LOWER MAKEFIELD >> The township beamed with pride on Sunday as it marked the unofficial end of summer by celebrating community.
From the time the event opened to the time it closed with a dazzling display of fireworks by the Zambelli Brothers, hundreds enjoyed Lower Makefield’s Community Pride Day as the final weekend of summer breezed by.
And there were smiles everywhere you looked at Community Park, from the kids taking a whirlwind ride on the popular Gyro, to the young people competing in the 3v3 basketball tournament to the adults and kids testing their putting skills at an activity offered by the Makefield Highlands Golf Club.
Hundreds spent the day enjoying wandering musicians, watching their kids have a blast in the Fun Zone and browsing by about 30 booths showcasing many of the township’s nonprofit community groups, boards and commissions.
At one of the booths Junior Girl Scout Troop 21574 from Afton Elementary challenged everyone who stopped by to play a trivia game educating the public about plastic pollution.
Through the game, which the girls developed as part of a Girl Scout “Take Action” project, troop members encouraged people to reduce their use of plastic grocery bags which they said pose a threat to the environment endangering fish, seal, turtles, seabirds and dolphins.
“I’d say we had about 50 people play the game up to this point,” said Lauren Templeton who co-leads the troop with Shauna Menarde. “It’s been great. People have been supportive and interested and they generally know the facts. And they’ve been enthused.”
Looking around at all the excitement of Community Pride Day, Templeton smiles. “This is terrific,” she said. “The girls are having fun. They actually got to dunk their instrumental music teacher in the dunk tank. We also had some who played in the 3v3 basketball tournament. It’s absolutely a fun day for the community.”
Nearby, Lisa Huchler from the township’s Disability Advisory Committee was busy promoting the group’s upcoming Roll and Stroll on September 29 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Memorial Park.
The event will bring together people of all abilities to take a self-timed walk/roll around the new 1K walking path at the park. There will also be light refreshments, an exhibition game by the YMS Special Stars and vendors with information about programs for special needs.
Participants under the age of 18 and special needs who register before Sept. 14 will receive a free t-shirt. After Sept. 14, shirts will be available while supplies last.
Huchler and other members of the committee also handed out information on handicapped parking and ADA requirements.
Also spending a busy day were members of the Riverstone Church who were handing out free water and cotton candy. A line of kids snaked it’s way around the booth as Jennifer Shaffer and her daughter, Kayla, and Anna Evanchik twirled paper cones around the a cotton candy machine trying to keep up with the demand.
“It’s not too bad once you get your rhythm,” said Jennifer Shaffer of making the sticky cotton candy treat. “We’ve probably given out more than 150 at this point,” said estimates. “The demand seems to come and go. There’s either nobody or a line of 20.”
Shaffer said she loves Community Day and the pride it promotes. “It’s always so nice to see people and to visit the different booths and enjoy the entertainment. I think this is great,” she said.
Long lines were also forming at the dunk tank, one of the more popular attractions of the day, for a chance to dunk Pennsbury principals Donna McCormick Miller (Makefield Elementary), Barbara Hidalgo (Penn Valley), Laurie Ruffing (Walt Disney) and Stephanie Hultquist (Edgewood) along with instrumental music teacher Patrick Bailey.
Hultquist arrived with the Edgewood Tiger and an entourage of kids eager to dunk their principal. As she climbed onto the seat of honor, a drenched Laurie Ruffing finished up her time in the tank.
The Pennsbury employees donated the money raised from their time in the tank to the Garden of Reflection, the Pennsbury Instrumental Program, the Penn Valley and Edgewood PTOs and the MS City to the Shore Ride.
Several township officials also braved the cold water, including Supervisors Chairman John Lewis, Supervisor Dan Griener and township solicitor Dave Truelove who donated the money they raised to the Lower Makefield Community Fund and the Yardley-Makefield Emergency Unit.
Just before entering the dunk tank, Lewis was volunteering at the Yardley-Makefield Lions Club booth selling tickets for a chance to win an assortment of gift baskets.
He smiled broadly as he looked out across a sea of happy faces.
“It’s a beautiful day - a little on the warm side but nothing that the dunk tank won’t cure,” he said with a smile.
“It’s a great event and the nice thing is you get to see people you don’t see that often. It brings people together. It’s also the capstone of the summer. You’ve had a long summer. The kids are anxious to be back in school. This is one last chance for all of us to get together, talk and have a good time.”
This year, Lewis passed on the bouncy house. “Normally I do. The kids love it when an adult gets in there because when you jump they all go flying,” he said. He also passed on the jousting. Last year he said he felt bad after knocking down fellow supervisor Judi Reiss, now Bucks County’s Prothonotary.
“This is a wonderful day for the township. Look around at all the people we have today. It’s just a lovely event,” said Lewis.
The big crowds were a welcome sight for Parks and Recreation Director Monica Tierney whose department spent hours organizing this year’s event for the township.
“It’s great to see everyone out here. It makes all the work worth it when you see this,” she said of the crowd. “This right here is all that hard work paying off. You can’t help but smile as you see everyone having a good time and the pride everyone is feeling today.”
In the days leading up to the event Tierney kept a close eye on the weather forecast, expressing relief as clouds mixed with sun filled the sky as the event shifted into high gear.
“We are so lucky the weather held out for us today,” she said, jokingly adding, “I’ve turned into a weather person.
“I am also very thankful for all the people who dedicated their time and resources to help us out and also our emergency services for helping with everything and keeping us safe and secure,” said Tierney.