SOUTH PLAINFIELD -- Hundreds of people flooded downtown South Plainfield this past Saturday July 30 for South Plainfield’s fourth annual Christmas in July.
South Plainfield Mayor Matthew Anesh said the event “gives the residents a chance to get out and go to a street fair in South Plainfield. They don’t have to go far to see some of what South Plainfield has to offer for small businesses. We hope it keeps going strong, it’s a great day.”
Hosted by the South Plainfield Business Association (SPBA), the South Plainfield Business Advisory Group (BAG) and Scarlett Ryan Consulting, the event took place in downtown South Plainfield on South Plainfield Avenue at the intersection of Front Street.
“I think the most impressive thing about this event is how it’s expanded from year to year,” said Councilman Derryck White. “Last year they had approximately 40 vendors who participated. This year they literally were turning people away. They ended up with I think 80 vendors so the event expands not only to downtown but overlaps into other areas of the community.”
Christmas in July began with breakfast with Santa at the Bagel Pantry located at 134 South Ave. Then the South Plainfield Marching Band led Santa by parade down South Plainfield Avenue to Front Street to kick off the festivities of the street fair.
Food was provided by the South Plainfield Lions Club who grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for the hungry crowds. Fried oreos, zeppoles, popcorn, french fries, cotton candy and other treats were available at the festival while music provided by Magic 98.3 and DJ Randy played all day.
A photo booth was set up to capture the excitement with family and friends. Diesel Trucks were parked close by for residents to visit. There was a Tricky Tray with 75 baskets sponsored by the South Plainfield Band Boosters and performances by South Plainfield’s Summer Drama Workshop. Cory Singer performed and the kids enjoyed the bounce house, crafts, hula hoop contests, treasure hunts and a water balloon toss. Gianna Penyak and the Pender Family won the Annual Christmas themed Window Decorating Contest, which was sponsored by SPCAC who supplied paint and brushes.
There were over 80 businesses who lined the streets and parking lots of downtown South Plainfield. Giving away prizes, coupons, and free samples and highlighting their services, attendees strolled from booth to booth browsing the vast array of jewelry, wreaths, toys, home improvement, soy candles, relaxation products, and much more.
Local business owner Jack Pederson of Jack Pederson Realty said, “It’s great to have the community come together. It’s been getting bigger every year and it’s great to have the support from the mayor and council. Thanks to the Scarlett Marketing Foundation for putting this all together and all the vendors and all the council people for the support. Hope to see everybody again next year.”
SkyZone, one of South Plainfield’s newest additions to local business, had a booth at the event. “It’s been an encouragement working with the South Plainfield SkyZone team,” said Ariel Seufert, Sales Manager with Philly Trampoline Park, the franchise group that owns SkyZone South Plainfield. “We know how much they want to be a part of the SkyZone family and really encourage all of our core values of do good, be healthy, be active. I think them being a part of the Sky family can really bring those values into the South Plainfield community and we want to encourage that. We know that South Plainfield’s awesome and we love being here.”
Tina DeAngelos, marketing manager with Philly Trampoline Park, added, “I think it’s really important to be a part of the community so doing events like this, people can see us, we’re not just a business. I love the interaction with children spinning the wheel and winning prizes. South Plainfield is a great community.”
Also present was the award winning South Plainfield High School Robotics Team. South Plainfield High School Robotics Team member Junior Alona Prokofieva said, “Today we’re reaching out to the community and showing them what we have available for kids coming up to the high school level. We are trying to make more of an impact on the younger kids and show them how to use their maths and sciences, but the only way to do that is to spark and interest and that’s what we’re doing today.”
“We’re a team who incorporates STEM, Science and Technology, Engineering and Mathematics into our school environment because we’re one of the first teams to incorporate all of this knowledge based extracurricular activities,” added South Plainfield High School Senior Ashli Bell from the South Plainfield Robotics Team. “We’re just trying to show everybody what we’re made of. We made it to St. Louis, the World Championship of Robotics and we were able to rank 30th there even though we were only a second year team this year.”
The Second Year Brownies of Troop 65057 also had a booth with supplies for making ornaments. Any child who visited was able to create their own Christmas ornament. Donations were accepted to go towards purchasing supplies for special projects like the Brownies’ Teddy Bear program. The girls sew and stuff teddy bears to be placed in the ambulances and police cars of South Plainfield so if a child is scared, the police officer or rescue squad personnel has a teddy bear to comfort them.
A portion of the funds generated from this year’s Christmas in July will be donated The Scarlett Foundation and used to award a grant to a local business.
Mindy Scarlett Co-Owner of Scarlett Ryan Consulting and Co-Founder of The Scarlett Foundation said, “The Scarlett Foundation is a 501c3. We have two programs. The main program is the Main Street Initiative; basically we are trying to help Main Street businesses stay alive. 95% of Americans work for small business, but 50% of small businesses fail in the first five years. The number one reason is lack of money for marketing so we’re hoping to make a difference in that space. The Scarlett Foundation is one of the sponsors of Christmas in July and part of the proceeds from this event will actually be made as a grant to a small business in South Plainfield.”
Another attraction of the day was the infamous dunk tank. Fair attendees had the chance to toss a ball and dunk local officials, councilmen and others for a good cause.
After being plunged into the dunk tank, Mayor Anesh said, “This year we’re raising money for the South Plainfield EMS, which is a good thing. The dunk tank is probably the most fun part of the day. As long as the weather’s hot, it’s a lot of fun to interact with a lot of the kids in town and as you can imagine, you want to get dunked for a little bit when the sun’s beating on you. But it’s always a fun thing, a good time.”
“It’s a great event,” said event attendee Karen Kelly resident of South Plainfield. “It’s something that gets the town together and gets people out and it’s good.”
Councilman Derrick White added, “This event is a cross section of an opportunity to raise money for charity, have family fun, as well as for vendors to showcase their merchandise.”
And even though the raindrops began to fall mid afternoon and Christmas in July had to end early, the event was a success and plans for next year are in the works.
Kathleen Ryan, Owner of Mason’s BarkYard Treats said, “It’s been really great to be a part of South Plainfield’s day and festival event. It’s been a busy day and I would do it again next year.”
Pastoral Counselor and Author of Tales from the Boulevard Jessi Furino said, “It’s been an incredible day. I want to thank Jill Ryan and everyone who coordinated this event for putting together a wonderful day for the community, bringing everyone together.”
Christmas in July Coordinator and Co-Owner of Scarlett Ryan Consulting Jill Ryan said, “I want to thank everyone who helped in making this event a great success! Sorry we had to end the event early due to the rain.”