NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ- Saturday night, Lieder Field at New Providence High School was jam-packed with hundreds of students and parents playing sports, eating, schmoozing and getting to know one another as they attended the sixth annual New Providence Athletic Foundation’s “New Providence Night Out.”
The New Providence Athletic Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 charity, which supports and funds the community’s athletic facilities at Lieder Field. The event raised money for the ongoing turf field project at the high school, including the new addition of lights to the facility and will help the Foundation pay off the remaining Lieder Field renovation debt that provided $1million in improvements without taxpayer impact.
However, unlike events in the past that were geared towards adults, this one included children, as well. The fundraiser was organized by a committee of 10 hard working individuals who volunteered their time to help make it a successful and fun night.
“We just thought we would just try to make this more of a family oriented event,” said committee member Jim Madden.
Madden said the majority of the credit goes to Allison Smith. She came up with the great idea to include children, he said.
“Allison Smith is a phenomenal person,” he said. “She’s got a posse. We call it Allison’s army.”
Smith, who was quite humble when speaking to TheAlternativePress.com, said after months of planning, it was nice to see their efforts come to fruition. It was a great way to welcome families into the community and meet new ones as well, she said. Besides having a fun Saturday night, it allowed youngsters to experience the amazing football field that the high school students use every day, Smith added.
“We decided that because it’s a family-centered town that we wanted to create something that the kids could come to, that everybody could see the field and see why it has so much value to the community,” Smith said.
Fellow foundation members, Bill Harvey and Alan Lesnewich, were excited, as well. Harvey explained they were trying to develop an event that could appeal to the whole community, and what else is better than free food, sports and people hanging out, he said.
“The goal is to raise as much money as we can, so that the kids can have fun,” Lesnewich said. He added it was probably much cheaper to attend the event than paying for a babysitter.
Joe Pergola, who was attending the fundraiser for the first time with his 7-year-old daughter Lilly, said they were having a blast. He heard about the event through her soccer league, which cancelled their games Saturday because of the festivities.
“It’s a good time. It’s a great way for me to meet everyone in town,” he said.
Alma Demetropolis, who was enjoying her evening chatting it up with other mothers while their kids played, said it is was a nice night out with her family and she hopes it becomes an annual thing.
“All of our kids love the community and play sports, so it’s a great thing to help each other out and support the organization,” Demetropolis said.
The event, which was held from 5-9 p.m., featured free sports and field game for kids ages 3-18, raffles and a specialty food item prepared by Wade Burch, CEC, and winner of The Food Network’s “Chopped.” Some of the games held included the Micro League Soccer season opener for first and second graders, an NFL-style football combine sponsored by the Police Athletic League, lacrosse hard shot competition, an athletic demonstration by Gabriele Fitness and the inaugural “Pioneer Cup” running race competition among boys and girls in grades K-6.