The 37th annual Pennington Day event was almost cancelled this year due to a loss of key board positions. Determined to preserve the event, Pennington Day board members hung “Save Pennington Day” flyers throughout town and launched a call to action across social media. Within one week, twice the number of needed volunteers stepped forward. The event will be held on May 19, 2018, 10am to 4pm, in the Borough from Delaware to Welling Avenues and along adjacent streets.
According to the event’s website, “Pennington Day’s origins date back to January 1980 when a huge fire occurred at the Pennington School’s four-story O’Hanlon Hall. The blaze brought 19 fire companies to the scene to fight the unfolding disaster. In its aftermath, the borough and its residents came together in an effort to decide what they could do to help the school recover from its tragedy. From the ashes of O’Hanlon Hall sprang the first Pennington Day later that year; the proceeds [from] which helped the school recover from its disaster.”
The Pennington Day organization is a nonprofit, composed of 15 committees chaired by board members. With the addition of six new board members, several of the committees will now have co-chairs.
“They weren’t friends of ours, they were just people who cared about the day,” said Rachel Donington, Pennington Day Board Chair.
Her favorite response emailed was from Chris Sullivan who signed up to co-chair the PR & Media Committee. In the subject line, he wrote, “LMK (Let me know) how many volunteers you need,” and in the body of the email, “I’ll organize an army.”
Besides food trucks, live music, games, approximately 200 booth vendors, and Hopewell Valley Arts Council’s “Art Walk” in Howe Commons, grants are awarded to nonprofits that serve the Hopewell Valley community. Income through event day sponsorships and booth registrations fuel the grant awards.
Last year, thirteen grants totalling $6,000 were given to the following organizations for their projects: Age-Out Angels (Mentoring program for foster children); Boy Scouts of America Troop 44 (Matthew Watterson, Eagle Scout Candidate (food drive collection bins); Friends in Service Here (Meals for underprivileged in Hopewell Valley); Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (Native plant arboretum at Mt. Rose Preserve); Hopewell Valley Aging in Place (Awareness Campaign); Hopewell Valley Senior Services (Hopewell Valley Rides); Hopewell Valley Historic Society, Pennington Public Library, and Pennington United Methodist Church (Spirit of the Valley historic program); Mercer Street Friends Food Bank (Students Change Hunger); Pennington African Cemetery Association (Headstone repairs and lawn mower); Pennington Economic Development Commission (Historic Pennington banners); Pennington First Aid (New computers for ambulances); Pennington Public Library (Children’s world languages picture books); and The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association (ADA compliant boardwalks in trail system).
Grant applications are being accepted now through April 15th from any nonprofit serving the Hopewell Valley community. Booth registrations will begin on March 1, 2018 and can be found by visiting their website: www.penningtonday.org. General information can be found on their website and by visiting their social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
“It was nice to know that people value this day,” said Donington. “It’s Pennington’s signature event.”