From young to old, what we love about New Jersey
There's been plenty of New Jersey-bashing over the past two days. But on Day 3 of our series covering different generations' views of and attitudes toward the Garden State, we look on the bright side.
From Millennials to the Silent Generation, plenty of New Jersey residents — most of whom have lived here all their lives — couldn't imagine leaving the state for any other.
Former New Yorker
At 20 years old, Joyce Jones moved from New York to New Jersey. Sixty-one years later, she remains in Manchester, where she gave birth to two children.
"I'm still here after all these years and wouldn't really think about leaving," she told New Jersey 101.5 while visiting Seaside Heights with her family.
One of her children, Darcel Terry, considers herself "one of the few people" who love New Jersey.
"I love the ocean. You can be 10 miles inland and you're in farm country," Terry said. "I picked blueberries last week; I picked strawberries the week before."
When asked for one of her fondest New Jersey memories, Terry recalled a tradition from her childhood — a pier on the Seaside Heights boardwalk would offer children a free ride for every A grade earned on their report card.
Henry Batista, 45, was forced to move to Florida for 10 years due to his young daughter's health issues. And 10 years was enough; he was itching to come back to Perth Amboy.
"That Jersey boy in me — I had to come home," he said. "When you're born and raised here ... it's kind of like a brotherhood, which is pretty interesting. I love New Jersey," he said.
Batista described New Jersey as his "final stop," noting the beaches in Florida don't match the New Jersey experience — specifically Sandy Hook.
"This is what I want. This is where I want to be," he said.
Alexandra Riley is a "Woodbridge lifer." She's married with an 11-month-old and teaches fourth-grade in Perth Amboy.
"I'm proud to be from here," she Riley said. "I'm staying here."
Riley said getting a shore house for the summer is a privilege one can't experience in just any state. And while MTV's "Jersey Shore" may have skewed the outsider's view of beachfront living, it's a lifelong staple that has provided countless memories for the 30-year-old.
"It's crazy how your shore house has changed. It starts family, then goes to friends, and always comes back to family," she said.
Her father, Felix Velez, is a big fan of the four seasons — as in the weather, not Frankie Valli's pop group born in Essex County.
"I can't foresee myself, as long as my children are here, being anywhere else," Velez said.
I'm a beacher
She moved to Manalapan nine years ago, but 77-year-old Joan Chasey remains strongly tied to Union Beach where she was born and raised. That's still where she attends Sunday Mass.
Her family owned half a block in the township, running a grocery store, ice cream parlor and ice business.
"I had the opportunity to move out but I just never did," Chasey said of her pre-retirement years. "I'm a beacher."
New Jersey has all the good (beaches, mountains and farms), and not all the bad (dangerous droughts or frequent tornadoes), and that's why, she says, she loves the state.
"It's a great place to live, I think," she said.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.