VERNON TOWNSHIP, NJ - Maple Grange Park was filled throughout the day on Sunday, June 9, with participants, vendors, spectators, and attendees, for Vernon Day, first the 1K and 5K in the morning, and then the festival event in the afternoon.
"We put on various events throughout the year," said Mary Bradley of the Vernon Township Board of Recreation.
The weather, which had been very inclement with heavy rains at the end of last week, became sunny and warm on Saturday and Sunday.
"Every Vernon Day it [the weather] cooperates with us," Bradley added.
The day kicked off with the Vernon Day 1K and 5K through the park, onto Maple Grange Road, then to Canal Street, and the looped back through the opposite side of the park from where the race started.
"This is our third Vernon Day 5K," said Missi Weidbrauk, Vernon's Director of Community Affairs.
There were 245 registered, with 207 participating in the 5K. Among them, were a large group of participants who sported fluorescent yellow t-shirts emblazoned with names on the back of those who began leaving their couch, to train for the 5K.
The race started at 9:00 a.m., with the first few runners visible on the return loop from the other side of the park at 9:15 a.m. The first runner in was Louie Stengel of Vernon at 17:43.4. Next was Zack Price of Stanhope, formerly of Vernon, at 18:00.1. The third runner was Cory Hellwig of Vernon at 18:12.3.
Stengel, Price, and Hellwig were the top three finishers overall. The first woman to cross the finish line was Janice Frontera of Vernon, at 23:39.7; Frontera placed number 22 overall. The second place in women's was Kelsey Lapp at 24:08.1, and she ranked number 26 overall. Melanie Beattle of Warwick, N.Y., was the third top female, and placed number 33, at 25:19.0.
Price, who runs 5K's frequently, complimented the efforts of the organizers.
"It was run really well," said Price. "I want to say thanks to all the volunteers."
As runners were trickling in from the 5K, the field began transitioning for the Vernon Day event, preparing for about 74 vendors, ranging from non-profit groups to small businesses, to food stands.
When Vernon Day officially kicked off at noon, the parking lot was filled to capacity, and the crowd was actively browsing the various booths, while small children were busily bouncing in the bounce houses, and sliding down the large inflatable slide, courtesy of the Vernon PAL.
"We have people come back every year," Bradley said of the event. "We have people come from all over the county, and vendors from as far away as Ramsey."
Some of the other highlights were a dunk tank, performances by Vernon Karate and Simply Dance, massages (Grano Chiropractic, and Marika Bazzone, who donated her tips to the Sussex County Veteran's Cemetery), and voter registration. Oliver the Sepastapol Goose was another highlight, who entertained passerbys as he waddled around in a custom-made flowered diaper, stopping to allow his owner, Leesa Beckmann, to hold him while children and adults stroked his silky feathers.
Booths ranged from the Vernon Historical Society to St. Thomas Episcopal Church, from the Vernon Coalition to the McAfee Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary; and from the Vernon Taxpayer Association to Vernon Youth Football. Vendors like Tupperware, Lia Sophia had a presence, and even Ashley Bray, a 13 year-old resident, was there with duct tape hair bows for sale that she fashioned.
The bows are not created with the standard variety of grey duct tape, but colorful patterns and prints, and had over 60 on her table.
"I was thinking of creative ideas, and I thought of these," she said.
The Glen Meadow School student's mother, Stacey Bray, said, "She has been doing these for the last two months. She combines this color, and that color. She did this on her own. I'm proud of her."
In addition to the items for sale, food vendors peddled such fare as Philly Cheesesteaks, fries, cotton candy, and fresh-squeezed lemonade. Gary Martinsen from Vernon's own Nordic House, served up Swedish Meatballs, Cucumber Salad, and Almond Kringle Cake.
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