Old Bridge concludes year-long 150th anniversary celebration with tree lighting ceremony

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF JEFFREY KAGAN
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PHOTOS BY KATHY CHANG/STAFF
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Old Bridge ends 150th anniversary with a tree lighting ceremony at the Thomas Warne Museum on Dec. 15.PHOTOS BY KATHY CHANG/STAFF
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Old Bridge ends 150th anniversary with a tree lighting ceremony at the Thomas Warne Museum on Dec. 15.PHOTOS BY KATHY CHANG/STAFF
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Old Bridge ends 150th anniversary with a tree lighting ceremony at the Thomas Warne Museum on Dec. 15.PHOTOS BY KATHY CHANG/STAFF
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PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFFREY KAGAN
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Old Bridge ends 150th anniversary with a tree lighting ceremony at the Thomas Warne Museum on Dec. 15.PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFFREY KAGAN
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Old Bridge ends 150th anniversary with a tree lighting ceremony at the Thomas Warne Museum on Dec. 15.PHOTOS BY KATHY CHANG/STAFF
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Old Bridge ends 150th anniversary with a tree lighting ceremony at the Thomas Warne Museum on Dec. 15.PHOTOS BY KATHY CHANG/STAFF
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Old Bridge ends 150th anniversary with a tree lighting ceremony at the Thomas Warne Museum on Dec. 15.PHOTOS BY KATHY CHANG/STAFF
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PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFFREY KAGAN
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Old Bridge ends 150th anniversary with a tree lighting ceremony at the Thomas Warne Museum on Dec. 15.PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFFREY KAGAN

OLD BRIDGE – The Township of Old Bridge concluded its year-long 150th anniversary celebration with a tree lighting ceremony at the Thomas Warne Museum with Christmas carols from Voices of Old Bridge; reminiscing with one another; and cakes, cookies and hot cocoa galore.

Jeffrey Kagan, recording secretary of the museum, said two former students of the Cedar Grove School House – Dorothy Baldwin Sims and Sonia Heiser – reconnected with one another at the event after several decades. Sims and Heiser attended Cedar Grove in the 1940s and remembered each other when they were introduced at the event on Dec. 15.

“They had a nice afternoon reminiscing and even allowed the museum to record a brief interview with them about their history attending the school,” he said.

In March, township officials rolled out a marketing campaign with the theme “Celebrate Old Bridge” and held a number events to mark the township’s 150 years.

Street banners, pole banners and other signs, which included the logo of the township’s years 1869 to 2019 and names Madison-Old Bridge, were installed throughout the town, and bumper stickers “#OBProud” were distributed.

Madison Township, the future of Old Bridge Township, was established on March 2, 1869, when it broke from the township of South Amboy. The township was named in honor of the fourth president James Madison, a friend to small farmers who visited the area regularly while trying to date poet Philip Freneau’s sister, Mary Freneau, according to Thomas Warne Museum/Madison-Old Bridge Township Historical Society.

The Freneau homestead was known as Mount Pleasant Hall, which was located in the neighboring town of Matawan Township/Aberdeen.

The first council meeting was held on March 12, 1869. Officials renamed the town Old Bridge Township in 1975 to avoid confusion with the Borough of Madison in Morris County.

The celebration kicked off with the Mayor’s Health and Wellness Council’s inaugural Health and Wellness 5K honoring the township’s hometown heroes on March 30.

The Thomas Warne Museum held three separate lectures on the history leading up to 1869, on Madison Township from 1869 to 1975, and on Old Bridge Township 1975 to present.

A 150th anniversary float was constructed for Salt Water Day in August.