read from their books, autograph and sell their books. The rain had a very positive effect since the authors huddled together under a tent to keep from the rain, which made for a very cozy environment. All started talking, comparing notes and became fast friends. The best part of having the readings is the exposure that these wonderful, eclectic groups of authors receive from this festival.
It is the first of its kind headed by an institution that has its history based on the promotion of literacy and books – the Library – that is why people came to both festivals in 2008 and 2009, and with the authors eager to participate, that’s why we can see it being a major event every year.
We had one sponsor this year, JCF Boot Camp/Darius Wilson, who sponsored “Silly Willy – The Magician.” JCF Boot Camp offers extensive exercise programs for women of every age. Other agencies participating this year were the Jersey City Fire Department, U.S. Census, PACO, Grace Church Van Vorst, DYFS, and Baker & Taylor.
A Tale of Our City, presented by the Jersey City Free Public Library, in conjunction with Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy, the Municipal Council, and the Jersey City Division of Cultural Affairs, glorifies the history and traditions of New Jersey’s second-largest city through the written word. While people native to Jersey City and those who have come to live here, used to live here, or those non-natives writing about Jersey City are definitely encouraged to participate, other authors, describing life in all its depth and breadth from places other than Jersey City, are also welcome.
The Jersey City Department of Cultural Affairs is a fully participating co-sponsor, paying and supplying tents, chairs and tables; music; and children’s tents with face painting, and a storyteller, Beth Cohen, who brings musical instruments along with the story. This year, they also provided a banner. During both festivals, A Tale of Our City 2008 & 2009, Mayor Jeremiah T. Healy gave a few words and thanked the audience for coming.
The inaugural A Tale of Our City was funded in part by The Big Read, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.
Though the grant year for the Library has ended, the annual book festival, A Tale of Our City, is Jersey City’s vehicle for promoting literacy and reading by featuring authors so festival-goers can meet them in person, and engage in their own version of literary pursuits.
For working A Tale of Our City 2009, Book Festival Chair Sonia Araujo gave special thanks to Michele Dupey, John Pasco, Priscilla Gardner, Martha Rubio, Cynthia Raysor, Tyara Tucker, Teresa Smith and Teresa Fairley for giving their time, and their best efforts. Everyone worked together and all had a great time registering the public for Library cards and showing the residents that the Library promotes literacy and reading in all forms.