Cedar Grove playground renamed in honor of Nutley mayor’s father

Photo Courtesy of Essex County
Essex County recently dedicated the playground in Cedar Grove Park as the Thomas J. Tucci Sr. Playground. Attending the unveiling are, from left, state Sen. M Teresa Ruiz; Port Authority of NY & NJ board Chairperson Kevin O’Toole; Tucci Sr.’s children Tom Tucci, Michele Pucci, Cathie Soriano, Mauro Tucci and Gerard Tucci; Assemblyman Ralph Caputo; and Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr.

CEDAR GROVE, NJ — Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. recently dedicated the playground in Cedar Grove Park as the Thomas J. Tucci Sr. Playground. Tucci was a Cedar Grove resident who had a lifetime of involvement promoting youth recreation activities and upgrading public athletic facilities.

“Mr. Tucci was a role model and father figure for many of the children in Newark when I was growing up and was very influential in my life. He was a champion for youth recreation and was continually lobbying for improved fields,” DiVincenzo said. “When he moved to Cedar Grove, he continued his involvement in the community and remained dedicated to creating safe recreation opportunities for youth. Naming the playground in Cedar Grove Park (after him) is a fitting honor and will bring recognition to his life’s work.”

Tucci died in 1999. He is the father of Cedar Grove township manager Thomas Tucci Jr. and Nutley Mayor Mauro Tucci.

“This dedication means so much to me and my family. My father’s passion in life was helping people. When he was coaching, he was not just teaching his players about the game; he was teaching them about values and teamwork. He left his legacy in all the programs he ran and fields that he lobbied to improve. My father was the greatest to me, but it feels even better when other people acknowledge it,” Tucci Jr. said.

“I have known the Tucci family for so many years. I believe Tom would be overwhelmed by this honor. He was like a father to all of us and was one of the greatest human beings,” Port Authority of New York & New Jersey board Chairperson Kevin O’Toole said.

A bronze plaque and wooden sign were placed at the entrance to the playground. The bronze plaque reads, “Thomas J. Tucci Sr. worked for Charms Candy in Newark for 33 years and at the Essex County Police Academy for 25 years, but his real passion was providing children with meaningful and safe recreation opportunities. As a founder and member of the Cedar Grove Youth Advisory Commission, Mr. Tucci developed programs, activities and athletic teams that kept children active, taught them sportsmanship and fostered leadership skills. Seeing the need for improved recreation programs, Tom became one of the founders of the Branch Brook Little League, president of the Newark Pop Warner Football Program and president of the Sacred Heart PTO. In the 1980s, he lobbied county officials to give the first-ever facelift to the athletic fields in the Branch Brook Park Middle Division. His spirit and legacy can be seen every spring when thousands of boys and girls run the bases on their ‘field of dreams.’ To recognize Mr. Tucci’s many contributions and his lifelong purpose of providing children with opportunities and places to learn, grow and have fun, we are pleased to dedicate the playground in Essex County Cedar Grove Park in his honor.”