May I have your attention please: ‘One of a kind’ Larry Ivan honored with sculpture at Community Park Pool (With multiple photos)


Larry Ivan addresses the crowd at the Princeton Community Pool Complex on Friday

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
The moment got to Larry Ivan on Friday, when family, past students and friends came to honor the man whose voice and presence at Community Park Pool had been a constant for decades.
“And this day (is) very special. It means a lot,” he said, at one point shielding his eyes from the setting sun that shone in his face.
Behind him, a green bronze sculpture of him hangs on a wall, a tribute that donations from people who knew him as a coach, a teacher, a boss — and, perhaps most importantly, as a friend — paid for.
Standing in front of them, he cried a little and took in the moment as the sculpture was unveiled in his honor at the pool where his voice was one of the sounds of summer in Princeton.
“May I have your attention please, may I have your attention please,” he would say without fail to begin his announcement that the pool was closed, words that the guests Friday would say in unison toward the end of the ceremony.
“He is just the most special individual I’ve ever met in my life,” said Cindy Baker, a family friend and former pool employee in the 1970s who worked there as a teen. Ms. Baker led the fundraising effort to pay for the sculpture, created by artist Stephanie Magdziak.
She based her artwork, in part, on photos of Mr. Ivan — a man who had traveled many miles to get to Princeton.
Originally from California, he moved east to Rahway where he attended high school. He was a top basketball player, good enough to get a scholarship to play at the University of Oklahoma and later compete professionally.
In 1958, he began working in the Princeton School district, first at Quarry Street School and later at other schools during his 41 years as an educator. Also in 1958, he got a summer job in the recreation department to be the supervisor of the Harrison Street playground, later moving over to the pool.
“Your ability to connect with people, young, old, black, white, rich, poor — I think that’s really the thing that’s made you so successful in all the things you’ve done,” municipal recreation director Ben Stentz told him in his remarks. “You’re one of a kind.”
Now 83, Mr. Ivan had been battling health problems that forced him to miss the pool season last year. For this season, there is an open door for him to work at the pool in any capacity he is able.
“I can’t thank you enough for being here,” Mr. Ivan said at one point when his voice trailed off as the emotion grew great.
“First time that’s ever happened,” a man’s voice called out from the crowd to add a touch of levity to an emotional moment. Seeing Mr. Ivan cry in public, a man who competed against basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain, the coach of athletes, the teacher, was a rare thing.
“It’s the group, the respect that I have for you,” Mr. Ivan started up again. “It doesn’t happen very often, I can tell you that. But it’s a pleasure to cry here.” 