WHITING – It was a perfect autumn day for a flea market. Visitors and residents of Crestwood Village IV in Manchester Township’s Whiting section came out in droves to browse, find that special treasure and just say hi to their neighbors.
The senior community has hosted monthly flea markets throughout the year at their club house parking lot. They feature refreshments such as coffee, tea, baked goods and as many as 15 vendors have been known to show off their wares which range from crafts, jewelry, toys, DVDs, books, clothes and a variety of other items.
A few hundred people may have come out to this month’s flea market which might be the last until spring according to the market’s coordinator Joann McKeon. “It is just so nice to get out.”
“At our normal flea market, we have 52 vendors because we would normally have it inside the club house as well as outside,” she added.
The trustees of Crestwood Village IV host the flea market and shoppers and vendors were sporting protective masks and observing social distancing per the guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I organize it but we have between 10 or 12 people who help out and volunteer,” McKeon said.
She added that Crestwood Village IV keeps busy and has been active throughout the pandemic in the ways it could. For example, there is a fitness club on Monday and Friday, Elizabeth Hallar said. Hallar works to bring awareness of those activities to residents and the public.
“We are doing a corn hole event on Thursday night and are president ordered pickle ball stuff which came but we haven’t set it up yet so we will have pickle ball,” Hallar added.
“We’ve arranged for outdoor meetings. According to our bylaws we have to hold two meetings during the year and we did them both outside. We are doing a meet the candidates (for offices in Crestwood Village) with a different format. We are doing it in person. We are having people coming in groups of 10. We can only allow 25 people maximum in our hall,” McKeon said.
McKeon said, “we are going to have our candidates up front and instead of doing their two-minute spiel they will have it on paper in a packet while the people are waiting in line. They will read what the speeches will be so they don’t waste time and they will bring those 10 people in to ask their questions and then another 10 people will come in.”
“It is a huge thing,” Hallar said noting the board races this year were very interesting. It was noted that cards and games is also part of the Village’s Monday night activities plus an internet café which is almost ready to start.
“People from the other (Crestwood) villages say to us how come you guys can do things and we can’t and we tell them get after your trustees and get out of the cage,” Hallar said.
“We pride ourselves in that we didn’t lay off one staff person. We didn’t reduce any salaries. We reduced ours and we issued people laptops so they could work remotely if they chose to. We had reduced hours but they overlapped. We just did things differently,” McKeon said.
“The mayor told us whatever you guys are doing keep it going. We should use you as a model,” McKeon said. “We social distance and we set up everything in the hall and everyone else has to wait in the lobby. We kept it going. We worked hard to keep the village open.”
Within the Crestwood Village IV tent which featured the village’s concession of coffee, tea bagels and baked goods was a pair of seeing eye dogs who sat beside McKeon. “I’m a puppy raiser for the seeing eye organization. This is my fourth. These are my grand puppies I raised their mom and dad.”
She added, “the trustees voted to allow me to bring them into the clubhouse while I am here working. They sit under the desk and they know how to behave. You get to teach between seven weeks to 16 months to teach them basic obedience, house manners and socialization.”
“Things like how they act when they go into a restaurant and after 16 months, they go back to the seeing eye group and they put them in the harness and teach them the guide work and they match them up with a blind person and it is a perfect match. It is a lot of fun but a lot of work and all volunteer,” McKeon said.