Decked out in Hawaiian leis and bristling with energy, more than 70 Cranford children gathered with their parents in the audio-visual room of the Thursday night to officially say "aloha" to the 2011 Summer Playground Program.
Led by Playground Program Coordinator Andrea Krenek, the event was the culmination of a six-week program that included daytime recreation programs at four local parks: Mohawk Park, Brookside, Lincoln and Orange Avenue School. Playground loyalty and lighthearted rivalries were evident throughout the event, as a team of green-clad playground staff members presented awards to the children in their respective camps. But they weren't just ordinary awards.
Children were presented certificates for individual achievements or traits that made them unique. Categories included: Most Gadgets, the Most Mischievous award, Most Likely to be Australian award, the Most Likely to Brag About My Dad award, Best Big Sister, Justin Bieber Fan Club award, Tightest Family, the Can I Have My Prize award, Most Resilient and the Most Likely to Feed the Mohawk River Monster With Kickballs award, to name just a few.
Children cheered loudly for their playgrounds, especially when Krenek asked the audience, "So, did we all have a good summer so far?" But perhaps the loudest cheering came when the playground kickball rivalries were brought up, and again when Krenek mentioned that treats awaited the kids at the end of the awards ceremony.
Krenek also named the playground at Brookside School as the program's official "Playground Camp of the Year."
Parents who attended the event said the camps were well-run and their children enjoyed attending the playground programs every summer.
"They love the camp," said Carolyn Kube of her childrens' experience with the program. "They always had something to do and the counselors kept all of the kids involved."
Seven-year-old Ava Tessitore, who won the Most Resilient award for the number of times she was knocked down during a game and still got back up and kept playing, said her favorite part of the program was the arts and crafts.
"I liked it because it was fun," she said.