Irvington celebrates Unity Day at the high school

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IRVINGTON, NJ — The Irvington community came together on a beautiful summer day for the town’s 19th annual Unity Day celebration at Irvington High School on Aug. 28. The event featured live music, DJs and a COVID-19 vaccination clinic, further raising the vaccination rate in Irvington.

“Unity Day is an event that celebrates the diverse cultures within our township, also bridging the gap between our youth and seniors,” Mayor Tony Vauss said on Aug. 30. “The event was scheduled to be held in Orange Park in Irvington but was changed to Irvington High School gymnasium and auditorium due to the weather. Because of the pandemic, Unity Day was not held last year.

“Seventeen people were vaccinated at the event and it was a large turnout for vaccinations,” Vauss said, adding that COVID-19 safety precautions at the event included sanitizing stations, mask usage, social distancing and sanitizing all bouncy houses. “All vaccinations were available and not just for Irvington residents, but for all. Lyons Pharmacy, in conjunction with the Irvington Health Department, distributed vaccines, and the Essex County mobile unit provided COVID testing.”

In addition to having the opportunity to be vaccinated, residents enjoyed great music inside the IHS auditorium.

“The entertainment was great,” Vauss said. “We had DJ Qua, Valarie Adams & the Dimension Band, recording artist Kenny Bobien, CREME, Flava 1 Band, the Bells, and others. Five DJs attended, but Mayor Ted Green,” who has DJed at Unity Day in the past, “had a wedding to attend so he could not make it. But Unity Day had a large turnout, with over 200 people attending.”

Irvington Recreation Department Director Donald Malloy said the town brought out all of its 52-foot inflatable bouncy houses for the event.

“The kids were really enjoying that,” Malloy said on Aug. 30. “We also had a raffle with some of the kids, but then we eventually gave gifts to all of the kids, which were provided to us by the Irvington Fire Department union, which was really great. Then we gave about 200 free book bags to the kids because they’re getting ready for school soon.”

The bags were donated by a police union in Essex County.

“We had a huge cookout outside with hot dogs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets, with a lot of drinks for the kids, and we gave a dinner to the seniors where they had a lot of food as well,” Malloy added.

Despite this year’s great turnout, Vauss is hoping for an even greater one next year, as that will be Unity Day’s 20th anniversary.

“It was a good turnout in a limited capacity because of indoors and the event not being outside in an open park setting. But it was still a great turnout,” Vauss said, adding that, next year, “we are hopeful to do it in a big way, and hopefully COVID-19 will be long gone by then.

In Malloy’s opinion, the event didn’t skip a beat, even with the location change.

“I really enjoyed it even though I was tired because it was a lot of work. We staged everything over at the high school early the morning of,” Malloy said, explaining that they had to move everything from Orange Park to the high school and set up tents for cooking. “The event turned out really well, and I was really pleased with the staff. The DPW helped us transition everything, and everything turned out well. I was just glad we were able to transition out of Orange Park into the high school.”

Photos Courtesy of Tony Vauss

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