IRVINGTON, NJ — Summer will be a busy time at the Chris Gatling Recreation Center on Union Avenue, which will offer a new arts and culture program, including dance, in addition to a host of other programs and activities scheduled to keep young people safe, engaged and active after schools close for summer.
“The most important thing is our township, and we’re promoting the municipality,” said Recreation and Cultural Affairs Director Donald Malloy on Monday, May 29, at the township’s annual Memorial Day observance. “Dance, culture and arts are part of what we’re doing at the new Chris Gatling Center, where there’s an added new program that Ms. Fiona Best is heading. One of the things with our mayor is, he’s very innovative and the one thing I like about him the most is he’s so creative.”
Best is the dance teacher and choreographer of the Irvington Dance Company, Dance Theater Education and Five Dance Theater; she is also the Chris Gatling Recreation Department’s new dance instructor. She and her young dancers marched in the annual Memorial Day Parade and were at the War Memorial on Springfield Avenue afterward to take a few pictures with Malloy and Mayor Tony Vauss.
“Irvington holds a dear spot in my heart,” said Best on Monday, May 29. “I started with Irvington when I was 17 years old and I’m going to be with Irvington until the day I die. I love Irvington. I love taking care of our kids. I love building our children up. I left for school, I came back. I left, I came back again. I left and I came back and everything that I’ve learned I make sure that I put into our people, because it’s up to us to make sure that we do something with ourselves.”
Best said she has no limits and works with anyone who is willing.
“Where there’s a will there’s a way,” she said. “I love it, I’m very good with my craft and I always continue to grow and I hope to bring all of my people with me; the fine arts and ballet.”
Vauss agreed with Best and Malloy that arts and culture are vital components to any child’s recreation and development, so he’s encouraging the growth and future expansion of the new dance and other arts and culture programs currently available at the Gatling Center.
“It’s important for everyone to know what our township has to offer,” said Vauss on Monday, May 29. “Ms. Best has been here over 10 years. She’s been doing a tremendous job with our children and these are the type of programs that we would like to promote. Most of the time, you get to hear the negative, but you don’t get to hear the positive of what people like Ms. Best are doing with our students, to help enhance the entire township.”
Malloy said one of the best things about the Gatling Center programs is their affordability.
“If you think outside of the box, you can get more done like the art classes that we’re having at the Gatling Center,” Malloy said. “We have an art instructor that does stuff and Ms. Best, on the other creative side, which is dance. We have a person over there that’s even teaching pool lessons. We have a person that’s doing table tennis, taekwondo, vocal lessons, piano — all of these are a part of our arts program at the Chris Gatling Center and it’s going wonderfully well.”
To learn more about the Irvington Recreation Department’s new programs at the Gatling Center, call 973-399-6597, visit www.irvington.net, or stop by the center at 285 Union Ave.
Vauss urged all township residents to come out and take advantage of the free programs available.