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The Brian Stack Civic Association fundraiser on Nov. 1 had all the trappings of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade – including the arrival of Santa Claus (in the guise of Gov. Phil Murphy) at its end.
Although rumored to have expired earlier this year – the doors of its office closed briefly, the Civic Association with more than 3,000 people attending proved once more that it is alive and well. In Union City the holidays don’t start on Thanksgiving as with most places.
Holidays here start with fundraisers like this one where the cash is raised to buy the thousands of turkeys distribute it to people in Union City and parts of Jersey City near Thanksgiving.
The holiday ritual is such a tradition that people in Union City wait patiently at their doors for when the box truck rumbles down the street and scores of workers pile out and pound on their doors handing them the frozen bird.
Most residents do not realize the year-long effort that goes into raising these funds and how powerful the civic association has become since its inception.
Although wearing no red suit nor carrying a big red bag full of political gifts, Murphy’s appearance testifies to the significant relationship between Stack and all the governor’s before Murphy.
State Senator and Union City Mayor Brian Stack makes his Christmas wish list and ultimately governors tend to fill it for him.
Be it a Democratic governor like Murphy or a Republican Governor like Chris Christie, Stack has always managed to make sure Union City gets more than coal in its stocking at Christmas time and the rest of the year.
Murphy’s appearance at the association’s fundraiser has a lot to do with votes and the thousands perhaps ten thousand votes stack can guarantee to bring out in any election this comes a few weeks after Murphy made a previous appearance at the Hudson County Democratic Organization event in which state Senator and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco was honored.
Sacco and Stack more or less guarantee twenty thousand votes in each election, a sizable chunk of change for any candidate on a state-level especially one who is like Murphy who will be seeking re-election in a politically and geographically divided Democratic Party.
The sizable turnout for the association’s fundraiser required organizers to install additional tents to deal with the overflow crowd and testified to Stack’s ability to get people out when he needs to show off his political potency.
Stack’s ability to shift political gears in uncanny. In 2015, when assuming state Senator Stephen Sweeney would become the nominee for governor, Stack threw a similar party. When Murphy emerged as the leading contender, the association brought Murphy to Hudson County to introduce him.
Stack’s party is seen as the kickoff to the holiday season, where he thanks members of his civic association as well as the residents Union City and his legislative district for the work they did in making the turkey give away possible.
For almost two decades, the civic association has given out thousands of turkeys to needy people.
How many turkeys the civic association gives away is really anybody’s guess although estimates run from 30,000 to 40,000 last year.
Stack, who serves as mayor of Union City, also serves as state Senator, whose district includes nearly half of Jersey City, all of Hoboken, and Weehawken.
The number of turkeys given away has risen constantly over time and this year appears to mark the largest give away so far. The turkeys are paid for by the Brian P. Stack Civic Association.
The turkeys usually arrive by truck from the farms a few days before Thanksgiving, and are distributed by volunteers throughout the area, in some cases offloading boxes of turkeys in tenement buildings, where volunteers deliver them floor by floor, apartment by apartment.
The son of a train conductor, Stack grew up near the Old Yardley soap factory on Palisades Avenue and attended the now-demolished Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Union City.
With redistricting, Stack’s senatorial district has expanded into more of Jersey City, and with additional needy people, his operation has expanded.
Stack, along with other officials and volunteers, will be making house calls to deliver the turkeys and chat with residents in the week or so ahead of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving dinners are also usually given free of charge for the needy at various locations on Thanksgiving Day.
For more information or to request a turkey, call the Mayor’s Office at (201) 348-5755.