Glen Ridge Music Bridge returns for the holidays

Ava Otterbein from Glen Ridge sings ‘White Christmas’ as part of the Glen Ridge Music Bridge.

GLEN RIDGE, NJ — The Glen Ridge Music Bridge has made a return to the town’s recreation department for the holiday season and is now soliciting submissions of holiday music that can be shared with the community. Jim Cowan, the recreation director, said the program was successful in the spring when the town did it.

“We started this back when lockdown started in April,” Cowan said in a phone interview with The Glen Ridge Paper on Dec. 18. “It’s normally routine that people are in yards and on porches with guitars and singing. So when that couldn’t happen anymore, this was a cool way to connect with each other.”

The initiative asks residents to record a video of themselves performing a holiday song, post it on YouTube and send the link to Cowan at The videos will then be posted on the borough’s Facebook page, sent out to the townwide email list and aired on Glen Ridge TV. Throughout April and May, Cowan said, about 30 videos were submitted.

“We decided to bring it back for the holidays,” he said. “We’re trying to keep our residents connected during this difficult time.”

During the summer, the recreation department staff was bringing music back to the streets in Glen Ridge by holding curbside concerts, where people could perform on front lawns, with allowances for social distancing. It’s one of many innovations the staff had to come up with this year — the recreation department is used to planning events that bring people together. Cowan especially had to revamp services for senior citizens in town.

“We do a lot of programming for senior citizens,” he said. “One of the things we do is run a jitney for them, to take them food shopping and other places. Back in March, when things really hit hard, we couldn’t do that anymore.”

To help with grocery shopping, Glen Ridge started a volunteer program that matched seniors to shoppers who could deliver food and other essentials with no contact to minimize exposure to the virus. A list and a check is left in the mailbox, and the shopper leaves the groceries by the door.

Cowan doesn’t expect the program to end anytime soon, especially not before the end of the winter. It’s possible that it remains permanently, he said.

“We have learned some things that we might keep when things get back to normal,” Cowan said. “But now, hopefully we can give people a few minutes of solace during a difficult holiday season.”