Cranbury Day highlights more than just the community

People pack Main Street on Cranbury Day in Cranbury on Sept. 7.
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People pack Main Street on Cranbury Day in Cranbury on Sept. 7.

Cranbury Day has been bringing together the community for more than 30 years.

Those who attended the annual tradition in 2019 agreed that the day was full of enjoyment with businesses, non-profits, civic organizations, music and food lined up on Main Street in downtown.

“Cranbury Day means community. It is everything that Cranbury is,” Cranbury Committeeman Dan Mulligan declared. “We invite everyone to come to our day and enjoy and explore this unique community that we have.”

He expressed his feelings that he looks forward to this day as a resident, parent and elected official, each year.

“I love doing Cranbury Day. I loved it before I was an elected official and I will continue to come here after I am not in office,” he said. “I hope people understand how wonderful, beautiful and unique Cranbury is. We are unlike any other community around.”

The day returned its signature favorite the Mummers Parade. The Mummers are believed to be the oldest folk festival parade in the United States. Dressed in elaborate garb, the group is most-known for its annual New Year’s Day parade in Philadelphia. With a mixture of cultures from Swedish, Irish, English, Finnish, European and German backgrounds, the Mummers marched on Main Street to begin the day’s earlier festivities.

Organized by the Cranbury Business Association (CBA) and made possible this year by the work of Christine Thompson, Frank Marlowe and Julianna Lako, Cranbury Day featured attractions like most years before. Live music was preformed throughout the day by Ed Goldberg and Odessa Klezmer Band, Lenox Underground Foundation, Big Country and FPG, Tone Rangers and After Hours.

Janice Mondoker, who has attended Cranbury Day for more than 25 years, said the best part is seeing all of these people together.

“You get to see people that you may only see once or twice a year at a meeting,” Mondoker said. “I opened a business in Cranbury in 1991 and loved this place so much, I moved here. I have been to almost every Cranbury Day since.”

She exlained that the day is not only important for the residents and the town, but the businesses, as well.

“People out of the area can see what is available here. It is important to keep the businesses here on Main Street, so Cranbury thrives,” she said.

Cranbury Day had more than 80 vendors on hand at the event, according to officials.

“This is a place to meet. Your neighbors and children get to enjoy themselves as they walk through the street on Cranbury Day,” Thompson said. “This day allows the businesses to show themselves off a little bit and people learn a little more about the town that they may not have know about.”

She said when you have a new vendor or a band, they bring their followers, which brings in new people to the town each year.

“We start preparing for this day in the spring,” Thompson said. “I hope people enjoy the day and realize there it is a lot of work to put this on. We would love to have more volunteers in future years.”

Cranbury resident Josh Kohut has been coming to every Cranbury Day since he moved to town.

“Today, there is a great buzz. The weather is fantastic and it is great to be out here,” he said. “This is a great identity for Cranbury, this is what we are all about. The vibe of this place keeps bringing me back.”

Cranbury Day is not just about amusements, the Cranbury Lions Club’s annual duck race or food. The day allows organizations such as TEAM T.A.S.K. (Trenton Area Soup Kitchen) and Urban Promise to receive aid in their effort to help others. T.A.S.K.’s primary mission is to provide meals to those who are hungry.

While, Urban Promise, an organization from Trenton, provides free after school and summer camp programs that prepare disadvantaged inner-city children for the real world through spiritual, personal, physical and educational development.

“Today, Maggie [Hoffman] and I are raising money for the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen and Urban Promise through a corn hole game and ring toss game. The games are $3 for three tosses each game,” said Charlie Vachris, a student member of TEAM T.A.S.K. “Our goal is to raise as much money as we can for these two great organizations.”

Maggie Hoffman, who is a student at the Cranbury School with Charlie, said this is the first year Urban Promise has been at Cranbury Day.

“I am really enjoying being out here and helping raise money for the organizations. I know I will be able to help so many children,” Maggie said. “Urban Promise’s goal is to get children to reading level, because only 30% of children in Trenton read at grade level. I hope to raise enough money to help buy new books and help the children improve their skills.”