PENNINGTON: Children learn what makes a town busy

By John Tredrea, Special Writer
   Toll Gate kindergartners got an in-depth look at how Pennington Borough operates on the morning of May 2 when they visited the heart of the borough’s downtown and met with Mayor Anthony Persichilli, merchants, police, first responders, the borough’s Public Works Department and others to find out what makes their busy town click.
   In fact, “Busytown” is the name of this annual event, in which Toll Gators, whose school is in Pennington a few blocks from the downtown area, get a chance to find out how a municipality takes care of all kinds of business.
   ”Welcome to Busytown!” declared Mayor Persichilli, spiffily dressed for the occasion in a formal black suit emblazoned with a bright white sash, worn diagonally over his suit jacket, that said “Mayor” in bold black letters.
   The youngsters also met with Julie Aberger, a longtime volunteer with the Pennington First Aid Squad. “I’m an emergency medical technician — they call us EMTs for short,” Ms. Aberger said.
   She told the students about the training an EMT receives and, using one of the kindergartners to help her demonstrate (see photo), showed how she would treat an arm injury at an accident scene to which an ambulance had been dispatched.
   On the commercial side of Busytown, the youngsters crowded around Greg Fontaine, who sat on a backhoe used by his Pennington-based company, A&E Construction, on North Main Street.
   ”We use this machine to move earth and get ground ready for construction jobs we do,” said Mr. Fontaine. He also read to them from a children’s book, “Mike Mulligan,” about a hard-working fellow who’s in the earth-moving business.
   Among many other stops, they also visited Agabiti’s shoe repair shop at 14 N. Main St., and, out in front of the store, had an interesting meeting with Erwin Harbat, who owns the building in which Agabiti’s is housed.
   Mr. Harbat, who grew up on a Hopewell Township dairy farm that he still lives on, brought a special visitor to Busytown — one of his chickens. He sat on a bench in front of Agabiti’s with the chicken in his lap.
   ”Can we pet the chicken?” one of the kindergartners asked.
   ”Sure,” Mr. Harbat said. “She’s nice and friendly.”
   So a cluster of kindergartners gently petted the chicken, which continued to sit calmly in Mr. Harbat’s lap.
   ”I like this chicken,” one of the youngsters said.
   ”So do I,” said Mr. Harbat. Pointing to a few eggs in a nearby basket, he added: “And I like the eggs, too. This chicken gave them to me.”
   And Morris Fabian, of Public Works, demonstrated how the controls of one of the town’s garbage trucks work. The children watched, fascinated, as the big truck roared through its routine of accepting and compacting trash.
   See you next year at Busytown!