Located directly between Philadelphia and Atlantic City, Hammonton was once visited by Ronald Reagan during his 1984 re-election campaign. Reagan’s speech highlighted Hammonton’s status as “Blueberry Capital of the World.” According to the North American Strawberry Growers Association, New Jersey’s blueberry harvest accounts for 21 percent of the nation’s total. One of the largest producers is the Atlantic Blueberry Company in Hammonton. The Galletta family started Atlantic Blueberry in 1935 with five acres in the southern New Jersey Pinelands. Today, the company can boast about their successful, cultivated blueberry farm operation that now encompasses over 1,300 acres. Each year, Hammonton hosts the Red, White and Blueberry Festival on a weekend near the Fourth of July. The local chamber of commerce estimates that over 250,000 berries are sold each day of the festival.
The beginning of Hammonton can be traced back to almost two centuries ago. During the war of 1812, William Coffin, in agreement with John Coates, built a saw mill along what later became known as Hammonton Lake. Coffin went into partnership with Jonathan Haines and started a glass factory. When Coffin died, his two sons, John Hammond Coffin and Edward Winslow Coffin, inherited the factory. The settlement also became known as "Hammondton." As one can see, the "d" was later dropped from the town's name. The "Winslow" Coffin moved a bit further west and founded the Winslow Township community of Winslow.
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Hammonton was now growing and became a business community as the saw mill, glass factory, and agriculture began to flourish. Every two weeks, church services were held by a traveling minister who conducted services in the community school house.
Hammonton was incorporated in 1866 and the community now had many of the buildings one would expect to find in a small town--a store, a post office, a school, a church, and a town center. When the railroad came to Hammonton, the town's population began to grow.
During the 1860s, Hammonton began to see Italian immigrates moving into the community along with their culture and customs. As of the 2000 census, 45.9% of town residents were of Italian ancestry, the second-highest percentage of any municipality in the United States (behind Johnston, Rhode Island, at 46.7%), and highest in New Jersey. News reports have said Hammonton leads the nation in Italian-Americans per capita.
Among the most characteristic and popular of Italian American cultural contributions has been their feasts. The Our Lady of Mount Carmel Festival has been celebrated annually in Hammonton for over 125 years.
Based on the 2000 Census, Hammonton now has a population of 12,604 residents. The town now encompasses an area of 40.8 square miles.
Hammonton’s entrepreneurial spirit is alive in the hearts and minds of the hundreds of local business owners who have literally “set up shop” in the town. Business in Hammonton encompasses the entire range of manufacturing, service, retail, professional, and agricultural interests. Once the center for thriving textile and pharmaceutical plants, the business community adapted and changed in the 1980s and 1990s, transitioning to a more service-based economy while retaining agricultural and manufacturing interests.
Access to employment is readily available, both inside the community and in the region. Hammonton’s location, 30 minutes from Philadelphia and Atlantic City, makes commuting to work easy. There is also a New Jersey Transit rail station, exchange ramps (North and South) for the Atlantic City Expressway, and New Jersey Transit bus stops to serve commuters.
The Greater Hammonton Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Hammonton work tirelessly to support the business community of the town. Their offices are centrally located in the downtown Historic Hammonton Train Station, at the corner of Egg Harbor Road (Route 561) and Bellevue Avenue (Route 54).
According to Hammonton’s Web site, the town has many fun events for South Jerseyans to take part in, including Cruisin’ Main Street, Red, White & Blueberry Festival, Independence Day Celebration, Kiwanis Halloween Parade, Hammonton-Saint Joseph Thanksgiving Weekend Football Game, Holiday Village Festival and Fireman’s Christmas Parade.
Cruisin’ Main Street: Remember Friday Nights
Downtown Hammonton – Enjoy the Cruise Night on Friday with live entertainment, hundreds of classic cars, and contests from the 50’s, held on a Friday in May. For more information, call (609) 567-9014.
Red, White, & Blueberry Festival
Hammonton High School located on Old Forks Road – Find blueberries, baked goods, crafts, and the Cruisin’ Classics Antique Car Show. For more information, call (609) 561-9080.
Independence Day Celebration
Enjoy food, fireworks, and fun at Hammonton Lake Park. Celebrated annually on July 4th.
Our Lady Of Mount Carmel Feast
Downtown Hammonton – Come and enjoy the food, carnival, and Procession of Our Lady Of Mount Carmel, a 128-year-old Italian Tradition. Sponsored by Saint Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church and The Our Lady Of Mount Carmel Society. Held the Week of July 16. For more information, call (609) 561-4818.
Puerto Rican Festival
Puerto Rican Civic Association Clubhouse – The event includes a festival and downtown parade. Held the last Week of August. For more information about the event, call (609) 567-4446
Kiwanis Halloween Parade
Downtown Hammonton – This is the Largest Parade of its Kind in New Jersey. Enjoy floats, costumes, and some good hometown fun on the last Wednesday in October. For information, write to P.O. Box 1086, Hammonton, NJ 08037.
Hammonton - Saint Joe Thanksgiving Weekend Football Game
Over 5,000 people attend the annual cross-town rivalry game each year. The game site alternates annually between each team’s home field. It is the Unofficial High School Reunion for alumni of both schools.
Holiday Village Festival
Downtown Hammonton – Enjoy true Americana, the Town Tree Lighting, Carolers, and Cookies With Santa. Held on the first Friday of December. Call (609) 567-9014 for more information.
Fireman’s Christmas Parade
Downtown Hammonton – Enjoy South Jersey’s Largest Fireman’s Parade with new and vintage fire equipment, music, and all of the fun of a winter parade. Held every December. Call (609) 567-4300, Extension 390 for more information.
For more information about the town of Hammonton, go to www.townofhammonton.org, www.myhammonton.com or www.hammontononline.com.
For more South Jersey Town information, visit our South Jersey Town News page.
Author: Meghan Shaginaw
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