Gerry Calabrese, NJ’s longest running mayor, laid to rest

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CLIFFSIDE PARK, N.J. (PIX11) --  Flags flew at half-staff in Cliffside Park Friday. Crowds covered the sidewalks outside Epiphany Church and lined Anderson Avenue. Dozens were waiting pay their respects to the Mayor who served them for more than 50-years, Gerry Calabrese.

“Long time. Since I’m a little kid, he’s the only mayor I ever remember in this town,” said Jerry DeLisio. “He was very caring for the residents of Cliffside Park, very giving. And he did very good things for Cliffside,” added another resident, Teresa Federico.

Cliffside Park government buildings were closed on Friday. Anderson Avenue and multiple side streets were shut down to make way for the funeral procession. A motorcade of police led the way for a horse-drawn hearse, fire trucks, limos carrying the Calabrese family and 10 cars filled with flowers.

Among those who attended Friday’s funeral was Congressman Bill Pascrell, who hopped on a 4 a.m. train from Washington, D.C. With him, he carried a flag that flew over the Capital in Calabrese’s memory. He said he planned to present it to the family.

When asked how he thought Calabrese was able to stay in office for such a long stretch, Pascrell said, “He kept his word. He kept his word. When he said he was going to do something, he did it.”

Calabrese, who died on Monday, was 90 years old. He was a 3-year Navy veteran who served during World War II. He played professional basketball in for 2 years. And of course, he served his hometown for over 5 decades.

His son, Thomas Calabrese, has been serving as acting mayor since 2013, after the Mayor suffered a stroke. Mayor Gerry Calabrese’s term officially ends on Dec. 31st, 2015.

Photo credit: Cliffview Pilot