ELIZABETH, NJ – Country met city today with hayrides and a petting zoo at the 10th Annual Fifth Ward Cookout and Health Fair at Jefferson Park.

“This is my way of giving back to the community,” said Fifth Ward Councilman William Gallman, Jr. “As an elected official, I feel it is important to give back. I prayed over it, and the idea of a cookout came to me.”

Pointing to Gallman, Jay Davis, a photographer who is a familiar face at city events, said, “This is the kind of person you want to talk to. He is perpetual motion. He stays with the things you give him. Some people talk about it. He is about it.”

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To the hundreds of neighbors attending, it was a great way to enjoy a perfect day in the park. Eileen Urbina and Juan Lino seemed mesmerized by the chicks they held in their hands. “They fall asleep in our arms,” said Urbina. “They are so soft.”

Three-year-old Jahshawn Terry enjoyed his first hayride. “It was fun,” said mom, Juwannah.

Besides the hayrides and petting zoo, children enjoyed pony rides, jumping on inflatables, and ringing the fire engine’s horn.  The Elizabeth Fire Department also demonstrated the jaws of life and brought along the safety house, where they were shown how to get out of a smoke-filled room.

A dee-jay and a live band provided the background music, and there was even an exercise class. There was something for everyone.

Future City, Inc., an environmental and community development organization, The Historical Society of Elizabeth, and Public Health Nurses were among the exhibitors.

So much activity can work up appetite, and there were plenty of hamburgers and hot dogs to go around. After all, what would a cookout be without them?