DENVILLE, NJ-- Amid the rainy weather, the 35th Annual Rotary Club Street Festival was under way, taking over Broadway as it always does during the first Sunday in June. The celebration is held annually to promote goodwill within the community as well as showcase the service projects for which the club is widely known.
Many local and state dignataries attended the event. Denville Mayor Tom Andes strolled Broadway with his family, while Superintendent of Denville Schools Steve Forte was seen enjoying the dining options available at the festival. Even Denville Police Chief Christopher Wagner made an appearance for the lemonade.
"Despite the rain, the people who attended today's Rotary Street festival had a very enjoyable afternoon. The food was great, the music was wonderful and it was good to see so many die hard people from Denville supporting the Denville Rotary Club," Andes said.
The street fair included a diverse set of vendors, from clothes to food. There were children's rides and cotton candy for families that happened to stop by, as well as different foods ranging from gyros to hot dogs. The street festival would not be complete without the Rotary beer garden, which was up and running, despite the gloomy weather.
Throughout the family friendly festival, kids could be found participating in martial arts demonstrations, spinning wheels for prizes, enjoying fried dough, munching on cotton candy, and making sand art. For adults, the shopping from different vendors and entering giveaways were popular. Many adults also found their way to the beer tent. Though the kiddie rides never ran, many families enjoyed the day despite the rain.
"I've lived in Denville for seven years, we love the people and the community aspect of this town. The Rotary Street Festival is always a fun event, where we can see what our Denville neighbors are doing," Kristy Dagostino said.
The Rotary Club does such things as provide scholarships for students, community service work, and bringing people together.
"Rotary is like a family and we all pull together," Joseph Paci, a Co-Chairman of the gathering and past club president said.
The Rotary Club tries to fund and build community projects. Last year, under the leadership of President Don Denneau, the club created a charging station for electric cars. One of the reasons being that it was good for the environment, as well as a courtesy to people who shop in Denville's popular downtown area.
"The Rotary Club is the largest service organization. It contains more than one million people around the world," Rick Rafferty, Assistant Governor of the Morris Rotary District, said about Rotary's overall size.
One example of their global reach, is the fight against polio. Since 1987, the Rotary Club has raised $1 billion dollars and because of its efforts to increase worldwide vaccination, has helped lower the number of reported polio cases to ten.
"I'm very happy to be a Rotarian," said Rafferty.
The setup for the festival happened as early as Saturday evening. On the day of the festival, members of the club came to aid in the festival as early as 4:30 a.m.
"Everybody in the entire Rotary Club is being put to work," said Mike Bouday, Rotary Co-Chairman.
Provident Bank is a big supporter of the Rotary Street Festival, participating consecutively over the last five years. Many of the vendors come from far and wide to participate in the Street Festival.
"It's a great event for the town of Denville," Bob Rocco, Provident Bank's Vice President of Marketing said.
The relationship between the organizations that line the streets and Denville's populace is on beneficial terms.
"The people are very loyal to us." Rooco said, citing Denville's support.
The threat of rain continued on throughout the festival, crowds slowly coming as the weather let up, but the Rotary kept the public informed as to any incoming weather issues. As of 4:00 p.m., the Rotary decided to suspend the remainder of the fair due to the incoming thunderstorms and threat of winds.
The 36th Annual Street Festival is scheduled for Sunday, June 4, 2017.