‘Pared Down’ July 4 Celebration Planned By Township

Township Council members decided to have a smaller version of the annual July 4 celebration this year.

There will still be the rockets’ red glare and “bombs” bursting in air, but little else at the township’s annual July 4 celebration this year.

The removal of state restrictions on outdoor gatherings gave Township Council members the confidence to plan a scaled-down Independence Day celebration, set for July 2, with a rain date of July 9.

As usual, the celebration will be held at the municipal complex on DeMott Lane. But this year, there will be no food trucks, no games or vendors, and live music will be limited to the performance gazebo on the library lawn.

Residents will be encouraged to bring their own food and stake out a spot at the complex on which to picnic and watch the festivities.

The onl;y person who spoke in favor of doing anything more than the fireworks and some music was Township Manager Robert Vornlocker, who supported teh idea of a small number of food trucks.

Vornlocker reasoned that in the past, residents came home from work, gathered their friends and family and came down to the municipal complex for teh event, which starts at around dinner time.

“In the past, there’s been a handful of vendors … there’s been a barbecue or a hamburger, ice cream, drinks …” he said. “That’s the amenities that are normally served at an event like this.”

“I also understand to get an ice cream cone in a crowd of several thousand people at an ice cream truck means you have to stand in line … the reality is right now we stand in line at shop rite to get our groceries,” he said.

“I like the idea of having fireworks and giving folks an opportunity to get out of their houses, and be amongst other people, but I still have some concerns and reticence as we are still trying to get people adequately vaccinated, about doing things like bouncy houses, where people are still congregating,” Councilwoman Crystal Pruitt (D-At Large) said.

Pruitt was the first to suggest a “pared-down type of celebration, maybe without all of the bells and whistles we may have had in previous years.”

“I think we can still do maybe music, have a small concert … I think the gazebo would be the perfect location for it. I’m not a big fan of doing any other activities for the kids,” said Councilwoman Shepa Uddin (D-Ward 2).

Deputy Mayor James Vassanella (D-Ward 5) agreed.

“My feeling is that if we can have a celebration without some of the things that were mentioned, that would be nice, but if we could have it where people could come and watch the fireworks, because that was always the main thing,” he said.

“I think having the fireworks is a wonderful thing, and we should have a scaled-down version,” Councilwoman Kimberly Francois (D-At Large) said.

Councilman Ram Anbarasan (D-At Large) supported the idea of music in the gazebo.

“People are going to come and congregate to watch the fireworks, so I don’t see much difference in having a small music event at the gazebo for everybody’s enjoyment,” he said. “Maybe have a DJ play some music on the other side. I think that would create a good, festive mood for people coming to watch the fireworks.”

“I don’t think we really need anything beyond watching the fireworks,” said Councilman Ted Chase (D-Ward 1). “People will come later, or they can come and bring their own food and they can set themselves up suitably distanced from other people. Could be quite long lines at the food trucks.”

“I think we could encourage people to bring food and non-alcoholic beverages,” Vassanella said. “As long as we have plenty of garbage cans and water, I’d like to see that it’s more of a picnic-type of environment.”

After deciding on the scope of the celebration, the Council approved a $15,900 contract with Schaefer Pyrotechnics to provide the fireworks.

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