Morristown Festival on the Green draws 50,000

 

By AARON MORRISON The Daily Record, October 3, 2010

 

MORRISTOWN — Organizers of Festival on the Green said they couldn't have wished for better weather for the thousands of families that strolled downtown streets on Sunday.

Now in its 16th year, the festival provided space to more than 150 vendors and community organizations looking to drum up community support and business before the holiday season.

"Overall we want to promote Morristown as a destination to shop, live and play," said Phil Del Giudice, chairman of the Morristown Partnership, which organizes the festival each year. "Our hope is that people come out, see what they like and come back again when the festival is over."

Organizers estimated a crowd of 50,000 people wandered through more than six blocks of booths and four performance stages.

Throughout the afternoon, attendees enjoyed performances from more than a dozen bands, including reggae group Random Test and the inspirational sounds of the Calvary Baptist Church Choirs.

On "Wellness Way," a stretch of North Park Place and Speedwell Avenue renamed to highlight booths representing local hospitals and other health organizations, children were attracted to a NASCAR-style electronic car racing booth sponsored by Bayer Consumer Care.

Hungry attendees had many options — Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Greek and Italian food vendors were spread throughout the festival grounds.

Munching on a sliced pork sandwiches were Whippany residents Mario and Carolyn Apruzzese, who have attended the festival for five years.

"The food is always good," Carolyn Apruzzese said.  "It's nice to come and find out what's going on, and try different restaurants."

The festival, co-sponsored by the Daily Record, is an important outreach opportunity for many political and social organizations in the area.

The Morris County chapter of the National Organization for Women urged passersby to sign a petition in support of two pieces of legislation that would direct state education officials to develop a school district dating violence policy.

"Every year we highlight a different issue," said Morris County NOW president Susan Waldman.  "Some people don't even know we exist and the issues we talk about never go away."

Morristown-based New Jersey AIDS Services promoted its services geared toward local men and women living with HIV.

"Education is the most important thing," said NJAS administrative assistant Kathy Murphy.

Morristown councilwoman Alison Deeb said she first attended the festival in 2001 to garner public support for local dog parks.

"This was our public forum," Deeb said.  "This is an excellent opportunity for non-profits and businesses to showcase their services."

"You can really reach the county seat here," she added.

Aaron Morrison: 973-428-6633; amorrison@njpressmedia.com