Easter Egg Hunt Extravaganza one of many events on April 8

Photo by Chris Sykes
The Easter Bunny kneels beside a child at the annual Easter Egg Hunt Extravaganza in Orange on Saturday, April 8, the same day as other events across the city, including the Elementary School Age Basketball Championship tournament at Orange Preparatory Academy, an Orange High School baseball game at the Central Field and a Special Needs Easter Egg Hunt for autistic children at the Orange Public Library.

ORANGE, NJ — The Orange Township Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs and Mayor Dwayne Warren had a big day on Saturday, April 8, with a variety of community events and activities that took place in locations across the city, including the annual Easter Egg Hunt Extravaganza in the Central Avenue Playground.

“This is our annual Easter Egg Hunt that we have every year; we’ve doing it for about 15, 16 years at different locations in Orange … we’ve been having it all over, just reaching out to the kids as a community project, where the Orange Health Department, along with the Orange community and Orange Recreation, all come together for the kids,” said Campanella Godfrey, the cultural affairs coordinator, who was manning the city’s portable popcorn machine Saturday, April 8. “Understand that today is a special day. We’ve got an Elementary School Basketball Championship game going on in the Orange Preparatory Academy Gym; we got baseball going on in the Central Avenue field; and the Easter Egg Extravaganza going on right here. This is definitely a community day.”

Members of the Orange Fire Department were also involved, including Capt. Jamie Anderson, who served as the deejay at the Easter Egg Hunt, and firefighter Leonard Stewart, who helped at the basketball game. Fire Director Kenneth Douglas was also on hand at the egg hunt with one of his children, despite the chilly, windy spring weather.

“Capt. Anderson definitely raised the roof on a beautiful day and it’s a beautiful Easter ceremony and I’m glad that recreation had it,” Douglas said Saturday, April 8. “It’s my second one that I’ve been to since I’ve been the director and I’m glad and really appreciate being here. One thing being the director is that Orange, being a small town, but (people have) a big heart for each other. They take care of one another. I come from a bigger town originally, but what I’ve seen here, I’m amazed by it.”

Douglas went on to say he admires the “comradery amongst the citizens” that he has experienced in Orange, where there are “all types of citizens here, all nationalities and everyone gets along.”

Anderson said that’s just how Orange has always been and is supposed to be.

“I remember, growing up as a kid, everybody had something: The Italians had their thing and the Irish had their thing and there was stuff for black people, Spanish people, too,” said Anderson on Saturday, April 8. “This has always been like a real mixed community and it continues to be that way. And there was another Easter Egg Hunt at the library, for autism, with Councilwoman Jamie Summers-Johnson.”

The diversity and multiculturalism Anderson noted are two of the main reasons Orange Recreation Department supervisor Keith Pressey said inclusion is a priority, especially now that the department has a new director, Greg Tynes.

“It’s a beautiful day; it’s very, very vibrant and, as you can see, we have a high school varsity baseball game; in Central Playground, we have an Easter Egg Hunt; and then right here at the OPA school, we have our Elementary School Age Basketball Championship games; a cheering demonstration; and also, additionally, there was an Easter Egg Hunt for Children with Special Needs … at the Orange Public Library,” Pressey said Saturday, April 8. “We’re putting the work in. We’re spread thin, unfortunately, but we’re built tough, so we’re getting it done. We got some new leadership in recreation. A gentleman has come home: Mr. Greg Tynes. He’s one of Orange’s most prolific high school basketball scorers, who’s in several Basketball Halls of Fame: Seton Hall, Orange. The Recreation Department is now under his leadership and we’re looking to thrive this spring and summer.”

Tynes said it is good to be back home in Orange, helping kids and working with them to develop their abilities, continuing the local tradition that helped make him that man he is today.

“I’m from here; I’m from Orange High; I went to Orange, went to Oakwood Avenue, Lincoln Avenue, Central, this building, back when it was the only high school, and the new building,” Tynes said Saturday, April 8. “Orange pride is everything. I just want you to know that, in 1974, we was the No. 1 basketball team in the state. Not 2, not 3, No. 1. We were 29-1.”

And now, Tynes said, he’s looking to bring that winning history back to Orange by working with the Recreation Department. He returns to Orange by way of nearby West Orange, where he taught for many years.

“I always wanted to come back home; I was brought up in recreation and I wanted to come back home and see if I can put some things in recreation — things that saved me, that helped me,” said Tynes. “I just started Jan. 3, so I just started this year and I’ve been here about three months. Things are going well; I’m just learning some things. I was in education for over 30 years, so I know athletics, I know education, so I’m just learning the government end of recreation right now.”

Pressey said he’s happy to be helping Tynes navigate his learning curve and Warren said he’s glad to have him back in Orange in a leadership position.

“We’ve got new blood, but he’s a person that served in Orange many years, played his basketball here and right here at Seton Hall University, came back, served his community and is now back in Orange doing the same,” said Warren on Saturday, April 8. “When you bring back skill, competence and a connection to the community, you can’t lose.”

Terry Boyd, another local Orange High basketball legend who currently coaches with the Orange Recreation Department, said Warren was right to emphasize “family” in his remarks about all the April 8 events in Orange.

“We have a lot of people that came back to Orange. Everybody that we have here working now at the table refereeing, they’re all graduates of Orange High School, which is a good thing. For me, Orange pride means family, tradition, being at home and keeping it at home with the people that we have here and trying to build a stronger community for our kids.”