High anticipation for summer programming in Irvington after last year’s hiatus

Chris Gatling Recreation Center

IRVINGTON, NJ — After a summer full of shutdowns last year, this year’s spring and summer activities have been eagerly awaited. Now that vaccines are about to be available for most members of the public, summer programs and activities are back in full swing, and the Chris Gatling Recreation Center is planning to take full advantage.

Unlike last year, this year’s programming offers a new way to learn and play; interactive gaming has now been added as an activity offering. Township Recreation Director Donald Malloy, who has worked for the township of Irvington for more than 20 years, is excited to feature this newest way to play.

“The plans for the center are to run a summer activities program, starting on Tuesday, July 6, and ending on Friday, Aug. 20,” Malloy said on April 8 of the Summer Fun in the Sun program, which will run Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. “The programs offered are recreational activities, which are games, sports, exercise, arts and crafts, swimming, and virtual games. Our new wave for the summer is the introduction of a virtual program from an independent vendor. We are also offering interactive games, such as PS4 and Xbox.”

According to Malloy, thanks to funding from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s Child and Nutrition program and the USDA, the township will be providing free breakfast and lunch programs this summer, to ensure children — who might usually receive food through school — do not go hungry. The meals will be provided by a state vendor and will be transported to the individual distribution sites in Irvington via refrigerated truck.

Though the recreation center is once again holding in-person summer programming, this does not mean that residents can ignore the dangers still posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Malloy, in order to keep all participants safe and healthy, the Recreation Department will be adhering to strict COVID-19 guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this summer, as well as those laid out by Gov. Phil Murphy in his executive orders.

“The steps taken were through discussions about protocols and sequences of flow — prioritizing safety first and following CDC guidelines,” Malloy said. “We will use safety measures such as social distancing, with two children to a table who will be 6 feet apart; sanitizing tables after use, which will be every two hours; sanitizing equipment after use; hand sanitizing stations; mask wearing; etc.”

With the ongoing pandemic, it’s natural for parents to continue to feel apprehensive about allowing their children to participate in social activities. Nevertheless, Malloy says he believes the 2021 summer program will have a high participation rate.

“We are always excited about starting the summer program, especially with the safety measures put in place for the pandemic,” Malloy said. “After a school year of remote learning, I believe parents are on board and are eager to have their children come out and participate. We anticipate over 200 children. I am anticipating the kids will be excited about seeing their friends and schoolmates.”

To register for summer programming at the Chris Gatling Recreation Center, visit https://irvington.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/2021-SUMMER-recreation-APPLICATION.pdf.