BY Kathy Zucker • Sunday, November 23rd, 2014
I love to walk. Four to five days each week, I walk for miles between my home in Hoboken, NJ, my kids’ school and the train station, often pushing a heavy stroller along crowded streets. I barely notice the blocks melting away as I glance into shop windows, check out cute chalkboard displays and pass people I have met in the past. Sometimes those encounters turn into curbside conversations where we stand, engrossed in discussion, for twenty minutes or longer. But more often an exchange is met with a delighted smile and wave, or a shoulder pat as a friend passes me sitting on a bench.
When the temperature dips, I wind up driving a lot more. I recently invested in waterproof cold weather runners gear in an effort to keep the walks going, but it’s a tough sell to drag three kids ages 8, 6 and 2 along on freezing marathons. One kid forgets a hat, another refuses to wear gloves, and then there’s my all-time favorite – the “I don’t want to wear a coat.”
So where can I go where we can keep walking and not worry about anyone freezing to death? Newport Centre Mall, steps from the light rail located one block from my home. The kids are always excited to visit, peering out of the glass elevator to see if Santa is there.
We often grab a bite to eat.
On days when it is raining or too cold to play outside, we grab a $5 headband and let the kids work off energy in the Kidville Sears playspace. The kids always make new friends and I get to talk to the grownups manning the entrance.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I used to run into many Hoboken moms at Newport Mall as they came to find refuge, warmth and electricity in the months before our city was back up and running. Many of us have continued to head there to enjoy new offerings like Panera Bread on the ground floor and expanded food court options. I am planning to bring the kids this week to do their holiday shopping – I am handing each child $10 for each family member and telling them they can buy anything they want. We will also be buying for families in need – there is a tree next to the Santa area equipped with hangtags specifying toy requests plus the age and gender of each recipient.