John Redden – 2004 Pascack Valley Citizen of the Year
The Greater Pascack Valley Chamber of Commerce has named John Redden, a River Vale resident, Citizen of the Year for 2004. An award ceremony will take place on Feb. 25, and those who have been touched by Redden’s endless generosity and warmth are encouraged to attend and show their support.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1954, Redden played many different roles in the community even as a child, have jobs ranging from paperboy to working on a fishing boat. He attended New York City Technical College, and earned an Associates Degree in Ophthalmic Dispensing. Soon after, he married his wife Carol. After working as an optician for several years, he bought The Optical Illusion in Westwood, fulfilling the dream of owning his own business. One year later Redden moved his growing family to Cresskill, and finally to River Vale in 1987. Today, the Redden family includes John and his wife Carol, as well as three children — Jacqueline, 21, Katie, 18, and Robert, 15.
From the time that Redden joined the Pascack Valley family, he has generously donated his time and money to its local organizations. Having been very successful in the area, he has warm feelings for Westwood and its surrounding towns, and believes that in order for them to thrive, local residents must do their share to provide the necessary support.
Redden has always been a fan of basketball, swimming and fishing, and has used these passions to encourage the community. In River Vale, he was head coach of girls’ basketball for two years, boys’ basketball for five years, boys’ soccer for three years, and has been the assistant coach of boys’ baseball. He has tried to instill in the kids the idea that sports are about having fun, not about competition.
Additionally, the many ads he has placed in school yearbook and journals have helped sponsor music, theater, football, cheering, and other school activities. As a big fan of golf, he has also attended and sponsored golf outings for several community groups and charities.
Having owned a Westwood-based business for over 20 years, Redden has been a loyal participant in the town’s Home for the Holidays celebration. At this annual December even, volunteers enter floats in accordance with each year’s chosen theme. Local merchants provide sponsorship, and residents enjoy a parade, refreshments, and the children meet with Santa Claus. Redden has entered a float at each celebration for the past 10 years. He spends weeks creating his own art word as scenery, and along with his friends, family and co-workers, dresses up in costumes that support the themes of his floats. In the past years they have entered floats depicting Snoopy, Cat in the Hat, Charlie Brown, Wizard of Oz, a 1960’s theme, and Harry Potter.
Redden also serves on the Board of Pascack Community Services, a subsidiary of the Well Care Group affiliated with Pascack Valley Hospital. According to Carol Redden, his involvement in this nonprofit group has been on of the greatest services Redden has provided on the local level. Helene Guss, director of public relations at Pascack Valley Hospital, has said of the organization, “Its mission is to conduct community health care and educational programs designed to reduce the risk to good health, and to bring these programs to the attention of the individual and corporate public. As a PCS Board member, John Redden is involved in its mission and goals and is dedicated to the health and welfare of the community.”
However, Redden is deserving of acclamation not only for the nature of his contributions, but for the way in which he undertakes them. He supports the community silently, seeking no attention or credit for his generosity. He participates in Pascack Valley events and supports his hometown organizations simply because the community is important to him. A truly warm person, Redden genuinely loves people, and can find a friend in almost anyone. Whether he is spending time at his business, coaching a basketball game, or dressing up in costume to stand atop a Snoopy float, Redden gets the most out of whatever he is doing.
It is for Redden’s vivacity, joviality, and modesty that he was chosen for the Citizen of the Year Award.