LACEY – It wasn’t just any Lacey Day but a Lacey Day held on the 150th anniversary year of the township which made it just a bit more special.
Beautiful weather made the event picture perfect and allowed for a myriad of township organizations such as its fire companies, first aid squads and others to showcase their services. It also gave them a chance to recruit more members.
For one young man, Nick Debenedetto, Lacey Day was one more opportunity to do something special for the community. Nick’s Lemonade stand provided fresh squeezed lemonade with some additional special flavors like blueberry and peach.
His mother, Silvania Debenedetto said, “my son loves doing fundraisers for the community and it was his idea starting in 2020. He donated money to the volunteers at the firehouses. This is our first-time doing Lacey Day.”
“We usually do the lemonade stand for the local firehouse. So far it has been very successful. It is all homemade and fresh and all the money today will be donated to Popcorn Park Zoo,” she said. Silvania’s daughter Jennifer Marqus, came later in the day bringing home baked cookies for purchase at the stand.
Nick, 13, had prior fundraising efforts recognized in May by Mayor Peter Curatolo and the Township Committee when he raised funds for the Lanoka Harbor Fire Department and Lanoka Harbor EMS.
Nick also supported the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department and Lacey Police Department. “They came to his stand to say thank you but we ran out of lemonade when they came,” his mother said with a chuckle. “My heart was broken because it was a rainy day and we didn’t think anyone was going to come and everyone showed up. Today we have enough.”
Nick said that most organizations send out a letter in the mail asking for donations “and I remembered I had a lemonade stand so I thought let’s do a lemonade stand and give all the money to them.”
Over at the Lacey Food Bank table, materials were being given out to promote food drives and gain some new volunteers. The Food Bank based in the Forked River section of the township operates six days a week and assists 150 families according to Stores Master Dick Sansone.
“We’re still doing the drive-thru. Instead of them coming into the building for the food we have them drive through in their cars,” said Lacey Food Bank Co-Chairman Harold Peters.
Sansone praised the efforts of fellow volunteer Joanne Kurz. “What she has done there is amazing. She reorganized it and put the woman’s touch on the place. She has these racks on wheels and we just roll them out and we say ‘do you want this? Do you want that?’ and they don’t leave their car.”
It didn’t take 11-year-old Scout Troop 61 member Sean Boyd long to get dripping wet during his stint in the troop’s dunk tank. He didn’t mind the drenching. “I knew it was going to happen,” the scout said as he spotted a fast pitcher approach the attraction.
Mayor Curatolo couldn’t have been more pleased by the fun atmosphere of the day. “This reminds you why Lacey is such a great place to live, work and enjoy recreation. We have every age group. We have every demographic. The grass is greener than ever and the sky is bluer than you can imagine and we will have a wonderful day today.”
“Our Historic Society has some apple pie tasting and we also have a professional wrestling demonstration so we have very broad participation including a classical pianist – a prodigy from our town. It is going to be a great day,” the mayor added.
Recreation Department Director Jim Wioland said, “we’re just glad to get together with friends and family that we haven’t seen in a while. We’ve had some events this spring and summer but this is our first big event back in the last 18 months. We are just glad to see so many people come out and be a part of it.”
“We have live music and we added food trucks this year to provide a different experience for people. There is a lot of things for kids to do. We have a couple things left for the Lacey 150 as we welcome our fall season,” Wioland added.
He noted that in November “we have a town wide Thanksgiving celebration and we’ll be setting up little parties in each of our parks so people can come and bring some food on November 13 and we’ll have fun games for families to play together. It offers a chance to reconnect with neighbors and celebrate all the things we are grateful for.”