If we have a snowy winter, chances are Maricela (Mari) Rivera will be behind the wheel of the snow plow. Rivera is fleet manager for all city vehicles and works in the Parking Utilities Department. She is uniquely qualified for the job. She started out in Parking Enforcement, moved up to motor-broom operator and street-sweeper driver, and finally fleet manager. Her duties include scheduling vehicle maintenance and supervising the mechanics. One of those mechanics is her father. “I learned how to fix cars from my dad,” Rivera says.
Rivera is a Hoboken native. She and her husband have two children, a boy and girl, ages 12 and 14.
Rivera likes being out on the snowy Hoboken streets. “Out there you’re your own boss,” she says. “I love the snow plow. A lot of people think it’s a man’s job, and when they see a female, they’re in shock. Sometimes it’s hard when cars are parked improperly, and you use judgment to make sure you don’t hit the car. Other than that it’s not hard to drive a little Ford F-350 pickup.”
When I talked to Rivera, snow was the last thing on her mind. It was the tail end of summer, and she was revving up for her favorite workout: softball. The season for the Hoboken City Divas starts in September, after the kids relinquish the Little League field.
Rivera, who has been playing softball since she was seven and coaches her own kids, attended NJCU for a year and a half on a softball scholarship. She generally pitches but has also caught and played short and second.
She’s played for Jersey City’s Benito’s Gals, which is part of the fast-pitch Jersey City Women’s League. In the Hoboken Women’s League for Recreation, Rivera pitches “arch” style.
Rivera is no slouch at the plate either. She’s been doing cardio and strength workouts and has been hitting doubles and triples in practices. At five-foot-six, she is powerfully built and has a lot of power at the plate.
Whether it’s plowing or playing, Rivera loves what she’s doing. “I have fun playing sports,” she says. “It’s not about winning or losing. It’s about having fun and getting a workout at the same time.”—Kate Rounds
PHOTOS BY Terri Saulino Bish and Alyssa Bredin