2011 is set to start things off right this weekend with a wide-ranging mix of enjoyable goings-on all over our area that, no doubt, will have something to satisfy everyone’s activity itch in your household at some point over the next three days.  

The Seton Hall Pirates take on the Syracuse Orangemen in an exciting college basketball match-up on Saturday. There’ll be stellar rock and pop music for kids from singer Bari Koral at SOPAC twice on Sunday. The South Orange Civic Organization holds its annual Martin Luther King Celebration with featured speaker, Dr. Edyth M. Abdulah, President of Essex County College, on Sunday afternoon. 

In Maplewood, Gas Gallery presents an art retrospective and reception for the multi-disciplinary work of the Sullivan Brothers on Saturday; and the Maplewood Memorial Library Hilton Branch hosts the 2011 Winter season of Children’s Chess Club starting Saturday and continuing through March. Coda livens things up on Sunday with a new musical brunch feature.

Here’s the Weekender’s full listing for this weekend, plus a preview listing of some other great stuff coming up later this month:

  • Children’s Chess Club at Maplewood Memorial Library: The Hilton Branch of the Maplewood Memorial Library on Springfield Avenue plays host to the Winter 2011 season of the Maplewood Children’s Chess Club, beginning this Saturday and continuing every Saturday through the end of March. The Club is meant for children ages 7 and up and their parents, and will be limited to 10 students. Prior knowledge of chess piece movement is necessary. Registration is $25. Saturday, beginners from 10 to 11 a.m. and advanced beginners from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Free Mock SAT: The Maplewood Memorial Library on the other side of town, on Baker Street, will be offering a free Mock SAT for high school students this Saturday.  The event is free but pre-registration is required.  Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
  • Seton Hall University Men’s Basketball: The Seton Hall University Pirates Men’s Basketball Team takes on the Orangemen of Syracuse this weekend at The Prudential Center in Newark. Cheer on the local team and enjoy the excitement of great college basketball courtside. Get tickets online or call. Saturday, starting at 12 p.m.
  • The Sullivan Brothers Retrospective and Reception at Gas Gallery:  The public is invited to the opening of Gas Gallery’s newest art exhibition, entitled “The Sullivan Brothers – a Retrospective.” Paintings, sculptures, drawings and photographs will be displayed to demonstrate the widely varied love of the arts shared by artist Wayne Sullivan and his late brother, Steve. An opening artist Reception will also be held on Saturday, from 2 to 5 p.m. The show continues through January 30.
  • Piano Man Larry Hunt at HighlandPlace Restaurant: Singer and pianist Larry Hunt performs again this Saturday at HighlandPlace Bar and Grill in Maplewood. Originally from Nutley, Hunt has entertained all over the USA and throughout Western Europe during his long career. Expect to hear great jazz, blues, boogie, roots rock, and New Orleans soul throughout the night. Reservations are recommended. Saturday, from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
  • Bari Koral at SOPAC: Called the “The IT girl in kids’/family music” by New York Magazine, and having already received rave reviews from the likes of The NY Post, The New York Times, LA Parent, Time  Out NY Kids, and more, Bari’s album Rock and Roll Garden is also a recent winner of NAPPA Gold and Parents’ Choice Silver awards.  She “draws upon years as a successful touring singer/songwriter and as a teacher of kids’ yoga and music and movement classes to create shows that speak to the whole family, blending great  songwriting with superb singing, musicianship and movement.” All ages, with tickets $15. Sunday, at 11 a.m. and again at 2 p.m.
  • South Orange Civic Organization’s MLK Celebration: The South Orange Civic Organization presents its 41st Annual Martin Luther King Celebration with the theme “Education: Equity and Expectations.” This year’s ceremony will be held at the South Orange Middle School and will feature speaker Dr. Edyth M. Abdulah, President of Essex County College. The Organization will present its “Beloved Community” awards this year to Alfred Bundy and Margaret Prentice. The event is co-sponsored by the South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race and is free and open to the public.  Sunday, starting at 3 p.m.
  • On Sunday, January 9, Coda Kitchen Bar introduces its new jazz brunch with local piano player Lee Glantz from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Jazz brunch will continue every Sunday, featuring Glantz and other performers.

Next weekend and later this January, you can look forward to some of the following highlights:

Donald Pun lives in Maplewood and posts The Weekender column here each week.  Previously, he was a regular contributor for the NY Times’ Maplewood, South Orange, and Millburn Local blog section.