By Paul Lonardo
Last spring, the town of Smithfield had an Easter Egg Hunt, held at night with glow in the dark eggs, which was very well received by town residents. Because Easter came so early this year, it was decided that they would do something different to bring the community together and share a good time. This year’s incarnation was called Family Fun Day, and it was held on Tuesday, April 17 at Deerfield Park.
The people on the all-volunteer committee that put the town’s Christmas parade together the previous two winters were called upon to arrange this event, and in the process the Smithfield’s All Lit Up Christmas Parade Committee were renamed the Smithfield Special Events Committee. It started out small, according to Kate McAdam-Prickett, co-chair of the committee who helped make Family Fun Day happen. “We planned to invite a few kid-friendly businesses, set up some tables, and have a raffle, but then it blossomed into this really great event, with pony rides, special performances and a DJ! For our first time having this event, we couldn’t believe how many people turned out and what a success it truly was.”
This family-oriented community event began at 10 a.m., and with the unseasonable cool temperatures we have been seeing during the month of April, the only question seemed to be if the weather would cooperate. Despite the Fall-ish feel in the air, no rain dampened the festivities and the event went off as planned. In fact, it far exceeded expectations, according to Kate. The people may have been wearing jackets and sweatshirts, but they were wearing lots of smiles as well.
The local business community really stepped up, donating everything from the food and beverages to the entertainment and prizes that were given away. Stop & Shop, Dave’s Market and DePetrillo’s Bakery were all very generous. “It was amazing how many people were so giving to us,” Kate said. Many people donated their time. Home Depot, Mastery Martial Arts, Greenville Library as well as some of the local schools, like St. Philip and Bright Start Academy, all got involved.
“We asked them if they wanted to have demonstrations,” Kate said. “It would be a great way to get the word out about their summer programs, even their fall programs, so it was good for them as well, in terms of advertising and marketing.”
All of the businesses donated gifts for the raffle, which was very successful, with more than $500 worth of raffle tickets being sold, and many people winning something. The funds raised would go toward the Christmas parade, or another town event.
This year they restricted the business participation to Smithfield businesses only. “It would have been mayhem if we had more,” Kate says. “We had people coming up to us all day, giving us their business cards for next year wanting to be a part of it.” So next year it promises to be even bigger and better.
The day also featured activity stations, touch-a-truck, face painting, pony rides, and music by DJ Jim Gagnon, from Celebrations Entertainment kept people moving. There was a massive rock wall donated by the National Guard that only the bravest of the brave dared to climb. Buddy, the therapy Golden Retriever from Winfield Funeral Home was on hand to greet people, as was Sparky the Fire Safety Mascot. There were also performances by J-DAPA, Johnston Dance And Performing Arts, a theater group in which a lot of Smithfield children participate. Belle and Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast were in costume, performing, with some of the singing done by students from Smithfield High School.
By all measures, Smithfield Family Fun Day was huge success, with people and businesses anxious to see something like that happen again before next year. Kate hinted that The Committee, which also consists of: Rep. Tom Winfield Chair of the committee, Chief Robert Seltzer, Captain Ken Brown, Sergeant Cory Carpenter, Ann Marie Donahue, Karen Armstrong, Charlie Walsh, Dorothy Swain, and Bob Caine may have something in the works this summer, but she was not at liberty to disclose any details. So, stayed tuned for more information on that. We will get the word out as soon as we hear.