By Krista Didzbalis and Scott Ladd, Media Relations Staff
Great Port Authority traditions often start with a simple idea.
Such was the case with the annual PATH Holiday Poster Contest. It was 30 years ago this year when Myron Hurwitz, a Port Authority customer service manager, approached Jersey City school officials with a suggestion. Hurwitz had seen the artwork of Jersey City students at local art exhibitions, and thought they deserved a bigger platform for their talents – and a way to help bring holiday cheer to PATH riders.
After discussions involving PATH and Ann Marley and Nancy Healey from the Jersey City Visual and Performing Arts program, a holiday tradition was born. The first winner was Laura Hudak, at the time a first-grader at Jersey City’s PS 38.
PATH and Jersey City marked the 30-year milestone with their annual ceremony, held at PATH’s Journal Square headquarters on Thursday, December 5, to unveil the 2019 prize winners. More than six million passengers riding the PATH this winter season will enjoy decorative artwork displayed in stations and rail cars, bringing a special feeling of joy and helping passengers find their true holiday spirit.
It’s a different PATH than when the contest debuted. Daily ridership numbers then stood at about 201,000 a day in 1989. Current ridership on average is closer to 300,000 on weekdays. New, modern stations, facilities and services are in place or in the pipeline as part of the ongoing effort to improve the commute for PATH customers.
But the more things change, the more one of the agency’s enduring traditions remains the same.
“This has been a wonderful partnership between PATH and the Jersey City community for 30 years, something we look forward to every year,” said PATH’s Linda Doss, who has directed the event since 2010. “We’re thrilled to be able to work with our friends at the Jersey City Board of Education on the holiday poster contest, and to recognize these talented young artists.”
The contest has evolved over the years. Initially designed for a single winner drawn from entries submitted by kindergarten through 8th grade students, it expanded to three age groups with one grand prize winner selected from the three category winners. Sixth-grader Lawrence Ballesteros from M.S. 7 was awarded the top prize this season for his depiction of a PATH train traveling through a holiday wreath. More than 500 students participated this year.
Marley, who was there at the beginning and now serves as Director of Visual and Performing Arts for the Jersey City school system, says the contest brings out the best in her students.
“The beauty of creating and sharing art is two-fold,” she said. “For the artist, it is the sheer joy of bringing your ideas, dreams, and hopes into an actual piece of art. The second experience of sheer joy is what the artist is able to make others see in their creation.”