JACKSON – Members of the Plunkett family were seated under a food tent table beside a large plate of butterfly potatoes dripping with melted cheese. It was just one of the many treats you could acquire from one of several food trucks parked at Johnson Memorial Park.
The Food Trucks and Fireworks event drew a large crowd seeking to have some fun and beat the heat. You could cool off with a large lemonade or ice cream cone, or enjoy a meal from any of the food trucks while listening to the varied tunes of Shorty Long and the Jersey Horns.
Carrying an umbrella to protect her from the sun was Sandy Levine who joined her friend Jack Dear. Both are from Monroe Township and attended an event prior to venturing over to Jackson Township. They were enjoying the day and were on line for something to eat.
“Mercer County had a festival kind of thing earlier today so we went there first,” Levine said.
“It is still going on. It had food trucks there, too, but I have to say that while there is a lot more food over there, the food trucks here are better. There is a lot more variety,” Dear said.
Jackson’s event offered up vendors with names like Thai Food, Fit Chicks, Jerzey Eatz, Pink Lemonade, Funnel CakeCousins, Main Lobster, Five Sisters and Relish the Dog.
“It is just great to be out again walking,” Levine said. Dear said he was looking forward to trying some lobster later in the day.
Jesse Kalapos, Joe and Shannon Plunkett and their daughter were all happy to be at the event as well. “We’ve lived in Jackson since the 1960s. We’re glad to be out here today,” Kalapos said.
The public event was sponsored by the Jackson Township and New Jersey Clean Communities that provided a lot of free items to familiarize residents and non-residents about what the group does. The activities included dancing, free giveaways, free admission and plenty of pyrotechnics at the conclusion of the event.
Present at the event were members of the Jackson Recycling which falls under the Township’s Department of Public Works. Recycling Coordinator Irina Darrar was busy speaking with people about recycling and giving out mugs, stickers and other items to remind people about the importance of recycling at home and elsewhere.
Darrar said, “I took over this position in September 2020. We are launching a new app that will help our residents receive information and if there are any changes that come up. We are giving out recycling schedules and stickers and coffee mugs, children’s sunglasses and umbrellas. We are strongly supported by the administration.”
Nearby at the Clean Communities table was Recreation Director Joey Lyn Anderson and members of the Clean Communities committee including Constance Sidon and Kathy Sevcentko. In 2019, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) awarded $21.5 million in annual Clean Communities grants to help municipalities and counties conduct litter cleanups that improve the quality of life for residents of the state.
Sidon said Clean Communities provides “awareness of the importance of keeping your roads and streets and waterways clean. We run programs all year long where the kids go out and there are mini grants for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts any 501(c)3 can apply for a $500 grant to clean up a miles worth of the roadway of litter and debris. It is great for their cause it is great for our cause.”
The nonprofit New Jersey Clean Communities Council administrates the reporting requirements for the program. Howell and Jackson townships received the largest grants in New Jersey in 2019 with Jackson receiving $119,496.
Andersen said this was one of the first live events since last December when the township held its Christmas Tree and Menorah lighting events in front of the township municipal building. “People are happy to be out and about again.”
She noted that Jackson Day would be returning in October at the same location as this event. “We’ll also have the Tree Lighting and Menorah lighting again and all of our same events.”