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Patriotic state resident promotes tune as official New Jersey song

If New Jersey native Red Mascara has his way, University students and Garden State residents alike will soon be proudly singing the tune "I'm From New Jersey" along with the more established patriotic odes "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "Old Nassau."

Mascara, a 75-year-old resident of Phillipsburg, N.J., has been staging a 38-year effort to get his song "I'm From New Jersey" adopted as the official state song.

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Mascara said he penned the "bright" ditty to express his state pride, perhaps counteracting Jersey detractors who term the state the "armpit of the nation."

Mascara said not only is his tune written for New Jersey, but it can be adapted to any twoor three-syllable municipality like Princeton, Newark or Trenton. He added that a number of towns have taken advantage of the song's versatility.

The original song makes one reference to Princeton, Mascara said, adding that the town mention is intended to commemorate the Battle of Princeton rather than the University.

However, Mascara said he invites University students to adapt the song to fit any aspect of their New Jersey civil pride.

The song is quintessentially patriotic, with an introduction of a fife, drums and trumpets combining with men's barbershop singing. According to the "I'm From New Jersey" Web site, there is also a "symphonic" version that begins with a saxophone introduction, transitioning into a marching band tune with trombones, flutes and trumpets.

The history

Mascara said he wrote the song in 1960 after then-governor Robert Meiner (D-N.J.), a fellow Phillipsburgian, lamented that there was no state song to play at his official appearances.

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In 1961, Phillipsburg celebrated its 100th anniversary and adopted "I'm From New Jersey" for its gala as well as its official municipal song.

Then-senator Wayne Dumont (R- N.J.) liked the song so much he introduced it into state legislature, Mascara said. However, the effort to officialize "I'm From New Jersey" as the state tune has been a long and fruitless road – the adoption of the song has been proposed to the state legislature at every meeting since 1961 without success.

In 1972, the proposition reached the governor, who vetoed it because "he thought the state song should have the support of the state," Mascara said, adding that the governor apparently didn't recognize the song's popularity.

Mascara will again head this year's effort to have the state adopt the song. He said he expects to have many sponsors, and estimated that 71 of 80 state assemblymen and 27 of 40 state senators will support the song.

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"New Jersey is great. I feel just like the words in the song," Mascara said.

The song was published in 1961 by a record company owned by Frank Sinatra, and has been played on "the Perry Como Show, the Letterman Show, and Good Morning America," he said.

This past year, it was featured on CBS' "Sunday Morning."

New Jersey residents and fans can access the proposed state song at http://www.njstatesong.com.

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