MAPLEWOOD, NJ - People from throughout New Jersey and others from out-of-state who were visiting family locally came to Memorial Park on Thursday to celebrate the Fourth of July.
Maplewood hosted its annual Fourth of July celebration on both the north and south fields of the park. Many of the activities this year were the same as last year, except this year there was no circus. The car show moved to a new location this year along Dunnell Road.
Town DJ James Buttros, who helped organize the event, said the celebration was expected to draw over 10,000 people.
The event included a pet show and parade in the morning, a pancake and waffle decorating contest, performances by a magician, which is new this year, and stuntman who did acrobatic and unusually difficult yoga poses in the afternoon, and live music and the fireworks light show in the evening.
Celebrity chef Jesse Jones did a cooking demonstration with vegetarian Jambalaya and served honey barbeque ribs, which was another new attractiion this year.
"There are a lot of different things for folks," said Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca.
Dina and Michael Basin and their child Taavi of Cliffside Park came to the Maplewood event for the first time because they were looking for a large 4th of July celebration with many activities.
"We enjoyed the fun and entertainment," said Dina Basin.
Brandy and Aaron Wilkins and her family were in Maplewood on the 4th of July visiting family. They came to the Maplewood celebration like many others to enjoy the festivities. Her daughters Alyssa, 4, and Olivia, 8, played wack-a-mole, bingo, a balloon toss game, and another game where they hit wooden frogs into a pond.
"It was nice. They won prizes," said Aaron Wilkins about the games.
Others participated in the car show, which raised money for next year's 4th of July festivities. Car show participants paid $15 to enter their cars into the show if they registered online before July 4 and ohters paid $20 that day to register at the event. Forty cars were entered into this year's show, rasing about $800 for next year's festivities.
"I enjoy the thrill. I'm an adreline junkie," said Mitch Weinberg of Springfield.
Weinberg goes car racing with his son Evan, 18, at Atco in Camden County, New Jersey once or twice a month.
"It's brought us closer together. It's an opportunity for father and son bonding," said Weinberg.
His wife Lori won't go racing but attends car shows like the one in Maplewood with him.
Mark and Nancy Kovacs of Maplewood have been coming to the 4th of July celebration ever since their three children were young. Their three sons Jared, now 21, Hunter, now 19, and Cole, now 16, still enjoy coming to the event and the car show is their favorite part.
The whole family are car afficionados. This year Mark and Nancy entered two of their cars into the show: a Porsche 911 40th anniversary car, and a 1959 Porsche 356 convertible D, which they bought when they were looking for a house 30 years ago and still has its original features.
"Maplewood does the 4th of July well. It's a great event," said Nancy Kovacs.