What a day.
It started off with me waking up in my own bed, in my own room. The sun filled up the room and I felt so comfortable lying there on a Saturday morning. Even my dog Chico was sleeping at the end of the bed. It was bliss. My Dad picked up breakfast sandwiches and we went to my grandparents house to drop off our power washer, they had asked if they could borrow it. Seeing my Dad interact with his parents was really sweet. We all caught up briefly but the day was busy so my father and I had to go. Once we got home I spread soil on a portion of the backyard as he watered the plants. As the day progressed my Mom had mentioned to me that today was Community Day and they were setting up in the back-park. Community Day is an event where people from Peapack & Gladstone come together to share food with one another, listen and dance to music, and just have fun! It always happens in the beginning of summer. I remember when I went as a kid it felt like the true beginning of summer. The smell of the BBQ, fresh watermelon, fun paintings, ice cream, and an assortment of little fun rides (and a dunk tank!). The event began and I could hear the music from my house. I walked from my house, past the backyard, and into the “back-park.” It was wonderful. It seemed like other than it’s location, it hasn’t changed at all.
Kids running around with ice cream. Parents chatting as they watched their kids run around with ice cream… High Schoolers playing basketball. A huge assortment of food running down a long table. Small tents, a DJ setup, and two or three inflatable rides. Everyone seemed to be having a really great time. The feeling of community felt very present.
This Ice cream Truck is owned by a family in town. If you look it says "5 Brothers Treats" Yes, the family is made up of the two parents and 5 boys.
Eventually I found myself near the DJ, or should I say DJ’s. I met the two people controlling the music and mic for the event. Matt and Aidan. Matt played the music as Aidan was the announcer.
Matt was an adult and Aidan was presumably in Middle school. The two were killing it at the event. Aidan would talk between songs, encourage people to dance, and crack some hilarious jokes. I’m not kidding Aidan was a natural. He was so comfortable on the mic it made the whole event at least double the fun. I ask them how they got the gig and they said last year they did the event and they were liked so much they were asked to do it again. Aidan announced a dance competition for the craziest dancer. The winner would get a free ice cream. As ‘Twist and Shout’ came on by The Beatles it seemed only the little kids got the message. Here’s a photo of them dancing.
I put down the camera and joined them for the rest of the song. Once the song ended, Aidan cheered on the dancers and told us “next time the adults should really come in and dance.” Once more he said this but this time he emphasized upon it. “I would please ask the ADULTS to come out from the crowd and dance next song.” The kid was hilarious.
I go back home and grab my bike from the basement. On August 4th this year I have a triathlon in Block Island, Rhode Island. I’m really excited for it and I’ve started to bike more. Continuing, I grab my bike and start heading up Main Street to a park called Natirar. On my way I noticed lots of cars outside my local Church. Agh! I realized it was for Saturday night Mass. Once I realized this I asked myself if I should go in. Quickly, I pull my bike into the parking lot and lay it next to the stone wall of the Church. I walk in and it was surprisingly packed! I actually had to stand in the back there were so many people. The mass was beautiful.
The Church has alluring wood rafters in the inside that create the framework of the roof. Classic wooden pews with no cushions, just like a bench. Stained glass with depictions of Jesus, Mary, and others of that time. I wish I could take a picture, the mass felt special. I remembered that I was in fact baptized here.
After mass I continued to ride my bike towards Natirar. Here’s a picture from the park.
I arrived home sweaty and tired. Took a quick shower, then I realized that the event in the back-park was still going on! Everyone was there and it seemed even more fun than before. I saw the local EMS team there and gathered enough courage to approach them. I told them about my series and asked if they could talk about themselves for a little. John, a team member, told me that they are part of the Peapack and Gladstone First Aid Squad. They respond to 911 calls and provide services intended to save lives. John also told me that work is completely volunteered base. Not one person gets payed to help. John said, “Most of the time you’ll get billed for making an emergency call to the hospital, however with Peapack & Gladstone EMS you won’t get billed.” I really appreciated his response and thanked them for their work.
As the event ended I asked myself why aren’t these type of “events” held more often. Everybody was having a fun and relaxing time, why doesn’t this happen every week or every month? OK, so maybe you couldn’t have the inflatable rides or dunk tank every time, but everything else was provided by the community. People brought food, chairs, music, and each other. There’s nothing stopping us from doing something like this literally tomorrow. One day, I want What’s Cooking to be the platform that can help events like this spur.