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Honoring George Washington by ordering a pizza

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SPRINGFIELD -

Today is Presidents Day, and News 12's Brian Donohue has long harbored an idea for bringing a bit of George Washington history to life in a way people haven't seen.

With the help of a group of fifth-graders from Springfield Township, he set out to pull it off.

Donohue went to Mr. Abate's fifth-grade class at the James Caldwell School in Springfield, and to honor George Washington, they did the most Positively Jersey thing: order a pizza.

But they ordered a pizza the way George Washington ordered his pizza, or the way he would have ordered a pizza if he could have ordered a pizza when he was in New Jersey: use smoke signals.

Here is the reasoning:

On June 23, 1780, an American lookout saw the British moving west toward Washington's Morristown stronghold and lights one of 23 giant signal flares that had been set up along the Watchung Ridge.

The flare alerts local militia, who turn the British back at the Battle of Springfield.

Donohue used smoke signals from the same spot to get a message to the kids and Meridoc Burkhardt, playing Rev. James Caldwell, who famously inspired the American troops at the Battle of Springfield, to indicate what he wanted for lunch. 

“This is actually how George Washington and I would communicate,” says Burkhardt. “Be thankful that you can just use your, what is it called? Phone!”

Donohue delivers the code. A steady stream of smoke means he want sausages; puff, pepperoni. If the kids see no smoke, Donohue watches them eat and goes home hungry.

Up to Washington Rock, about 1.4 miles away, proud patriot Millburn Fire Marshall Tom Pizzano has lent his smoke machine to the cause.

“Dispatch be advised we have a smoke machine operating up on Crest Drive in the reservation, so if you have any calls about smoke, just give me a call,” says Pizzano.

The only problem is the wind was blowing it up the ridge and away from him, but hopefully it will get high enough.

There was a little confusion among the troops down in the valley.

The message got a little muddled, but in the end, success, just enough smoke for the kids to see from the sidewalk outside their school, and enough for Donohue to earn his slice of the pie.

More importantly, a Positively Jersey way to honor George Washington. 

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