The recreation department at the Stafford Township is bustling with activity today on what the department's director described as "the busiest day of the year," as the town gears up for one of its biggest traditions tomorrow -- Founders Day.
Depending on the weather, 2500 to 3,000 residents attend the annual celebration, according to Recreation Director Betti Anne McVey.
The tradition, which goes back 49 years, started as an opportunity to celebrate the founding of the town.
"The local historical society, and a lot of volunteers and local organizations get involved to make the day what it is each year," McVey said.
From breakfast with seniors, to contests, to fireworks, tomorrow will have a lot to offer.
Here is the schedule for the day's events:
8 a.m. The festivities start with a brunch for the town's senior citizens (age 70 and older) at the fire house, hosted by the Stafford Township
Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary. The brunch requires registration -- call Mill Creek Community Center, (609) 597-1000 ext. 8573, for details. Mayor John Spodofora and members of the township council will be in attendance.
A "hometown parade" will kick off from the firehouse, proceeding along Stafford Avenue toward Route 9, ending at Oxycocus Road.
The township's police department, first aid squat and the fire company will participate in the parade, along with local boy scout, cub scout and daisy troops, American Legion Post #511, Southern Regional High School Rams marching band, the town's Grand Marshalls and others. The parade will also include a lineup of classic cars, police motorcycle escort and a stilt walker.
Many downtown businesses will be open at that time, and the Art House, at 182 N. Main Street will host an exhibition during the parade.
12 - 1 p.m.
The celebration will move to the Manahawkin Lake Park at this time, where after an opening ceremony with speeches and thank you's from the mayor and other officials, Southern Regional Vocal Ensembles will perform, Little Miss Stafford (girls ages 5 -7) and Little Town Crier (boys ages 5 - 7) contests will take place and local craft and food vendors will feature their products and local businesses will offer information and discounts.
4 p.m. -- after dark
The activities will move to Doc Cramer fields for contests and music, culminating in traditional fireworks.
These will start with a pie-eating contest, followed by Stafford Idol contest at 5 p.m. Miss Stafford Pagent at 7 p.m. (contestants' ages 15-19), Stafford Idol finals at 7:45 p.m. and a DJ dance party at 8 p.m.
The fireworks will take place at dusk.
The township determined Sunday, June 10, as the rain date, though according to the National Weather Service forecast for this weekend, it doesn't appear to be necessary.
Tomorrow is expected to be mostly sunny, with a high near 87, and a slight chance of rain and thunderstorms only late at night, before 2 a.m.
On Sunday, on the other hand, while it's expected to be mostly sunny, with a high near 82, there will be a small chance of precipitation after noon.
Whether you live in Manahawkin, or are a nearby resident, do you participate in Founder's Day every year? Which parts of the festivities are your favorite?