SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The chance of thunderstorms did not deter residents from South Plainfield and the surrounding communities from coming out on Saturday in support of good food and a good cause. 

Approximately 1,700 people gathered at John E. Riley Elementary School on June 2 for the PTSOs first-ever Food Truck Festival. The daylong family-friendly event celebrated the school’s 50th anniversary as well as raised money to help purchase new playground equipment. 

“We brought a community together and it was a perfect day. There was no rain on our parade,” said Laine Marabella, the event organizer and incoming secretary of the Riley PTSO, adding that approximately $12,000 was raised with all proceeds going to fund a new playground. 

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“When we originally began planning the event, we wanted to hold a party to celebrate the school’s 50th anniversary but, then, somewhere along the way, the playground [equipment] broke,” said Marabella. “The PTSO saw this outlet as a perfect opportunity to help raise the $80,000 needed to replace the broken structure.”

Riley’s Food Truck Festival, which received sponsorship from close to two dozen local businesses, featured a line up comprised of a dozen trucks, along with a beer tent, a vendors fair, music, games and free activities for children, a classic car show, and a 50/50 raffle. 

There were close to 30 vendors on hand selling a variety of wares and a dozen food trucks, including Cedar Creek Cooking Co., Daisy’s Taste of Cuba, Cupcake Carnivale, Asian Street Bistro, Johnny’s Pork Roll, Little Nicky’s, Dags Dippers, Churroland, Shark Bait, Zinna’s Eatz, Maglione’s Italian Ice, and the Zeppole Guys. Kids activities included face painting, beanbag toss, and tattoos as well as a portable racetrack and there was musical entertainment provided throughout the day by Riley parent Everett Lippel and the band Worlds Collide. 

According to Marabella, the event would not have been a success without the support of its organizers, especially current PTSO treasurer Mary Everitt, as well as all who participated, and all those who attended. 

“Thank you to all who helped organize and local sponsors and everyone who supported us,” said Marabella. “The Riley PTSO would like to thank all the people who came out to support our school in its efforts to build a new playground. We are humbled by your generosity and can’t wait to start planning for next year.”

To help raise money for a new playground, the Riley PTSO has also set up a fundraising page at https://www.mightycause.com/story/Rileyplaygroundfund