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Fort Lee 'Utopia' On The Hudson Draws Labor Day Throng

Edgar and Lucas Salas hope their luck improves. Photo Credit: Melissa Heule
Erica Tait counts blessings. Photo Credit: Melissa Huele
Sean Martin with Apollo. Photo Credit: Melissa Huele
(Back row,) Rebecca Giarrantana (left), Stephanie Welch (right) with her daughters, Abby, 1, and Cay, 3 Photo Credit: Melissa Huele
Ahrahm Han, Sam Han, Sook Kyung Oh, Eunice Lee Photo Credit: Melissa Huele

FORT LEE, N.J. -- Barbecues were out in full force yesterday at Ross’s Dock along the Hudson RIver, where families and friends relaxed in the warm Labor Day sun with views of the Palisades, in the shadow of a George Washington Bridge adorned with the American flag.

Groups sat under tents and trees, while others brought soccer balls, bikes, boats and scooters to the open grounds and paths.

Eunice Lee, of Palisades Park, enjoyed the company of friends Ahrahm Han, Sam Han and Sook Kyung Oh before beginning her first year teaching at Christian Academy in Bergenfield to relax before she manages middle schoolers for the first time.

“I’m nervous. It’s my first year and I don’t know what to expect,” she said.

Construction worker Edgar Salas fished for flounder and striped bass with his 72-year-old father, Lucas Salas Cerpa from Peru. They arrived at 8 a.m. but after a couple of hours still hadn't pulled anything from the cloudy, choppy current.

Bergenfield native Sean Martin took time off from his steamfitting job in New York City to enjoy a barbecue with friends and play with his 3-year-old pitbull, Apollo, who sprinted for a ball in the open grass.

Working that day were a number of state park employees - among them, including Richard Salkind, an accountant who droe around the park while delivering bagged ice to replenish the snack stand.

“The park is a Utopia,” said Salkind, who's worked there the past 16 years.

Erica Tait of Closter work the stand, selling mini-barbecues, coals and iced treats. Families, cyclists and boaters scurried in and out for a quick, cool drink.

Tait, a 23-year-old Rutgers graduate, had a near-death encounter nearly a year ago when she fell from the Palisades while hiking alone.

Although she broke several bones and lay in the woods for six or seven hours, neither that nor a busy schedule have deterred her enjoyment of the park.

“I’ve been a crazy hiker ever since. I make sure I go twice a week," Tait said. "I’m definitely more adventurous."

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