The large open lot outside LifeTown; The Jerry Gottesman Center off Route 10 in Livingston was the place to be on Labor Day, September 4.
The late summer holiday, often celebrated with family picnics and barbecues, is meant to be a day of rest and relaxation for workers. With a low admission fee per family, seeing siblings and cousins walking hand in hand, the excitement of many inflatable slides and rides, giveaways, face painting, bubble wands, cotton candy, snacks for grabs, and Glatt kosher food for sale made it a perfect way for families to celebrate Labor Day at the second annual MetroWest Hatzalah Family Fun Day.
A lane of emergency vehicles including a fire engine, police car and ambulances with sirens sounding and horns beeping, and music playing added to the excitement of so many smiling children. The children eagerly competed in rope climbing and took their turns at the popular dunk tank, while others played on or with inflatables, such as slides, the bounce castle and games of darts and basketball.
As the children tested their skills by running from one fun activity to another, parents and grandparents relaxed and caught up with friends they met at the event. Plus, the children learned about essential workers and volunteers, which for Shael Sokolowski, coordinator, Hatzalah of MetroWest, made the event “mission accomplished.”
Gail, the wife of West Orange Hatzalah volunteer Mark Hausdorff, looked around at the happy children in the well-attended event and commented, “It’s so nice to bring people in the day before school starts; it takes away the jitters to do something fun.”
Acknowledging her husband, a volunteer at MetroWest Hatzalah for about two years, she complimented the West Orange and Livingston squads for connecting and working well together. She noted that they work to serve Jewish and non-Jewish members of the community.
Children of all ages enjoyed a fun-packed two hours at the event.
Leyla Balavram, 4, of South Orange, was most excited about “cotton candy,” while Ruthie Dubin of Fair Lawn took a second from jumping on a ride to smile for the camera and show off her face painting by one of the talented artists.
Livingston local Yonah Proops, escorted around the lot by his brother Ashi, said it was “cool and fun” shooting the fire hose because “you can twist it and it goes wider.” He was overheard excitedly telling a firefighter that he could see a rainbow in the water before he ran off to get to the next fun activity with some well-received giveaways the firefighter offered.
At the Hatzalah ambulance, a CPR demonstration on a dummy was “really cool,” according to Chaya Schapiro, 9, from New York City. There, with her cousins Tzivia Grossbaum, 11, from Livingston, and Yehudis Losh, 7, also from New York City, the three cousins held hands as they learned and participated in the various activities.
While hearing the word “cool” so many times on a hot day was funny, the happy children didn’t seem to mind the spiking temperatures at the second annual MetroWest Hatzalah Family Fun Day, which expressed their second favorite comment of the day’s activities: “fun.”
In line with the other emergency vehicles, police officers were on hand at their patrol car. As they gathered with the officers for a photo, Tziporah Sherman, 5, of Fair Lawn, and her brother Shua, 2, were prompted by their parents to thank the officers for protecting them.
Elliot Trenk, from West Orange, geared up in his Yoda hat, scaled up the rock-climbing tower. Asked how it was, he replied, “high,” as he darted off with friends to try the next activity.
In my case, I met a family of long-lost cousins from Springfield. Never having met in person, they were recognizable from Facebook. Ariella and Eric Bloom were there with their four children, Jacob, Sadie, Jordan and Tessa. After spending their time on other activities earlier in the day, the entire family made sure to meet up at the well-planned MetroWest event.
For the list of generous event sponsors, more information, or to donate, go to www.hatzalahmetrowest.org/FFD
Sharon Mark Cohen believes everyone deserves a legacy. Follow her weekly Tuesday blog posts at sharonmarkcohen.com.