10/17/2011 8:00 AM
Local School Music Program, Police Officer Memorial and Fire House Among This Year’s Beneficiaries
READINGTON, NJ --- Maintaining its belief in “doing well by doing good,” the Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in Association with PNC has now raised $2 million for dozens of local charities, non-profit groups and children’s hospitals.
This past summer’s hugely successful event pushed the Festival past this fundraising milestone, an activity that started in 1993 when current Festival Executive Producer Howard Freeman took over the annual event at Solberg Airport.
“In these challenging economic times, the Festival has proven to be a leading fundraiser for many local organizations through either direct contributions or through their volunteering to help us put on the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America,” said Freeman. “These volunteers go a long way to our being the best event of its kind. We’re very happy to help out and be a part of our community each and every year.”
Volunteer groups include local schools, volunteer fire departments and ambulance corps, as well as the Children’s Miracle Network specialized hospitals including The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children's Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. The Festival is held annually the last weekend of July, attracting 165,000 attendees.
One group with long ties to the Festival is the Somerville High School Music Boosters Association, a parent support group whose objectives are to promote and support the music programs at Somerville High School. This includes helping pay for equipment, music and trips and sponsoring scholarships for graduating music students.
The boosters have volunteered at the Festival for more than a dozen years. At this year’s Festival in July, parents and students helped oversee the popular children’s amusement rides during the three day weekend. As a result of their efforts, the boosters received donations to pay for new uniforms for the color guard, which comprises the visual element of the marching band’s show; and equipment including risers that the various ensembles will utilize this year and into the future.
The Festival also helped with donations and continued awareness of the Remember H. Scott Oldenburg Foundation, a non-profit organization formed in honor of Scott Oldenburg, a police lieutenant with the Readington Township Police Department. The Flemington native passed away from pancreatic cancer in September 2007 at the age of 42.
A 22-year member of the department, Oldenburg was one of the original members of the Hunterdon County SWAT Team and was active with the Delaware Valley recreational football and lacrosse teams. Survived by his wife and two sons, his foundation was created to continue his efforts to give to the community and to raise public awareness about the prevention, detection and treatment of pancreatic cancer.
The organization manned one of the food tents at this year’s Festival. The foundation’s next fundraiser is the 2nd Annual Purple Stride New Jersey 5K walk/run on November 6, 2011 benefiting the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
Another organization with a long history with the Festival is Whitehouse Volunteer Fire Company #1, which started staffing the Festival parking lots in 1993. The company has received generous donations from the Festival and PNC over the years in return for directing the parking in one of the Festival’s 30 acre lots and for selling tickets at the main gates. This year’s contributions will offset general operational costs for the department.
For additional information about the 2012 Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in Association with PNC, July 27-29, including how your organization can get involved, please visit www.balloonfestival.com.