AROUND NJ

10 Things New Jerseyans Can Be Happy For This Year

By Brenda Flanagan
Correspondent

Is going home the best gift of all? Ask these two families in Belmar that were left homeless by Superstorm Sandy. They worked for almost three years to rebuild. It took a lot of help from the community, but finally their wish came true.

“It was amazing. I walked in and I said, ‘I’m home!'” Shaun Keefe said.

Other Sandy families are still waiting to go home were also hoping for good news after FEMA urged them to reapply for federal aid. It signified at least a partial victory for many Sandy victims who’ve been battling government red tape.

Persistent lobbying finally paid off late this year when Congress passed a budget that ensures treatment for 9/11 responders under the Zadroga Act.

“I think in this holiday season, I think that this is the best present we could have given ourselves,” David Howley, former NYPD officer, said.

For Jersey motorists low gas prices helped fuel happier holidays. Prices per gallon dropped below $1.80. With temperatures running into the 60s and 70s it’s also costing a lot less to keep warm. Can you say, halleluja?

And there are even more reasons to celebrate! Soccer star and Jersey Girl Carli Lloyd came home to a hero’s welcome this year after winning the World Cup.

“She’s so inspiring and she’s such a great player that when I watch her games I want to play like her,” said Olivia Vricella of Medford.

Turning 100 this year is ole blue eyes. Sinatra fans celebrated his centennial birthday this year in Frankie’s hometown of Hoboken.

“I love Frank Sinatra!” one fan said.

For holiday cheers from the sidelines, it’s hard to beat Monmouth University’s basketball bench.

And because every heart-warming holiday story needs kittens, meet the felines who purred their way into corporate hearts during a special, Uber-sponsored adoption day.

Here’s an even braver rescue — Ocean Gate officer Jonathan Whitney chases a skunk that’s gotten its head stuck in a juice box. He saves the little stinker without getting sprayed.

But the truly historic winner was American Pharoah, who took the Triple Crown for the first time in 37 years and made it look easy.

During the Haskell, Pharoah drew thousands of fans and $20 million to the Jersey Shore. Now that’s holiday cheer.