Residents celebrate return of community get-together

Olde Freehold Day
brought large crowd
to Lake Topanemus

By clare MARie celano
Staff Writer

Residents celebrate return
of community get-together
Olde Freehold Day
brought large crowd
to Lake Topanemus
By clare MARie celano
Staff Writer

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — True to their word, committee members pulled it off and Olde Freehold Day lived again on Aug. 2.

Lake Topanemus on Pond Road hadn’t seen so much activity in years. Bands performed all day, children played on new playground equipment, people glided along the lake in paddle boats, row boats and canoes, while others bounced around on a new volleyball court.

All the while, the activities were peppered by the aroma of French fries, funnel cakes, hamburgers and hot dogs.

One could easily say that on Aug. 2, thousands of people walked through the gate at the "pond," as it is affectionately referred to by locals.

The lake is owned by Freehold Borough and located in Freehold Township. The Lake Topanemus Commission, a joint effort of both municipalities, oversees the facility.

Some people gathered together at the lake as they had done in the past and remembered previous editions of Olde Freehold Day; others too young to remember or too new to the area enjoyed making their own new memories of the resurrected event.

Hamburgers were prepared by the Knights of Columbus, hot dogs by the Freehold First Aid and Emergency Squad and watermelon and clams were served up by the American Legion, while the aroma of fried funnel cakes with powdered sugar blended with the scent of crispy paper thin curly fries covered with cheese. Habitat for Humanity volunteers pumped out colorful Sno-Cones for children and their parents. Soda, beer, fresh lemonade and tropical drinks were also available.

Volunteers from the Freehold Fire Department carefully manned and monitored the Olde Freehold Day beer truck. Covered with colorful Coors designs, the truck could be seen from almost anywhere. Partakers of the $1 draft beer were asked to remain in a fenced-in area while officials checked identifications and observed party-goers.

Freehold Borough police Lt. Mitch Roth and officers with the Freehold Township Police Department patrolled the park all day, directing traffic and helping out.

Music was on tap all day, changing hourly. Lee Deedmeyer of Mission Dance belted out tunes from the stage and also made a few trips into the audience as well, sparking excitement and encouraging the audience members to join in the fun.

Other musical groups who performed at Olde Freehold Day were StreetHeart, Jerry Fallon’s Dixieland Band, the Ocean County String Band, Jim Murphy and the Pine Barons and DJ Dee Best Entertainment.

Boats donated by the Monmouth County Park System and manned by the Freehold First Aid and Emergency Squad were in plentiful supply, lining the lake with families having fun, reminiscent of days gone by, according to Roger Kane, chairman of the Lake Topanemus Commission.

"Seeing all the boats on the lake was so gratifying, [it was] just like in the old days," he said.

Kane said that talking to residents revealed that many had renewed old friendships with people they hadn’t seen in years.

"It was always our intent to bring the community together, which was a very positive thing," he said, adding that it was a team effort, referring to the 30 volunteers along with the employees from the road department, without whose help the day would not have been possible. "There was no dead weight on that committee. They worked right up to the event and even after."

Judi Guy, co-chair of the Olde Freehold Day Committee, said the day was "great" and that there was an excellent turnout.

"I’m so glad we were able to do this for the community," Guy said, adding that she was glad community organizations were able to come out and let residents know about their work as well.

Freehold Borough Councilman Kevin Kane, a member of the Olde Freehold Day Committee, said the event was a lot of work, but noted that the team he worked with had done that work "to perfection."

"You’re only as good as the people surrounding you," the councilman said.

Kane told the News Transcript he deliberately recruited committee members who had been involved in the previous Olde Freehold Day events because the event truly meant something to them. He added a crop of new volunteers to the mix and together they all worked toward their common goal of having an old-fashioned family outing.

Kane complimented all of the committee members and praised the Freehold Borough Street and Road Department employees for their efforts and enthusiasm. He said he and his fellow committee people are already planing 2004’s Olde Freehold Day which, so far, will include crafters. He said committee members were already planning new activities before this year’s event had ended.

The councilman made a comment that kind of summed up the way many committee members felt.

"Just look at this," he said, looking out at the boats lining the rippling pond. "It’s just the way we all remember it."