JACKSON – It was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and after months of planning this year, Jackson Day returned with large crowds gathering in Johnson Memorial Park.
It kicked off with a parade which honored first responders. Parade participants included a fleet of EMS vehicles, new and old township fire trucks and police cars. Members of the Jackson American Legion Post carried the American flag.
Local resident Marty Cohen probably had the best spot to watch it – the corner of Manhattan and South Cooksbridge roads. He was joined by friends and family – Jan Rubino, Valerie Aperawie, Tara Trimarche and her 13-year-old son Anthony “AJ”.
This year Marty wasn’t walking in the parade but was enjoying watching it instead. “My dad is with the Jackson American Legion and will be marching in the parade,” Trimarche said.
Jackson Recreation Coordinator Joeylynn Anderson took credit for the fine weather. “Absolutely, that’s all me,” she joked. She noted that the opening ceremony would be kicked off by Audra Zammit singing the national anthem and Shea East singing God Bless America – both Jackson Township students.
“Thank you so much for being here for Jackson Day 2021,” Business Administrator Terence Wall said, welcoming the crowd. He thanked Audra and Shea for their singing adding, “when I think of Jackson Township I think about the United States of America because that is what Jackson Township stands for. I want to thank the Jackson Day Committee for all their hard work and the Jackson Public Works and Recreation departments and of course Jackson Township’s finest, our police, our fire and our first aid. Let the festivities begin.”
Wall was joined on stage by Mayor Michael Reina and Councilmen Steve Chisholm and Nino Borrelli. Councilman Martin Flemming was also present at the event. The mayor told The Jackson Times that he was pleased with the fantastic weather and turnout and that this was a day for the public and not for politics which is why Wall gave the welcome for the event.
“This a blessing for Jackson Township and we can use one,” the mayor added. He noted that another fall tradition in the form of the Wounded Warrior parade that pays tribute to veterans, and in particular those veterans who were injured during their service would be held on October 9 at 9:30 a.m. That event will be held near the Township Police Department and the Jackson branch of the Ocean County Library.
Jackson Police Capt. John Convery joined some fellow officers in running a children’s game during the event. “This is a nice community relations event that we call a safety talk. The kids come up and we ask them a safety question. If they get it right, they get a toss and they get a prize. It is that simple.”
“It is a bit of community outreach and it gives us a chance to meet their parents. It shows that we are approachable. We have one of our SROs (School Resource Officer) here so a lot of the kids know him already.”
A variety of vendors and township-based organizations showcased their products and services within the park. The event also featured various musical groups starting with Total Soul from New York City, featuring singers and front-line choreography and mixed four-part vocal harmony. The award-winning Uptown Band also performed and Legendary DJ followed them.
Children’s rides, a game truck, a climbing wall, inflatable attractions, a petting zoo and pony rides kept the younger set entertained and there were plenty of food vendors present with a variety of appetizing offerings. The Jackson Memorial High School Wrestling team sold tacos as a fundraiser.
Craft and flea market vendors were present and you could touch a truck, enjoy a car show and take a sip at the Beer Garden all based within the park.
Performers included a balloon animal artist and a unicycle/hula hooper and township fire fighters provided a live fire demonstration called “Close Before You Doze” early in the day.
There were several tables that allowed for Jackson Board of Education candidates to provide literature as well as for state and gubernatorial candidates to showcase their campaigns.