The “Everything Jersey City Festival” is called that for a reason. The May 22 event, which will cover 10 blocks across Central Avenue in the Jersey City Heights, will feature over 200 businesses, 27 bands, and numerous family amusements, including street soccer.
And that’s just the beginning for this seven-hour extravaganza (running from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), which is in its third year.
David Diaz, the district manager for the Central Avenue Special Improvement District (S.I.D.), one of the main organizers of the festival, said the district is hoping to attract even more visitors than the 15,000 people who came to last year’s festival.
“Every year this gets better, and it wouldn’t surprise me if more people showed up,” Diaz said. “The whole idea of this festival is the building up of the community, with emphasis on pride and harmony, which is very appealing to the public.”
“The biggest complaint from people is that there was too much to see.” – David Diaz
“The biggest complaint from people is that there was too much to see,” Diaz said.
Along with a multitude of vendors, there are also plenty of sponsors, who Diaz credits with making the festival a reality. The Everything Jersey City Festival is organized by the Central Avenue Special Improvement District Management Corporation (Diaz, its president Michael Yun, and others) in partnership with Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy, the Jersey City Municipal Council and Division of Cultural Affairs, Hudson County Executive Thomas A. DeGise, and the Board of Chosen Freeholders.
Other sponsors include the Hudson Reporter, Hudson County Community College and Hudson Catholic High School.
There’s ‘everything’ to enjoy
What does the ‘everything’ in the Everything Jersey City Festival mean?
It means every kind of music, from the soulful blues of Christine Santelli to the Salsa beats of Rumba Con Son; various items offered at 10 to 50 percent off during a special one-day sale, and many different restaurants giving attendees a “Taste of the Heights” and distributing a limited number of gift certificates for future dinners.
And almost everything in this festival relates to this year’s festival theme, “UEZ Programs Build Communities.” UEZ stands for Urban Enterprise Zone, and the festival is paid for in part by the Jersey City Urban Enterprise Zone Program. The UEZ is a state program that designates certain urban business districts so that they are allowed to charge a low 3.5 percent sales tax to attract shoppers. Then, money from the state tax is supposed to come back from the business districts so they can use it for renovations, hiring police, and other improvements.
However, Gov. Christopher Christie recently stopped UEZ funding from returning to cities, and is keeping it to help close a state budget deficit.
“Half our fundraising comes from UEZ dollars, which provides us with the manpower, and helps to organize the festival,” Diaz said. “But it also helps that we get many volunteers and in-kind services. That is also helpful, because the festival doesn’t really make any money, we just break even.”
Despite some of the challenges, Diaz and the Central Avenue S.I.D. team are looking forward to being at the festival, which he calls “a spotlight upon Jersey City.”