BARNEGAT, NJ - There are a few things you should know about Barnegat's Hampton Ridge Estates. Some homes in the community are working on their second generation of Barnegat natives. Additionally, there's a real sense of neighborhood within the traditional sense. In fact, a large group of school-aged children now start their days with a novel ritual. Their focus is all about American patriotism.
"One of my neighbors, Daria Mammen gets credit for the idea," shared Jennifer Saropoulous. "She suggested that we should keep the routine our kids follow when they're in school as far as saluting the flag."
The concept caught fire. No one knows which children will show up for the weekday morning pledge. Some of the regulars include Aiden and Noah Saropoulous. Aiden is 12 and in the sixth grade; Noah is 10 and in the fourth grade. Joey and Jax Manmen are also frequent participants. Joey is 7 and in second grade, and Jax is in kindergarten. Twelve year old sixth grader Ryan Geddes and ten year old Savannah D'Agostino also make it out for the morning salute.
On occasion, other neighborhood kids show up to join the group, including Zachary and Abby Geddes. Zachary is 10 and in the fourth grade, and his younger sister, Abby is 8 and in the second grade. No one needs to dress up for the occasion, which means pajamas are perfectly acceptable for the driveway pledge to the flag.
The children each hold individual flags. Parents take part in the morning event. In fact, at least one grandfather makes it a point to put his hand over heart to show his allegiance to America.
"We've been doing this since the children have been home from school," Saropoulous shared. "It's an informal gathering that brings everyone together."