It’s safe to say that Mayor Brian Stack might be this summer’s unofficial king of block parties in Hudson County.
On May 28, Union City shut down a huge portion of 32nd Street for a massive rally/concert/festival that drew thousands of residents from Union City and beyond looking to let loose on a Tuesday night.
While Hudson County will see a summer filled with free festivities, music, and parties sponsored by local elected officials, this block party was one for the books.
Like other city-organized happenings, word got out fast with heavy promotion on billboards, social media, and leaflets.
The lineup for the event turned plenty of heads. Gov. Phil Murphy was Stack’s co-host. An array of local and international musicians known for winning awards and topping the Billboard Latin Music charts were on the roster. The event was sponsored by “Union City First,” an organization which shares the name of the mayor’s municipal committee.
All was falling into place, when the weather forecasts turned dire, prompting officials to call off the May 23 date. As it turned out, the cancellation was all for naught, By about 6:30 p.m. that night there was hardly a cloud in sight.
On May 28, the show had to go on, though tornadoes were forecast. But things went off without a hitch until late into the night.
Enter the pedestrian-only zone, and there were kids galore. A smaller stage, a few blocks from the tall sound stage at the corner of 32nd Street and Kennedy Boulevard, featured kid-friendly performances, with several Disney mascots to boot. A village of bounce houses were set up, and free popcorn and cotton candy flowed from concession stands.
On display were glossy images of Mayor Stack and Gov. Murphy with the words, “We support Governor Murphy.” Officials estimated that some 15,000 people showed up. The street was packed from end to end
Bass-driven rumbles could be heard from several blocks away. Things kicked off with a few opening acts, including “Dr. Disco,” who busted out some Saturday Night Fever-esque moves to songs by The Village People while donning a fully-chromed helmet. A solo performance honored Prince’s catalog.
Two of the acts were native to Hudson County. Maxima Alerta, a Cuban band credited with popularizing the “Cubaton” style of music, has been a Union City mainstay since its members emigrated here. Their live performances were banned in Cuba. Since then, they’ve worked with Union City Commissioner Lucio Fernandez’s production company.
The Bayonne-based Alan Quinn Orchestra performed some all-time favorites with a twist of swing and jazz.
Hailing from Dominican Republic, three-time Grammy nominee Toño Rosario took the stage. Rosario, who helped popularize Merengue music, belted out some energetic tunes.
On the turntables was Alex Sensation, a widely acclaimed DJ from Colombia, with plenty of traction as a radio personality and musical taste-maker on Latin pop stations.
Joe Veras, a soft-voiced, guitar-toting bachata musician with Dominican roots, was also on board to play his way through a catalog that landed him at the top of Billboard’s Latin Music charts in the early 2000s
A heavy downpour at about 9:30 shut things down slightly earlier than the time officials had anticipated. Still, this party lived up to its abundant hype.