HIGHLANDS — Last year, an all-day event called ParkFest showcased this borough's beautiful and vibrant communities, teeming with live music and other forms of art and expression.

The COVID-19 pandemic is preventing such a day from happening again exactly as it did in 2019, but ParkFest 2020 is still going to be held. It's simply moving online.

After partnering with Project Matters and the Plastic Wave Project last year, the borough is directing its fundraising efforts for this virtual ParkFest to the United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, and Heartstrings, a program meant to bring the healing power of music to economically disadvantaged or potentially at-risk portions of the population.

Matthew Fernicola, vice president of Telegraph Hill Records, which is one of the event's presenters, said the online activities begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 16. There will be fitness classes taught early in the day, then a succession of musical acts performing live, capped off by an afterparty from 10 p.m. to midnight.

"People can tune in from their homes and do some yoga from their rooms, or do some fitness and watch some music," Fernicola said. "There's going to be cooking shows, and there's going to be bedtime stories for the kids at night, and then of course a whole lot of music."

While there won't be anybody doing paintings or manning food trucks, as with the 2019 edition, Fernicola hopes the spirit of ParkFest will remain.

"It's a free event, you just turn on your computer and you can watch as much as you want, you can feel free to check in and check out throughout the day," he said.

Potential donations would help the United Way accrue recovery funds to help local residents impacted financially by COVID-19, making resources more easily available both now and in the future. For Heartstrings, the goal is to raise enough money to bring a virtual music program to Highlands sometime this summer.

Fernicola said donors will get on-screen shoutouts when they contribute to ParkFest.

To find out more, visit the ParkFest 2020 event page on Facebook. Or, you can make donations directly to United Way or Heartstrings.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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