The Weehawken Elks Lodge No. 1456 hosted and celebrated the 62nd annual Press Night a week ago Monday, an event in to recognize the importance of the news media in society.
This year’s event highlighted the importance of the press in relation to Weehawken’s 150th anniversary and noted changes in the press’s role parallel to the town’s growth over the years.
A record 170 people attended the event, which took place on Monday Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Elks Lodge on Blvd. East and 50th Street.
The event attracted 170 people.
“Press Night has always been a recognition of the freedom that our press enjoys and by extension our own freedom of speech as well,” said Facchini on press night. “With events unfolding with uncertainty in so many corners of our world, the freedoms and liberties we enjoy as a nation seem even more precious to us now. We as Elks are proud to be able to honor these freedoms even in this small way.”
“Over the 30 or 40 years that I’ve been involved with it,” said Facchini, “we always hold it around just before election day so we invite a lot of the public opinion leaders, politicians, business leaders to generate enthusiasm for the Election Day that is coming up.”
“It reminds everybody that the press is one of the freedoms that we have and to keep that freedom you need to vote,” added Facchini.
“The Elks have been an institution in Weehawken and the press has been involved in every major event in Weehawken,” said Turner at the event.
The evening’s memories
Some light-hearted “roasting” of politicians at the event made the crowd laugh, as is tradition each year. “It was humorous,” said Facchini.
Also, Stephanie Aguduelo, a student at Weehawken High School, was presented as the winner of an essay contest on the freedom of speech, which she read to the audience. She received a $100 check on behalf of the Weehawken and You Civic Association.
“I already used [the money] to put in my student account for school to help pay for graduation,” said Aguduelo.
“Stephanie did a wonderful job she spoke with great poise and great emphasis,” said Turner. “We always have the students participate in press night to impress upon the future generations on the value of the freedom of the press.”
Among attendees were students that represented school groups such as members of the National Honor Society, the school governing body, and school newspapers.
Young broadcast journalists also attended the event. They were the group of seventh and eighth grade students from the Roosevelt School’s Kid Witness News program that airs each week on cable channel 19.
A dinner menu of roast beef, potatoes, and string beans was served with refreshments and a cash bar available.
“We also combine our tradition with the press night,” said Facchini. “We basically have members of the lodge do the cooking and we’ve had past state presidents of the Elks attend and the secretary of the state Elks organization attend. It’s good for the community.”
Key to the town
Weehawken’s most senior resident, Clara Daley, 97, was presented with a key to the township by Turner. Daley mentioned that she was there before there were paved roads in the town. She said she grew up in Weehawken and how she thought the town was a great place to live in.
Daley was born in Weehawken on June 20, 1912. She met her husband, Cornelius Fleming, in Hoboken and they were married in 1930 at St. Lawrence Church. In the past, she served as president of the VFW, Ladies Auxiliary, for two years.
“She likes playing Bingo and going to Atlantic City,” said Donna Daly from the town’s Recreation Department.
In the summer, Daley was the Grand Marshall in Weehawken’s Sesquicentennial Parade.
Melissa Rappaport may be reached at email@example.com