New Jersey’s new state song:
From the Record:
Mascara, also known as Joseph Rocco Mascari of Phillipsburg, was a fixture at the State House for 55 years as he lobbied lawmakers to adopt his tune, “I’m from New Jersey” as the official state song. Mascara died last June at the age of 92 without realizing that dream.
“You would see him with a little can and in the can was some candy,” Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, R-Monmouth, recalled last week. “He would ask with a smile, ‘Have a piece of candy?’
And then he would add, “Remember, we need a state song.”
This month, the Assembly remembered when lawmakers in a 71-1 vote approved “The Red Mascara Act.”
The bill was a compromise that would designate five songs with various “official” labels.
As detailed in the bill approved this month, Mascara’s tune, composed in 1960, would be the “state song.” Another composition, “New Jersey, My Home” by Teaneck educator Patrick Finley, would be the “state anthem.” “In New Jersey,” with lyrics inspired by fourth-graders at a school in Bridgewater would become the state “children’s song.”
“New Jersey U.S.A.” by Nelson Trout, would be the “state ballad” and “Be Proud to Be in New Jersey” by Mark and Ellen Winter would be the “state popular song.”
But the compromise appears to have hit a snag in the Senate, where Senate President Stephen Sweeney has nixed the idea of having multiple state songs.
“The Senate president believes that the best way to celebrate New Jersey’s attributes in song is to designate one song rather than five,” said Richard McGrath, a spokesman for the Senate Democrats. “A single song would be more distinctive and more memorable.”
Mascara’s grandson Lee said he remains optimistic — like his grandfather — that something good ultimately will come of all this. His optimism is reflected in Mascara’s song, which includes these lyrics:
“I’m From New Jersey and I’m proud about it,
I love the Garden State;
I’m From New Jersey and I want to shout it,
I think it’s simply great.”