WEST ORANGE, NJ — Students, parents and several Gregory Elementary School teachers attended Saturday's 81st annual Strawberry Festival.

According to PTA volunteer Laura Olson, the strawberry festival is a beloved Gregory School tradition and is one of the teachers' favorite times of the year. 

“They’re helping out with food and seeing the kids, getting out the classroom which they love to do,” said Olson.

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The iconic event has drawn the community and entertained families for more than 80 years, generating community spirit and more than a few happy faces. Gregory PTA President Skye Monahan explained that although the annual tradition began in 1938, many remain unsure as to how why it started.

“We have not discovered any written documentation as to why,” said Monahan. “However, we assume it’s due to the season because it’s always been held around June/July, and that’s the season of strawberries.”

Guests of the festival purchased baskets of strawberries and also took advantage of the other activities available, including the inflatable rides, fake tattoos, face painting, music and a 50/50 raffle for either an American Girl doll or a “Ring” doorbell.

“This year we featured three Inflatable rides, which included a water slide, and one Euro Jumper,” said Monahan. “The water slide and Euro Jumper are always a big hit with the kids.”

Troy Gurkan, a fourth grader at Gregory School, was among the many kids who enjoyed the bungee jump.

“You wait in line for a while, but you won’t regret it,” said Gurkan.

With the school year winding down for West Orange, students and teachers have a lot to deal with, such as exams, final projects and clearing everything out for the summer. Monahan noted that that it was “lovely to watch our community come together and take a fun break from their typically busy lives.”

Joshua Baker is a former West Orange High School student working with the TAPinto West Orange internship program.