WEST ORANGE, NJ – Thousands of West Orange residents enjoyed an elaborate firework show, fun activities for the kids and food from the Rotary Snack Bar at the West Orange Recreation Department’s Independence Day Celebration on Wednesday at West Orange High School’s Baseball/Soccer field.
Starting off the day’s activities was the “Fun Zone,” which began at 4:30 p.m. at Lincoln Field. An estimated 750 people enjoyed the many offerings, including the rock wall, wave slide, bounce house, obstacle course, football toss, train rides and more.
Bill Kehoe, director of the recreation department, said it was wonderful to see all the kids having a great time at the “Fun Zone,” which was placed for the first time on the more expansive Lincoln Field.
“It’s one of the better shows in Essex County,” Kehoe said about this year’s fireworks. “Our fireworks display is unique because we shoot some off in the pond behind the high school. This gives you a display with more depth.”
Kehoe thanked the many West Orange officials and departments that helped to make the celebration possible, including Mayor Robert Parisi, the West Orange Township Council, the fire and police departments, the West Orange Department of Public Works, the West Orange Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), the West Orange Board of Education and the West Orange Rotary Club, which sold food and light up necklaces at the event to support funding for student scholarships and community organizations.
“This is one of our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said Jerry Tarnoff, past president of the West Orange Rotary Club. “It helps us give out nearly $19,000 in community awards and $18,500 in student scholarships.”
Tarnoff said the community awards go to many worthy organizations, including Rainbows, which helps kids who have lost loved ones; the West Orange Animal Welfare League; the West Orange Community House; the West Orange Public Library; Camp Merry Hear, which offers a summer camping experience for children with heart conditions; Rotaplast International, which seeks to eliminate the burden of cleft lip and/or palate; Main Street Counseling, which assists the township’s at-risk population; and the West Orange African-American Tutoring Program.
Cynthia Hadley-Bailey, president of the West Orange Rotary Club, estimated that more than $7,000 would be raised at the celebration through the purchase of food and light up necklaces at the Rotary Snack Bar, which was outside the south gym.
“In addition to supporting the community awards and scholarships, we use this money to fund the third-grade dictionary project,” she said. “Every West Orange third-grade student gets a dictionary as part of this project. We also give out backpacks to kids in need at the beginning of the school year.”
Peter Horn, vice president of fundraising for the West Orange Rotary Club, acknowledged the now disbanded West Orange First Aid Squad for providing the Rotary with funds for these projects.
“We had supported the first aid squad in the past, and when they had funds to give out when they disbanded, they gave us a generous donation to help us provide scholarships and support community services,” said Horn.
Before the fireworks show began, DJ Flo—Florence Chirichiello—had the kids on their feet and dancing for more than an hour. They had a great time dancing to new and old songs, as well as doing the limbo. Prizes were given out to the best dancers, as well as to those who participated in the water toss game.
Then everyone sat back and enjoyed the firework show on a clear night after a muggy day.