MILLTOWN, NJ - On November 3, the borough unveiled a new street sign at the intersection of Herbert Avenue and East Lawrence Street. The spot was renamed Ariella Way in honor of the memory of Ariella Hopkins who died at the age of six after a sudden illness. Hopkins had just completed her kindergarten year at East Brunswick's Saint Bartholomew's school. Saturday's ceremony included a performance by the Middlesex County Police and Fire Pipes and Drums as well as a dove release and the unveiling of new playground equipment in the Little Park, which was dedicated to Hopkins shortly after her death. The Little Park was Hopkins' favorite borough park.
"Ariella Way is adjacent to a little park with a playground, where all the neighborhood children can come and play," the Middlesex County Police and Fire Pipes and Drums wrote on the group's Facebook page. "Ariella played here. It is now called Ariella Hopkins Little Park. Ariella was six when she was called home way too soon. We didn't know Ariella but after knowing her from many stories from her friends and family, we feel we know her very well today. For Ariella and her family, we are honored to be Ariella's friends and being a part of her larger than life legacy. To the Hopkins Family, thank you for everything you do for our community, our children, and our world, all in honor of sweet little Ariella."
Hopkins' parents, Lisa and Bobby, set up a scholarship fund at St. Bartholomew in their daughter's name. Fundraisers help to fund the scholarship that is awarded to a kindergarten student. The scholarship is used to assist in tuition payments to the private Catholic school. Last year's recipient was Olivia Bornato. A playground specifically for kindergarteners was also built and dedicated to Hopkins at St. Bartholomew. Previously, kindergarteners did not have a playground of their own.
Milltown hosts Ariellla Hopkins Day in May each spring at American Legion Post 25 on JFK Drive. All of the proceeds from Ariella Hopkins Day go to fund the scholarship along with other charitable events in Hopkins' memory.