MANCHESTER – Food trucks, musical groups, a giant craft fair, carnival games and a senior Olympics were all part of a half century celebration at Leisure Village West.
The recent milestone event also featured performances by several groups in the village. A special parade that included township and county officials, representatives of the LVW Executive Board, township fire trucks, first aid squad and vehicles, and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office kicked off the event.
Anniversary Committee Chairperson Joy Carmody couldn’t have been happier with how everything went. She also served as the organizer of the craft fair that featured a large turnout at Willow Hall following the parade.
Carmody told The Manchester Times after the event that, “our craft fair had 50 vendors and every one of them told me they want to come back and do future events with us because they had such a great time. It was wonderful to see so many happy people.”
“Currently we have about 4,000 residents with 2,962 homes on an 825-acre site. We have approximately 60 clubs and groups,” Carmody added.
Among those groups was the LVW Westernaires who sang the Star-Spangled Banner early in the day. Group member Mary Ann Earlan said, “we were the second club that was started. We formed in 1974 and we sing together several times a year – that was, until COVID – but we are coming back.”
“We were about 40 members strong at one point, now we are down to 28. We have some men as members too,” fellow member Nancy Krahn said.
Chuck Lupo, the president of the LVW Board of Trustees, welcomed everyone outside the front of Willow Hall and introduced Mayor Robert Hudak who read a proclamation on behalf of the township.
“I’d like to thank every volunteer who had anything to do with this and a special shout out to all the Anniversary Committee volunteers,” Lupo added. “Today marks the 50th anniversary of Leisure Village West and today we have a number of events, exhibitions, demonstrations that are scheduled today all throughout the village.”
Mayor Hudak said, “I feel very honored to be here today. Leisure Village West was established in 1972 as an age restricted condominium association and built in phases and completed in 1993. I wish to celebrate and congratulate the 50th anniversary of Leisure Village West. Congratulations.”
The Senior Olympics featured a torch passing ceremony before it began with Rose Marie Nappa, 87, who has lived at LVW for 27 years, walking in a circle to pass a paper torch to the next oldest senior resident. “I feel this is the best place to be,” Nappa said concerning living in LVW.
There were games like the “Fastest Opener in LVW” (opening bottles and packages), “Wet T Shirt Contest” (passing water balloons), and a “Shake It Up Contest” (how many times a person can shake their hands in a given period of time). A popular event was “Pantyhose Bowling” which had participants wearing pantyhose on their heads with tennis balls in the legs. You had to use (without your hands) the tennis balls to knock down a line of water bottles as quickly as you could. There was also a trivia contest as part of the event.
The winner of pantyhose bowling was Sandy Falcone who has lived in LVW for two years. She faced some strong competition from her friend Pat Kologe who is a 14-year resident of LVW.
The senior Olympics ran for several hours concluding at 4 p.m. with everyone receiving a prize. They were coordinated by LVW members Mary Lou Doner who has lived in LVW for a decade and Linda Lobita who has been a resident for 17 years.
Other activities included a synchronous water dancing performance in the Encore Clubhouse pool, a musical performance by the Happy Days String Band who performed traditional mummers’ music while over at Willow Hall you could enjoy the sounds of the Beatles, Elvis, and other performers of the 50s, 60s and 70s.
Attendees enjoyed several amusement games like Plinko and there was face painting for children, a special photo area and demonstrations of the OC Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit held.
Food trucks featured Puerto Rican and Caribbean cuisine and Nathan’s Hot Dogs at the Encore Clubhouse while a truck specializing in cool dessert treats was present at the Willow Hall clubhouse
Capturing many memorable moments of the event were Michael Blank, the director and broadcaster of KLVW, the village’s own television station. He was joined by Riccardo Garcia, a camera operator/broadcaster and former soap opera star from Telemundo and camera man Bill Johnson.
“We’ve been around for years and now we have some new equipment. We’ll be adding more programming. We have new sports show that we’ll be launching this fall,” Blank said.
A shuttle bus service provided transport throughout the day for residents to enjoy activities at both locations. Many attendees also enjoyed the pools at the club houses to beat the heat of the 90-degree weather.