LIVINGSTON, NJ — Livingston’s Youth Appreciation Week (YAW) concluded on Saturday with 12 hours of activities for all ages at the 24th annual Family Fun Festival. The sunny weather inspired hundreds of families to visit Livingston’s Memorial Oval, where tents and vibrantly colored bouncy structures offered games and activities for everyone to enjoy. 

“This was the largest turnout that we ever had and everyone, and I mean everyone went home happy,” said YAW event chair Alan Karpas, who is also the president of Healthy Community, Healthy Youth. “That’s why it's called the Family Fun Festival. This was truly a celebration honoring our kids.”

Face painters created works of art on children’s faces while a balloon artist twisted balloons into animals and a DJ set the festive mood with pop music. Children jumped in bouncy structures and slid down blow-up slides, met animals in the petting zoo, played GAGA and YMCA games, engaged in outer space games, rode ponies, made crafts, ran around laughing, ate snacks, completed an obstacle course and found all sorts of ways to amuse themselves. 

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In addition to many tents sponsored by local businesses, several local organizations also occupied tents that included Girl and Boy Scout Troops, trivia with the Livingston Committee for Diversity and Inclusion, a Food Day Tent with healthy nutrition, Livingston Municipal Alliance Committee, Livingston Senior, Youth and Leisure Services (SYLS), child identification and car seat inspections with the Livingston Police Department, Force Homestead Tours, the Livingston Young Families Club, a Livingston Robotics Club (LRC) exhibition and more.

A record number of teams participated in the 10th annual LRC FIRST LEGO League Junior Expo, coverage of which can be found HERE.

The evening concluded with a special outdoor viewing of “The Lego Movie 2” during the annual town-wide camp out and “Movie Under the Stars.” It was 12 hours of amusement that ended with a bunch of happy campers.  
“As another Youth Appreciation Week ends, the consensus is that this was the best one ever,” said Mayor Al Anthony. “It was heavily attended and the activities on Saturday lasted the whole day and everyone had a great time. From the bouncy rides, games, face painting, robotics and petting zoo to the nighttime camp-out and movie, the community came together to celebrate our youth and just have a fun time.”

Anthony thanked YAW committee members Karpas and Martha Ackermann and all of those involved with Livingston’s Senior, Youth and Leisure Services (SYLS) as well as the members of the Livingston police and fire departments, first aid squad and Department of Public Works for making the week possible.  

“The whole week and especially Saturday couldn’t have gone better,” the mayor said.

Events held throughout YAW 2019 began with the annual Kiwanis Karnival and continued with activities like the “Stuff the Bus” food collection for CHOW, a LEGO Building Blocks Workshop, Parents Night Out and more.

YAW sponsors included the Township of Livingston, West Essex YMCA, Regal Bank, St. Barnabas Medical Center, Welamat LLC, Bernico, Schneck Law Group LLC, Dr. Richard Newman DMD, Livingston Family Eyecare, Fanzblau Dratch PC, Dr. Shari Summers DMD, Westminster Hotel, Goldberg Realty Associates, Do Re Mi School of Music & the Arts, Livingston UNICO, PIP Printing, Hamberger Dental Associates, The Silverstrom Group, Global Leaders Academy, Master Pizza, The UPS Store, Jan Press Photo Media, Northfield Pharmacy, Gentle Caring Dentistry, Dr. Michael Zornitzer, Kids at Heart, Bagels-4-U and Pediatric Potentials.