Friends of Irvington Park kicks off busy year with Movie Night

Photo by Chris Sykes
Omar Bilal Beasley, right, pictured at the state unveiling and street renaming of his father, D. Bilal Beasley, on Saturday, Sept. 29, has been very involved in the activities of the Friends of Irvington Park. ‘The Friends of Irvington Park are for the summer to come,’ he explained. ‘Once that comes, we’re going to bust out. We’ve got so many programs and events planned for our youth and seniors.’

IRVINGTON, NJ — According to Omar Bilal Beasley and South Ward Councilwoman Sandy Jones, the Friends of Irvington Park has big things in store for 2019.

First was Movie Night at the senior citizens building on Nye Avenue on Tuesday, Jan. 8. This kickoff event was scheduled indoors, due to the seasonably cold weather.

“Sometimes, with all the moving and shaking that goes on in the world, we forget the seniors. But my father told me we always take care of the babies and the seniors,” said Beasley, who also serves as in the Garden State Grand Lodge of Freemasons, in addition to his role with the Friends of Irvington Park, on Tuesday, Jan. 8. “I think we’re either going to show ‘Black Panther,’ ‘Venom’ or ‘Rage.’ I’ve got all these movies that we can bring out any time to bring people together for fellowship, love and peace.”

Beasley said that’s especially the case for seniors in town around the holidays, as they may not have families to spend quality time with on a regular basis. Events such as Movie Night offer a respite from their solitude, and every senior from the three buildings on Nye Avenue was invited to participate.

“A lot of our seniors live alone and don’t have any family and some of them never come out of their apartments and Councilwoman Jones and I wanted to do something about that,” said Beasley. “This gives them a chance to come out of their apartments. All three buildings are invited. Anything to bring people together.”

He said he can’t wait until winter ends, so they can kick off the entire slate of spring and summer events they have planned.

“The Friends of Irvington Park are for the summer to come,” said Beasley. “Once that comes, we’re going to bust out. We’ve got so many programs and events planned for our youth and our seniors, including a tennis tournament, basketball tournament, our annual Father’s Day Cookout and much, much more. We’re also planning to do some talent shows here, because we’ve got so many talented youth in this town that are just looking for an … opportunity to show what they can do. We’re just waiting for the weather to break.”

Beasley said it’s important to build on recent successful events, such as the food giveaway conducted in the D. Bilal Beasley Community Center in Irvington Park, in conjunction with Masjid Warith ud Deen in Newark, the Embrace Relief nonprofit in Fairfield and the Edep Academy Home School and After School Program in Wayne; the children’s skating trip to the Floyd Hall Arena Ice Skating Rink with with Steve Harris and the Irvington Coalition for Empowerment; and the annual Toy Drive and Gift Giveaway every holiday season, with support and donations from the local chapter of the Garden State Grand Lodge Freemasons. He and Jones said it’s important to take advantage of all the park’s attractions, including the new, state-of-the-art playground outside the D. Bilal Beasley Community Center, and the new basketball court, water sprinklers, swings, running track, refurbished tennis courts and more.

“It’s all about the kids and showing them that there is more than what they see of a corner and on the news,” said Beasley. “Our children need to be exposed to more than the neighborhood.”

Jones agreed with Beasley. A few years ago, she partnered with Harris to take a group of children skating on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. She will be with Beasley at the 34th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee Legacy of a Dream Event in the Irvington High School Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 19, but she said the spirit that moved her and Harris to “do something for the kids” will also be alive and well.

“This is a mission to get our kids introduced to things that they have not tried,” said Jones on Tuesday, Jan. 8. “And it all starts with the Jan. 8 Movie Night.”

Omar Bilal said he couldn’t agree more and added the Friends of Irvington Park is always looking to add more members.

“It doesn’t cost nothing to be a member of the Friends of Irvington Park,” he said. “All you need is to be willing to spend some time and do something good for our town and our community. This is the rent that we pay for living here on Earth.”