SPRINGFIELD, NJ — For residents in town, Junior Peixoto's name might not immediately ring a bell.
But for the past month and change, the local resident and maintenance director at a senior living facility in the area has been catching the eye of people in Springfield with his one-of-a-kind electric skateboard and muppet-like helmet, a character he affectionately calls Samual.
Peixoto moved to Springfield in middle school, graduating in 2002 from Jonathan Dayton high School. He now resides in town with his fiancé Angela and dog Madison. As he noted, the township and its residents have been exceptionally friendly towards him.
“Everyone’s really friendly, very accepting, he said. "I’ve been here on the same street all my life, so it’s funny seeing how Springfield has developed. Especially seeing Dayton, how much it’s changed […] It’s really amazing seeing Springfield growing.”
Having held his current career position for eight months at the time of the interview, he was fresh on the job when the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up earlier this year. Senior living facilities and nursing homes have been hit hard across the state, but he said that the team he works with has done a fantastic job keeping his residents safe.
“It’s been trying, but we’ve been doing great," Peixoto said. "I absolutely have an amazing team, and we’ve been striving, surviving. Keep washing our hands and keep everything sanitized. That’s the only thing that keep everyone safe, and thank God we’ve been really good.”
As for his hobby off the clock, Peixoto said that readers might be surprised to learn that he only got into long boarding about a year and a half ago, when it was a matter of convenience and transportation for him.
"I was looking for an outlet to kind of just let go and pretty much commute," he said. "At that point I was working pretty close in town. So for me to get around town, it was great. And then I got involved in the community […] a lot of great people, and it’s fun just being able to kick around town.”
And his iconic Samual helmet, the one that has garnered all the attention, Peixoto revealed that the helmet and cover ar actually two separate pieces.
“It’s actually a regular motorcycle helmet," he said. "People don’t understand, it’s just a regular motorcycle helmet with a funky kind of cover on it. I wanted something kind of fun, because I usually wear peanut helmets, they’re just regular bicycle helmets. But I wanted something that was a little bit more protective and a little fun. I didn’t think it was going to be as popular as it was.”
When Peixoto wears the helmet, he explained that it allows him to inhabit the character of Samual, and be more of his authentic, goofy and fun-loving self.
“I can actually be myself in this thing," Peixoto said. "They’ll probably catch me doing the macarena at a stoplight or I’ll sit there and I’ll fix my [helmet’s] hair in someone’s mirror. It’s just for fun.
"When I’m under here, it just makes me feel like I’m someone else, and I can dance and be silly and have fun. I really love seeing kids. I usually try to get real low on the board and I’ll give them a peace sign or […] this little swimming motion. But to see people smile and have fun with it, it’s what makes me keep bringing this helmet out.”
Overall, Peixoto said that he loves the pictures taken, as well waves and smiles he gets, since it lets him interact with the community and spread positive energy.
“For me to do this for my community, and for them have fun while I’m out there, and me having fun at the same time, that’s my number one goal," he said. "Right now, we need as many smiles as we can. And that’s why I always say smiles for miles. I get smiles for miles with this helmet.”
“I just hope that everyone really enjoys it," Peixoto added. "For me, I really enjoy doing it, so when I see people taking pictures, it really brings a lot of joy to my heart.”
To see more of Peixoto's exploits, visit his instagram page here: https://www.instagram.com/nj_electric_skateboarding/