Music festivals, block parties and youth camps: Trenton is eyeing summer events as part of its revitalization effort

“Trenton was indeed at the crossroads of the revolution,” said Mayor Gusciora. “And we hope to benefit on historic tourism.”

a child in a canoe

Children in Trenton will have the opportunity to attend a weeklong summer camp. (Courtesy City of Trenton)

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A once-proud industrial city, Trenton has struggled with economic woes in recent decades.

As part of an ongoing effort to revitalize the city, officials are planning a series of spring and summer events.

Among the celebrations planned in June are a youth fishing derby, a Juneteenth celebration, a Pride festival and a 24-hour family-friendly art and music event. Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora said the goal is to foster a sense of unity and engagement.

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“It’s crucial to provide opportunities for residents of all ages and backgrounds to come together and just celebrate the vitality of the city,” Gusciora said.

In July, the city will launch a series of summer youth camps, and in August there will be two music festivals. Maria Richardson, Trenton’s parks and recreation director and the director of health and human services, said that during summer camps, kids will participate in sports activities and take trips to museums, swimming pools and adventure parks.

“We try to have a lot of activities for the children so they can enjoy their summers,” she said. “The more we engage the different portions of our community in recreational activities, the better they will feel about being in Trenton.”

During the early part of the 20th century, Trenton was a major manufacturing hub, with a booming population and a vibrant downtown. After World War II, the manufacturing industry declined and the city lost jobs, and younger families began moving to suburban areas for new employment opportunities.

Steve Tettamanti, the executive director of the New Jersey Historical Society, said this created many challenges for New Jersey’s capital city.

“The good news is arts and cultural organizations, artists, museums, theater, festivals and music venues have come into the city and revitalizing the area and attracting more visitors,” he said.

Tettamanti said the image of Trenton is slowly transforming, and the city is beginning to attract more visitors.

“Although this sometimes takes years, I have seen this happen in other places, and it’s one of the first steps in the restoration of districts and neighborhoods. It also promotes the attraction of businesses to the area,” he said.

Gusciora said he hopes the city will attract tourists this summer.

“This is a way to enjoy the sights and sounds of Trenton, and celebrate its ethnic diversity. We’re focusing on making each event safe and enjoyable but we’re also trying to attract that tourist dollar,” he said.

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The city is planning to host block parties in different neighborhoods every Monday and Wednesday throughout the summer. Residents will also be able to enjoy free movies at city parks every Thursday evening, along with free Friday night concerts.

“We are keeping our youth engaged in a lot of positive activities,” Richardson said. “We just want to take every opportunity to bring people together so they can feel good about being part of our community.”

Gusciora said American Recovery Act funding will pay for the summer events. The city is already planning a slew of activities for America’s 250th anniversary celebration.

“Trenton was indeed at the crossroads of the revolution, and we hope to benefit on historic tourism,” he said.

More information about the summer events can be found online.

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