By Joseph Sapia
MIDDLETOWN – Plate to face and face smeared in pumpkin pie, Nalani Reevey still came up short in a pie-eating contest.
That led to her demand for next time — “Make sure it’s not a pumpkin pie,” said the 6-year-old township resident. “Make sure it’s a cookie.”
But, showing the resilience of a 6-year-old, Nalani and her mother, Bridget Fisher, 34, were off to the trampoline.
“I can do a flip,” said Nalani, demonstrating.
That is the way Middletown Day — held Saturday, Sept. 24, at Croydon Hall on Leonardville Road – was, a variety of things to do. Food, games, vendors of arts and crafts, farm animals, tractor rides and displays by police, firefighters and first-aiders.
“The purpose is for the whole town to come together,” said Mayor Gerard P. Scharfenberger. “It’s one of those big community days to relax.”
“It’s the biggest event we have,” said Township Committeeman Kevin M Settembrino.
The township-run event, which normally attracts 10,000, is paid for by sponsors, so there is no cost to the township, Scharfenberger said. Aside from food and items for sale, “there’s a lot of giveaways,” Scharfenberger said.
“I love the free stuff,” said Peyton LeBourveau, 10, who lives in the township.
“I love jewelry,” Peyton said. “I like the music and food and seeing my friends. I had mozzarella sticks and funnel cake.”
“Every year, we’re here,” said Peyton’s father, William, 42. “It’s a fun day, good food, the kids love the games.”
A fun display for kids was the Port Monmouth Fire Company’s 1947 Ahrens-Fox pumper truck. Kids crawled through the truck, sat in the driver’s seat, rang its bell.
“They look at the modern equipment, but they gravitate to this,” said Fire Capt. Bill Bennett. “I’m surprised the questions I get from young kids. I explain everything works on it.”
The truck “survived two floods and a fire,” said Firefighter Mark Gilash. The firehouse burned in the early 1960s and flooding was from 1960’s Hurricane Donna and 2012’s Superstorm Sandy. In Sandy, the firehouse had 3 feet of water.
Gabby Thomas, 9, of the township was one of the kids climbing through the Ahrens-Fox firetruck.
“We come every year (to Middletown Day),” said Gabby’s mother, Danielle, 35. “My kids get a kick out of seeing all the firetrucks , animals. And it’s a beautiful day.”
A huge, special operations Police vehicle — a military-style “Mine Resistant Ambush Protected” vehicle, or MRAP – caught Rich Ketch’s eye.
“Is there any way I can take it home?” said Ketch, 18, who lives in the township.
Both Ketch and friend Robert Alvator, 17, also of Middletown, want to be police officers. Ketch said he is interested in becoming a Monmouth County Sheriff’s officer or being a member of Long Branch Police, where his father, also named Rich, is retired from.
“I’m a Police Explorer in Highlands,” Alvator said. “I’d like to work in Highlands as a police officer. I like small-town policing.”
For Fisher, Middletown Day is a return to her youth, something she can share with her daughter, Nalani.
“I grew up here, she’s growing up here,” Fisher said. “I did this as a kid. We came by so she could have the same experience.”
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