LAKE COMO, NJ — For several hours each Wednesday morning, the council chambers in Lake Como Borough Hall transforms into a place for playtime. It’s the time for “Mommy and Me,” a casual get-together where children up to 3 years old bring their moms — or anyone who cares for them — to enjoy some fun and games.

The free program began nearly two years ago when Borough Councilwoman Hawley Scull was looking for daytime activities for her young children. “The room inside Borough Hall was not in use on Wednesday mornings, so I figured why not utilize it as a gathering spot for kids to play and interact, and for parents or caregivers to make new friends,” she said.

Since then, the weekly playdate has attracts as many as 12 caregivers and their babies and toddlers at one time. “We’ve had several dads, grandmas and babysitters attend, along with moms. It’s an easy, free activity for anyone looking to do something fun and social.”

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The group, which is open to residents and nonresidents, keeps in contact by Facebook and meets the entire year. It has organized several special activities, including participation in this month’s observance of Paint the Town Pink, sponsored by Hackensack Meridian Health. Every week this month, the children have engaged in something “pink” — from hand-painting and story time, to a safari and egg hunt.

The group also has taken field trips to such places as Barlow’s pumpkin patch in Sea Girt and a private paint, paste and pour class, and it even was paid a visit from police officers explaining New Jersey's new safety car seat law and inspecting caregivers’ car seats.

Scull said that neighbors have generously donated gently used toys to the group, and the borough has also been quite welcoming — the Department of Public Works sets up the room weekly and the Lake Como office staff  “tolerates our noisy group!” (Editor’s note: Most of them are moms or grandmoms, or both, so the pleasure is theirs.)

“It’s been a wonderful experience, and I believe many friendships have been made, between both parents and children,” Scull said, pointing out that the group started out as all toddlers. “And now many of those toddlers have baby siblings, so it is like a second generation of the 'Mommy and Me' group.”

For more information, call Lake Como Borough Hall at 732-681-3232.

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