SUMMIT, NJ - Meander, stroll, saunter and amble.  Bop, boogie, bump and dance.  Residents from Summit and surrounding communities took the “Walk the Town Friday” directive to heart and ventured to downtown Summit Friday evening for the community event, sponsored by participating Summit merchants, local organizations and the city of Summit.

The week leading up to the event was marked with 90-plus degree stifling weather, high winds and mugginess, but the evening was cool and pleasant, enticing locals to come out and enjoy  all Summit had to offer, from discounts at stores like Beadluxe, Badawang Art and Anspach of Summit, to restaurant specials at Winberies and Dabbawalla and free chair massages at the new Atlantic Health Overlook Community storefront.  To start summer off right, Lois Schneider Realtors offered free beach balls and sunscreen.  Saimona Wine & Liquor had a free wine tasting. 

Sounds of funk, jazz and rock n’ roll filled the air as Summit High School students from Phat Back took the stage, in the Beechwood and Bank Street parking lot.  The crowd was soon energized by Night of the Living Funk, playing modern jazz and the Amp’d Rock & Roll band with Paul Fessock.   The Summit High School brass and woodwind quintets and flute ensemble entertained at the Promenade on Springfield Avenue. 

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Too noisy?  Some headed over to Summit Hearing Center for free hearing screenings and information about ear protection for musicians, motorcyclists and lawn mowers. 

A stroll through the downtown was spotted with color.  Local businesses sported the new, bold and graphic “Think Local First” poster in their storefronts, giving the downtown a unified feel. The evening was part of the “Think Local First” campaign, a city-wide initiative to generate business for downtown merchants, funded by a SUSTAINABLE JERSEY ™ small grant with support from Wal-Mart.

“A better tomorrow, one community at a time,” is the SUSTAINABLE JERSEY™ motto.  Click here for a detailed report of Summit’s sustainability, an in-progress application.  SUSTAINABLE JERSEY ™ is a certification program for  municipalities in New Jersey that want to go green, save money, and take steps to sustain their quality of life over the long term.

“Walk the Town Friday” was one of the highlights of the campaign.  Amy Cairns Harrison chairs Summit’s Environmental Commission.  In a statement, she said, "Local businesses are integral to growing a socially, environmentally and economically sustainable City of Summit.  A vibrant downtown raises our standing among other NJ communities, helps maintain our property values, and encourages a lower overall community carbon footprint if people shop local rather than drive distances for their purchases.  While it may not be entirely possible to buy everything you need from locally owned businesses, if everyone purchased one or two more items locally when they shopped, the effects would be tremendously beneficial."

Annette Dwyer, chair of Shaping Summit Together, said, “"It is vital to Summit that people come out for this event. The business owners and organizing groups have made tremendous strides this year to make Summit a "happen' place!"  The mission of Shaping Summit Together, an assembly of organizations and individuals volunteering to help Summit reach its full potential, is to maximize Summit as a mature diverse suburban community.  “Our efforts are completely supported by an event such as this,” she said.

Emilie Rowan, director of integrative medicine at Atlantic Healthy Lifestyles at Overlook Downtown, which just Friday afternoon had its ribbon cutting ceremony for the new center for health and wellness at 357 Springfield Avenue, said, “We are excited to be in downtown Summit where we can support the community and move toward living a healthy life.”  For this event, they offered free massage therapy, reflexology and Jin Shin Jyutsu as well as healthy snacks.