New Union County spray park hosts ‘night out’ for special needs kids
LINDEN — Postponed once by rain, Union County officials are hoping to pull off a rescheduled "Night Out at Wheeler Spray Park" for children with special needs on Monday, Aug. 5.
The event is sponsored by the county's recently-established Office for Persons With Disabilities & Special Needs, along with the county Board of Freeholders. Freeholder Chris Hudak has been at the forefront of both the office's operations and the planning for this sure-to-be-memorable evening.
"It's not just simply about recreation, but it is about growing a community that can be more supportive of individuals who may have a disability," Hudak said.
Hudak, a lifelong Linden resident, said he recalls spending much time at a formerly county-run pool in the city, which fell into disrepair and hiring challenges, and was essentially replaced by this park on West Stimpson Avenue which opened Memorial Day Weekend. Already, he said, 40,000 unique visitors have taken advantage of all the new destination has to offer — for free.
"It's not just a couple of spray apparatus — there are slides, they've got one of those waterpark-type buckets that fills up and dumps out every few moments. It's a pretty neat facility," Hudak said, taking note of the overall good weather from which the park has benefited this summer.
That, however, was not true last Monday, when the original Night Out was scheduled. So, the county will try again. They are asking prospective participants and their families to pre-register here, so they have a ballpark figure of how many people will be in attendance.
The park has already hosted other non-mainstream events like summer camp trips and movie nights, and hopes to do more.
The Night Out, open to special needs kids age 12 and under, will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 5, following the conclusion of regular weekday park hours at 6 p.m.
Patrick Lavery is Senior Producer of Morning News and Special Programming for New Jersey 101.5, and is lead reporter and substitute anchor for "New Jersey's First News." Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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