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Ridgewood Pandemic

Stories of the Effects of COVID-19

Aiden Flynn, RHS Student


I am Aidan Joseph Flynn, currently a junior at Ridgewood High School, class of 2021. As I am writing this, Coronavirus (COVID-19) has completely taken over the world and created mass hysteria. The date is March 22, 2020. Right now, there are 335,403 cases of coronavirus worldwide and a total of 14,611 deaths. Coronavirus is making the world go crazy. Everyone is freaking out and scared to get the virus. In my opinion, It is the uncertainty as to when this virus will go away that is causing the chaos.


This past week, I have only left my house to run to stay in shape for sports. However, my season has been suspended, and, right now, my teammates and I do not have much hope to be playing again this season. It is Sunday night right now, and tomorrow I am starting my second week of online school. We use google meetings and google classroom to receive and submit our work. I think that school will be closed for the rest of the year, but then again, this is all speculation.


My days have consisted of the same things: wake up, eat, do my school work, do my workout for lacrosse, play video games, go to bed. I have not seen any of my friends since last Friday in school, and I do not see that changing anytime soon. On Instagram and Tik Tok, if those even exist at the time this is being read, all you see are memes of people joking about corona or coming up with ideas to keep ourselves preoccupied while in quarantine. What gets me the most upset about this outbreak is the fact that I will not be able to play sports this coming spring. I have been playing lacrosse since I was in 3rd grade, and have always dreamed about the idea of playing varsity sports.  However, COVID-19 has taken that from me.


I am hoping that in the future, this virus is studied in history just like the bubonic plague or the Spanish Flu. I also hope that this writing is used as a primary source to someone during this time period, if so hello to my future children and grandchildren, cannot wait to meet you!  My parents, your grandparents or great grandparents want me to tell you that they love me and you guys a lot, along with my sister Dana! 


Anyway, this virus has affected everybody's lives in the world. Even though I do not have corona, I am still affected by it by being forced to stay inside my home. Right now they are predicting that this virus could last until September, then again, no one really knows. Some people are disregarding the idea of quarantining and going out still. This will only delay the stoppage of the virus. I cannot wait for the day I am allowed to go out and be with my friends and not have to worry about getting sick. With that being said, I hope you enjoyed my story of how life is like during the coronavirus!  Above is my most recent school year picture!

During the Cornonavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, in Ridgewood and across the U.S., there was a shortage of face masks. As a result, many citizens took it upon themselves to sew masks from materials at home, or from services offered by businesses such as JoAnn Fabrics.  Ridgewood resident Marshall Katzman read a how-to article in the New York Times and sewed his own face mask.  He even participated in the "Face Mask Kits" program offered by Valley Hospital and sewed some for hospital staff.  

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On April 5, 2020, there was a four-alarm fire on N. Broad.  The fire destroyed two buildings, damaged a third, and left several people homeless. Luckily, no one was hurt, but Ridgewood did lose a bit of history that day.

The building that housed the Mediterraneo Restaurant had stood on that spot since October of 1913, when it was moved from its original site, just down the street at the corner of Broad and Ridgewood—now the site of the Wilsey Building.

The building that moved—and has now burned—housed a grocery store on its original corner in the late 1800s, but eventually it was bought by Walter Wilsey and became the first “Wilsey Building.” In April of 1913, a fire that started in a dry cleaning store destroyed part of the building, and rather than rebuild, Wilsey decided to move the large remaining section up Broad Street—“difficult work,” the Ridgewood Herald reported.


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Wilsey took the opportunity to start construction on a structure that would be a showcase of Ridgewood, a “fine three-story building of concrete and stucco, with tile roof.” The impressive new Wilsey Building opened its doors in early 1914.

The first photograph above was taken by Robert Delcalzo, who submitted it to document not only the fire, but the social distancing displayed by observers.

The second photograph, on the right, shows the original Wilsey Building with Gordon and Forman Real Estate (Wilsey bought it later).

The third photograph, on the left, captures the Wilsey Building that was built in 1913, and is still at corner of E. Ridgewood and Broad.  On the far left, in the same picture,  you can see the original building in its new location on N. Broad, out of the fire zone established to limit fires in the downtown.

The image below was taken April 29, 2020, and shows the devastating damage of that fire on April 5.

For more newspaper documentation on the Wilsey Building, please click here.


But even with the devastation from the fire, comes a story of hope from two Ridgewood High School students.

Story submitted by Rachel Frank, Ridgewood High School Junior (2020):

On April 5th a fire broke out in my town of Ridgewood, New Jersey. My heart sank as I could do nothing but watch helplessly from across the street as firemen tried to stop the raging blaze. I watched a bagel store I had gone to regularly vanish, a restaurant my parents had adored burn down, and several apartments disappear before my own eyes.


The following day word spread that 2 little boys, a two year old and a six year old, were among those whose apartments had burned down in addition to several beloved businesses. My friend, Ava and I, had been talking about the tragic fire when we heard the news about the two boys. We both immediately felt a deep connection to the two boys displaced by the fire, for we understood how hard it is to be a kid during these unprecedented times. However, we could not imagine how difficult it would be to be a kid during these times without any toys or games to distract us from the upside down world around us.


So we came up with a plan. First we started looking around our homes to see if we could find something, anything, that a young child might enjoy. When we realized that the items in our homes would not suffice, we reached out to the community of Ridgewood via social media and we started a toy and craft drive. We set a goal of collecting three or four boxes of toys and crafts. After a couple of posts to social media in which we advertised the drive, the response from the Ridgewood community was, to say the least, overwhelming.


We were flooded with calls and texts from all over town. Generous donors would leave bags with crafts and toys on their front porches or by their front doorsteps. Several families from outside of Ridgewood also generously contributed to the drive. We spent days driving around town, going to the homes of kindhearted and generous strangers who had seen our request for toys and searched through their own homes looking for anything that might make two little boys smile. Ava and I loaded our trunks with packages and boxes of toys and goodies. Our cars soon started to overflow.


Due to the caution and warning about the corona virus, Ava and I understood that we had to wait 48 hours to touch any of the items. After that, we began the long process of sorting, disinfecting items, and even wrapping up gift baskets full of toys and goodies that the boys displaced by the fire would be able to enjoy.


I am involved in Project Interact, a community service club at Ridgewood High School. When I spoke to Mrs. Reilly, the Project Interact club faculty advisor, she graciously arranged for the club to approve a two-hundred dollar donation for our drive. We used the Project Interact community service funds to buy grocery store and visa gift-cards for the families affected by the fire. We then had to figure out how we would get the items we had collected to the kids, who were temporarily staying at a hotel address we did not know. Fortunately for us, a wonderful group of women, who were themselves doing a clothing drive for the displaced families, generously helped us take the items where they needed to go. The community’s generosity far exceeded our expectations.


Rather than arriving at the donation center with three or four boxes and baskets of donations, we arrived with 2 overflowing cars. Neither Ava nor I had ever met the boys we were trying to help, and due to the pandemic, we may not meet anytime soon; but we know our actions will do a great deal of good. For, in a time like this, anyone, no matter their age, is capable of turning on a small light in a dark room.


Ava and I both felt that while we had made a small difference in the lives of two little boys, the truth be told it was these children that made a huge difference in our lives. They had given us the gift of seeing our own potential to make a difference. How a tragedy could spark and connect a school club (Project Interact), a community (the generous donors of Ridgewood), 2 High School students, a group of women helping with their own clothing drive and a family affected by a devastating fire and result in real toys, crafts and gifts being given to real children in need of these things. I now understand how easy it is, with small acts of kindness to make a difference in a child’s life. When Ava and I had first learned of the effects of the fire, little did we know that we would work with those circumstances to bring a little bit of joy to two little boys displaced by a fire during a global pandemic.

This is a photograph is of two important things to me - the face masks that I am sewing for Valley Hospital during the time of the 2020 COVID19 pandemic and my mother’s sewing machine that she gave me. My mother passed away after a long illness on March 11th. We flew down to Texas for a wonderful celebration of her 90 years of life. But, during the entire time there, the developing pandemic was in the back of our minds. Would our flight be cancelled, were businesses still open, would we be able to get groceries? I felt like we did not have time to think too far ahead. My husband and I are now working from home, and we were worried for our adult children, and our grandchildren. I had so many emotions; I wanted to help in some way, but I also felt that I had not been able to truly mourn my mother’s passing, and she deserved to be in my thoughts. These two things, helping in some way, and thinking of my mother came together in a wonderful, unexpected way. As I quietly sewed these masks, and thought of those that they could help, I also realized that my mother was with me. My mother made many clothes for her 8 children on this machine, she taught her 5 daughters to sew on this machine, and now I have it and am sewing for others. It gave me pause to recall our times spent together. Sometimes it is the unforeseen times when things happen. We cannot control everything, and this is a very unsettling time. I am so grateful to all of our amazing and upstanding frontline workers; they are our real heroes. I know that my mother is with me always, but I am grateful for the time that these two things came together for me in a way that made me smile, and keeps me hopeful.

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Photo and Story Submitted by Victoria H

The following photographs were submitted by photography student Tatiana Mehos.  They capture the quietness in Ridgewood as a result of social distancing, along with the effects it has had on restaurant services and other businesses.  Grocery store and pharmacies are also experiencing shortages of materials such as toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer and more.

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A group of fifteen dedicated and passionate RHS teachers decided to get together on Zoom during the quarantine. Their goal was a start working on projects to raise the spirits of the RHS students while they participated in remote learning.


The first project was to produce a spirit video featuring RHS staff. Mr. Pizzuto proposed the song "Our House" by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, with staff members writing messages to the students from their houses. Mr. Cronk was tasked with making a "sample" video to share with staff, and he thought of making a sign that said "R" House, with a block R to match the school logo. This was sent out to the staff, and what followed next was an outpouring of staff video and photo submissions.


Completely organic and unscripted, the RHS staff showed how much they care for and miss their students through various clips that were submitted to Mr. Monahan. The response was so robust that Monahan needed to add more songs to accommodate all the staff submissions. 

By the final product, he added two more songs that matched the "R" House theme: Our House by Madness, and This is Our House by Bon Jovi. The video was pushed to students and parents, receiving over ten thousand views in its first week! The RHS students responded with their own spirit video; and the RHS staff released a Dance Video as part of their second round of spirit projects.  

This video, taken by photographer Anne-Marie Caruso, captures the #BeTheLightCampaign.  Schools around the area are participating in this event, where every Friday field lights will go on at 8:20pm, and the schools will keep them on for 20 minutes and 20 seconds in honor of the class of 2020.  As sports reporter Sean Farrell said, "it's time to spread a little positivity at the time that we need it  most."

The short story "Wartime With Dick and Jane" tells what it is like to spend time walking outdoors during

semi-quarantine and the thoughts it brings. The work-- written by a local educator, frequent walker,

and occasional writer-- juxtaposes the ideas of living in the moment with the gravity of trying to process

heavier events.

Click here to read the story.


Drone footage of downtown Newark during the coronavirus pandemic.  Video courtesey of NorthJersey.com, taken by

Tariq Zehawi and Danielle Parhizkaran 

On Sunday May 3, 2020, Village resident captured this thank you to healthcare workers at Valley Hospital.   Many scenes such as this one have taken place across the country, as the efforts in the medical field have been heralded as heroic. 

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Though graduations for 2020 have been postponed or canceled, many aren't letting this stop them from celebrating their commencements.

Captured in this image to the left is Robert F. Schablik, in his graduation robes.  Robert F. earned his Civil Engineering degree at Rowan University.  Looking on is his grandfather, Robert Schablik.

The image on the right

illustrates the signage found

on many lawns of graduates,

congratulating the class

of 2020.

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This spring The Women Gardeners of Ridgewood was to host a garden tour of different homes in the Village, however the "2020 Secret Gardens Tour", was cancelled due to the coronavirus COVID-19, but has been postponed until June 2021.


The photos in this slideshow are from member gardens, posted on the Women Gardeners FaceBook page as a way to still see the beauty of their gardens in place of the tour.  Right now all the photos are of Spring flowering plants.  Be sure to come back in the next few weeks to see what's blooming!

Ridgewood resident, Councilman to the Village, and former Library Board member Jeff Voigt took photographs of Ridgewood during the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.  His images capture the effects that this virus has had on the community.  But they also capture the resiliency of the Village, and the support the community has shown one another.

Celebration of two birthdays at SHARE - Nancy Petrie's 102nd birthday and Pasqual Braca (92).   Guitarists are Chris Byers and Pete Campanella along with well wishers.

Parade for Valley Heroes

Ridgewood Downtown Businesses

Senbazuru (1,000 Paper Cranes)

The idea of making 1,000 cranes all started when my sister and I talked about what we can do to help at this time. With the whole pandemic and the widespread disease, our school had just changed to remote learning using virtual class. We knew that people needed help at this time, but we didn’t know much that would be able to help anyone. Many were worried and pessimistic of the situation, and we wanted to create something that could bring joy to them, even if it was just a second. When we had our conversation, I suddenly remembered the time my sister and I made 1,000 paper cranes for my grandmother when she was fighting cancer. The paper cranes we made before were beautiful and I still vividly remembered it, although I had made it when I was just six. I thought if we could make the paper cranes, it could bring light and color to the hospital during this time to give hope for everyone. We started this project in the middle of April, and one day we worked together for about a month for the 1,000 cranes. We first folded 1,000 cranes over the course of a few weeks, and after we used a needle and string to attach them together. Making a total of 40 cranes on each string, and 25 in total that were tied together at the end. The senbazuru (1,000 paper cranes) in Japan are originally made for people fighting an illness. It is created in hope for quick recovery from illness or injury. Moreover, it is known for granting happiness and eternal good luck. 

-Yurina and Mayuna Homma

Definition Senbazuri (1,000 Cranes)

Definition Senbazuri (1,000 Cranes)

Separating the cranes by colors

Separating the cranes by colors

Placing the cranes into the rainbow color, and ready to sew!

Placing the cranes into the rainbow color, and ready to sew!

1,000 cranes on the string now!

1,000 cranes on the string now!

Final Product

Final Product

Yurina Homma - Junior at RHS Mayuna Homma - Sophomore at RHS

Yurina Homma - Junior at RHS Mayuna Homma - Sophomore at RHS

Delivered to Valley Hospital on May 20th!

Delivered to Valley Hospital on May 20th!

Memorial Day, 2020

Below is a slide show of images taken of the Ridgewood Post 53's Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday, May 25, 2020, at Van Neste Square Memorial Park. Usually the ceremony is held at 11 AM but this year coronavirus crowd size restrictions made it necessary to have a much abbreviated version. The event was held at  3:00 PM, in keeping with the Act signed by President Bill Clinton in 2000 declaring 3 p.m, local time on Memorial Day for Americans, in an act of symbolic unity, to have a moment of silence in honor of the men and woman of the United States who died in the pursuit of freedom and peace. 

Photographs were taken by Joe Burns.

Art of Motion

As Founder/Artistic Director of Art of Motion, Inc. - a non-profit educational and cultural organization and home to the internationally renowned Art of Motion Dance Theatre I have had to create ways for the company to continue performing and abide by pandemic rules. The AOMDT was able to film a site-specific film of SHAKTI on a water feature in a backyard pool in Ridgewood in lieu of the scheduled performance on the East River in NYC as part of the annual Earth Celebrations platform, Engaging Communities to Generate Ecological and Social Change through the Arts https://earthcelebrations.com/.  The company also performed in a Live Stream as part of The ACTION NETWORK, supported by US CLIMATE CHANGE to honor EARTH DAY on April 22nd, 2020.


The AOMDT is dedicated to site-specific performing and presents original repertoire rooted in legend, myth and nature.  All work is created at our home studio space located in the downtown business district on Chestnut Street in Ridgewood, NJ.


Site Specific on the Dunham Trail/Ho-Ho-Kus Brook

EARTH DAY Performance April 22, 2020   "Monarch"  An excerpt from "Secret Life of Gardens"

AOMDT Principal Janette Dishuk pictured

Costume Design by:  Annie Hickman

As part of the "Welcome Back Ridgewood Initiative", AOM held performances on Sundays in August (16, 23 & 30th), in Van Neste Square Park.  These performances were free and open to the public. 

Concept, choreography and performance by Lynn Needle.  Original poem "The Great Realisation" by Tom Roberts.

Last Day of School 2020- Willard School


Mr. Friel's 2nd Grade Class'

Image of Hope
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Prom in the Time of COVID-19

With the closure of schools, many Senior activities were also canceled in order to abide by the stay-at-home and social distancing rules.  As a result, many in the community were creative in creating an experience for themselves...

We called the event "Backyard Prom 2020". It was an opportunity for the Seniors to put on their gowns and jackets and get some of the photos they would otherwise be missing this year due to Covid-19.


We decorated the yard with lights, there was music, appetizers (with individual toothpicks in e