‘Red, White and Bang’ event will raise funds for next year’s July 4 fireworks display

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Labor Day is six weeks away, but the deadline to sign up for the annual “Red, White and Bang” children’s triathlon – the signature fundraising event for Lawrence Township’s annual Fourth of July fireworks show – is drawing near.

The deadline to sign up for the children’s triathlon, which is always held on Labor Day, is Aug. 24, said Nancy Bergen, who heads the township’s Recreation Department.

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There is no race day registration for the Sept. 3 event, which is geared toward children from 6 to 16 years old, Bergen said.

The event is a scaled-down version of a triathlon for adults. It is divided into swimming, bicycling and running segments. It will be held at the Lawrence Swimming Association, 74 Craven Lane, up the street from the Lawrenceville Elementary School.

The annual event raises money for the Fourth of July fireworks show. Last year, the children’s triathlon generated about $3,000 toward the goal of raising $20,000 to pay for the fireworks.

“(The children’s triathlon) is a nice event. It’s the last thing they do before they go back to school. It gets the children active. They are ready to go at 8 a.m.,” Bergen said.

Participation is limited to the first 200 children who sign up by the Aug. 24 deadline. The entry fee includes a special event T-shirt – $30 for a cotton T-shirt and $50 for a moisture-wicking T-shirt.

The registration form is available online at www.lawrencetwp.com on the Recreation Department page. It may also be picked up at the Lawrence Township Recreation Department office at the municipal building on weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

The completed registration form, which must be accompanied by the fee in cash or by check, can be dropped off at the Recreation Department office. It can also be mailed to the Recreation Department, 2207 Lawrence Road, Lawrence Township, NJ 08648.

Children between 6 and 9 years old will swim 50 meters in the pool, ride their bicycles for 2 miles in Village Park, and run for three-quarters of a mile around the Lawrenceville Elementary School. Check-in is by 9:30 a.m., and the race starts at 10 a.m.

Children between 10 and 12 years old will swim for 100 meters, and 13- to 16-year-olds will swim for 200 meters. All will ride their bicycles for 2 miles in Village Park, and run 1.5 miles around the Lawrenceville Elementary School. Check-in time is 7:30 a.m., and the race starts at 8 a.m.

For safety reasons, all children must be able to swim 50 meters. No flotation devices will be permitted. No training wheels, tricycles or scooters are allowed on the bike leg. All participants must wear a CPSC-approved helmet while riding a bicycle.

Although the 2019 Fourth of July fireworks show is still many months away, the fundraising effort began nearly as soon as the last fireworks shell exploded this year. The goal is to raise money for next year’s fireworks show at Rider University.

Lawrence Township paid for the fireworks show in the past, but budget issues in 2010 forced the cancellation of the show, much to the disappointment of the spectators who filled the lawn on campus to watch it.

That’s when two Lawrence residents – Dana Meth and Harper Collins – suggested the children’s triathlon to then-Superintendent of Recreation Steven Groeger. The first “Red, White and Bang” triathlon was held on Labor Day 2010.

Meth and Collins said at the time that their children participated in similar events in other communities. The women were active runners and also belonged to the Lawrenceville Swimming Association.

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