Ho-Ho-Kus was incorporated as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on October 12, 1908, from what had originally been the borough of Orvil, which was in turn created on March 8, 1905, from portions of Orvil Township.
The meaning of the name Ho-Ho-Kus is in debate. From the official history on the borough's website, the most likely origin is a contraction of the Delaware Indian term "Mah-Ho-Ho-Kus" (or "Mehokhokus"), meaning "the red cedar."
Other meanings have been suggested over the years and are listed on the borough's website, including an Indian word for running water, a cleft in the rock or under the rock or hollow rock, the word "hohokes", signifying the whistle of the wind against the bark of trees, the Chihohokies Indians whose chief lived here, the Dutch Hoog Akers for "high acorns" or Hoge Aukers, Dutch for "high oaks", the Indian word hoccus meaning "fox", or woakus, "gray fox", or that the "Ho" part means joy or spirit, and the rest of the name from "hohokes," meaning a kind of bark of a tree.
Ho-Ho-Kus versus Hohokus
A constant source of confusion has been the manner in which the borough's name has been styled, with each syllable capitalized and separated by hyphens. The confusion is only exacerbated by the existence of Hohokus Township, which comprised the area of present-day Ho-Ho-Kus and other surrounding communities, yet was styled without the multiple capitalization or the hyphens. Ho-Ho-Kus is served by interchange 168 on the Garden State Parkway which lists the municipality as "Hohokus" on its exit signing.
The name "Ho-Ho-Kus" was used explicitly in the resolution requesting a change of name passed by the Borough Council on October 12, 1908 and submitted to the Secretary of State of New Jersey requesting "That the Borough now known as the Borough of Orvil be hereafter known as the Borough of Ho-Ho-Kus..."
A few theories have been offered for the hyphens and capitalization. One is that it was intended to differentiate between the borough and Hohokus Township, which was formed on April 9, 1849, and continued to exist until November 7, 1944, when a referendum was passed changing the name to present-day Mahwah. Another explanation was that it was meant to avoid confusion by postal clerks with mail being sent to Hoboken.
While efforts had been made in the ensuing decades to change the name or to alter the way in which the name of the borough is capitalized and punctuated, the borough remains as "Ho-Ho-Kus."
Warren Avenue Bridge crossing the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 1.749 square miles (4.530 km2), including 1.735 square miles (4.494 km2) of land and 0.014 square miles (0.036 km2) of water (0.80%).
There were 1,401 households out of which 40.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 74.2% were married couples living together, 6.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 17.6% were non-families. 15.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.91 and the average family size was 3.26.
In the borough, the population was spread out with 29.3% under the age of 18, 4.6% from 18 to 24, 18.8% from 25 to 44, 31.5% from 45 to 64, and 16.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43.3 years. For every 100 females there were 95.5 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 89.7 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006–2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $155,030 (with a margin of error of +/− $14,301) and the median family income was $157,202 (+/− $13,820). Males had a median income of $93,750 (+/− $26,877) versus $83,636 (+/− $27,361) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $67,238 (+/− $11,693). About 1.9% of families and 1.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 0.6% of those under age 18 and 6.3% of those age 65 or over.
There were 1,433 households out of which 38.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 76.6% were married couples living together, 6.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 16.3% were non-families. Of all households 14.6% were made up of individuals and 7.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.82 and the average family size was 3.11.
In the borough the population was spread out with 27.5% under the age of 18, 3.3% from 18 to 24, 26.6% from 25 to 44, 27.3% from 45 to 64, and 15.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.2 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $129,900, and the median income for a family was $144,588. Males had a median income of $92,573 versus $54,091 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $63,594. Of the population 2.1% of the people and 2.6% of families were below the poverty line. Of those 0.7% under the age of 18 and 1.6% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.
Ho-Ho-Kus is primarily an upper-class and upper-middle class suburb of New York City, ranking 15th in the state of New Jersey in terms of per-capita income. According to the Forbes 2010 survey of the most expensive ZIP codes in America, Ho-Ho-Kus ranked 268th nationally, with a median home price of $901,841.
Ho-Ho-Kus is governed under the Borough form of New Jersey municipal government. The governing body consists of a Mayor and a Borough Council comprising six council members, with all positions elected at-large on a partisan basis as part of the November general election. A Mayor is elected directly by the voters to a four-year term of office. The Borough Council consists of six members elected to serve three-year terms on a staggered basis, with two seats coming up for election each year in a three-year cycle. The Borough form of government used by Ho-Ho-Kus, the most common system used in the state, is a "weak mayor / strong council" government in which council members act as the legislative body with the mayor presiding at meetings and voting only in the event of a tie. The mayor can veto ordinances subject to an override by a two-thirds majority vote of the council. The mayor makes committee and liaison assignments for council members, and most appointments are made by the mayor with the advice and consent of the council.
As of 2019[update], the Mayor of Ho-Ho-Kus is Republican Thomas W. Randall, whose term of office ends December 31, 2019. Members of the Borough Council are Council President Douglas K. Troast (R, 2021), Kevin Crossley (R, 2019), Edmund M. Iannelli (R, 2020), Dane M. Policastro (R, 2021), Philip Rorty (R, 2019) and Steven D. Shell (R, 2020).
Thomas Fiato was selected in January 2016 from a list of three candidates nominated by the municipal Republican committee to fill the seat of Kimberley Weiss, who had resigned earlier that month after announcing that she was relocating out of the borough.
Donald G. Cirulli is the Borough Administrator.
Bergen County is governed by a directly elected County Executive, with legislative functions performed by a seven-member Board of Chosen Freeholders. The freeholders are elected at-large in partisan elections on a staggered basis, with two or three seats coming up for election each year; a Chairman, Vice Chairman and Chairman Pro Tempore are selected from among its seven members at a reorganization meeting held each January.
As of 2018[update], the County Executive is Democratic James J. Tedesco III of Paramus, whose term of office ends December 31, 2018. Bergen County's Freeholders are
Freeholder Chairman Thomas J. Sullivan Jr., (D, Montvale, term as freeholder ends 2019; term as freeholder chairman ends 2018),
Freeholder Vice-Chairwoman Germaine M. Ortiz (D, Emerson, term as freeholder ends 2019; term as freeholder vice-chairwoman ends 2018),
Freeholder Chairman Pro-Tempore Mary J. Amoroso (D, Mahwah, term as freeholder ends 2019; term as freeholder chairman pro-tempore ends 2018),
David L. Ganz (D, Fair Lawn, 2020),
Steve Tanelli (D, North Arlington, 2018),Joan Voss (D, Fort Lee, 2020) and
Tracy Silna Zur (D, Franklin Lakes, 2018), Bergen County's constitutional officials are
County Clerk John S. Hogan (D, Northvale, 2021),
Sheriff Michael Saudino (D, Emerson, 2019) and
Surrogate Michael R. Dressler (D, Cresskill, 2021).
As of March 23, 2011, there was a total of 2,981 registered voters in Ho-Ho-Kus, of whom 546 (18.3% vs. 31.7% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 1,456 (48.8% vs. 21.1%) were registered as Republicans and 976 (32.7% vs. 47.1%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 3 voters registered to other parties. Among the borough's 2010 Census population, 73.1% (vs. 57.1% in Bergen County) were registered to vote, including 103.3% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 73.7% countywide).
In the 2012 presidential election, Republican Mitt Romney received 1,447 votes (62.8% vs. 43.5% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 826 votes (35.9% vs. 54.8%) and other candidates with 21 votes (0.9% vs. 0.9%), among the 2,303 ballots cast by the borough's 3,116 registered voters, for a turnout of 73.9% (vs. 70.4% in Bergen County). In the 2008 presidential election, Republican John McCain received 1,440 votes (58.1% vs. 44.5% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 1,009 votes (40.7% vs. 53.9%) and other candidates with 15 votes (0.6% vs. 0.8%), among the 2,478 ballots cast by the borough's 3,066 registered voters, for a turnout of 80.8% (vs. 76.8% in Bergen County). In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 1,547 votes (62.2% vs. 47.2% countywide), ahead of Democrat John Kerry with 916 votes (36.8% vs. 51.7%) and other candidates with 18 votes (0.7% vs. 0.7%), among the 2,489 ballots cast by the borough's 2,987 registered voters, for a turnout of 83.3% (vs. 76.9% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 74.4% of the vote (1,085 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 24.6% (358 votes), and other candidates with 1.0% (15 votes), among the 1,479 ballots cast by the borough's 3,042 registered voters (21 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 48.6%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 1,063 votes (62.5% vs. 45.8% countywide), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 553 votes (32.5% vs. 48.0%), Independent Chris Daggett with 76 votes (4.5% vs. 4.7%) and other candidates with 3 votes (0.2% vs. 0.5%), among the 1,701 ballots cast by the borough's 3,024 registered voters, yielding a 56.3% turnout (vs. 50.0% in the county).
After ending a long-standing sending relationship to Ridgewood High School in the mid-1970s, Ho-Ho-Kus students started attending Midland Park High School. The small size of the Midland Park school and the lack of electives led to efforts in the mid-1990s to find another high school to serve students from the borough. Since then, high school students from Ho-Ho-Kus have been attending Northern Highlands Regional High School. The send / receive agreement between Ho-Ho-Kus and Northern Highlands began in the 1990s. In 2016, the Ho-Ho-Kus and Northern Highlands districts reached an agreement to extend the send / receive agreement through 2026 under a fixed-price contract by which Ho-Ho-Kus would pay $3.6 million for the 2016–17 school year, escalating by 2% a year to $4.3 million in 2025–26, regardless of the number of students from the borough sent to the high school.
The borough is home to the Ho-Ho-Kus Waldwick Cooperative Nursery School.
Route 17 northbound in Ho-Ho-Kus
Roads and highways
As of May 2010[update], the borough had a total of 26.52 miles (42.68 km) of roadways, of which 19.50 miles (31.38 km) were maintained by the municipality, 6.01 miles (9.67 km) by Bergen County and 1.01 miles (1.63 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
^ abTaylor, Bob. "All about demonyms, or What’s in a name?", Communities Digital News, February 8, 2016. Accessed October 25, 2017. "There are the 'Ho-Ho-Kusites' from Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey and the 'Las Vegans' in Nevada."
^Biography, Congressman Josh Gottheimer. Accessed January 3, 2019. "Josh now lives in Wyckoff, New Jersey with Marla, his wife who was a federal prosecutor, and their two young children, Ellie and Ben."
^Crusco, Jennifer. "Trustees approve new 10-year contract with Highlands", The Villadom Times, March 4, 2009. Accessed September 7, 2011. "The Ho-Ho-Kus Board of Education last week signed a new send/receive contract with Northern Highlands Regional High School in Annandale, which covers 2008 (retroactively) through 2018.... Ho-Ho-Kus has been sending its high school age students to Northern Highlands since the 1990s, when the district severed its send/receive relationship with Midland Park High School."
^Northern Highlands Regional High School and the Borough of Ho-Ho-Kus announced a new 10-year send/receive agreement through 2026 last week.... The total tuition to be paid by Ho-Ho-Kus for the 2016 to 2017 school year is $3,580,675. The fee increases by approximately 2 percent per year to $4,279,238 in the 2025 to 2026 school year."
^Langston, Lee S. "Our Founder – IGTI's R. Tom Sawyer", p. 79, Global Gas Turbine News, September 2015. Accessed July 2, 2017. His home was close to New York City in the singularly named New Jersey town of Ho-Ho-Kus (a contraction of a Delaware Indian name, 'the red cedar')."
^Richard Warch biography, Lawrence University. Accessed June 7, 2007. "A native of Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, Warch earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Williams College in 1961, his Bachelor of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School in 1964, and the Ph.D. in American studies from Yale University in 1968."