CRANFORD, NJ — Holly Street came alive on Tuesday, April 4, when it was closed off for Calvary Nursery School and Child Care’s annual Block Party and Ice Cream Social, in celebration of the national “Week of the Young Child.” CNSCC welcomed the staff, children and families of Cranford’s own Helen K. Baldwin Nursery School and St. Michael School’s Early Childhood Program to the event.
The annual Block Party and Ice Cream Social is part of the national celebrations that took place last week across the country, organized by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Cranford’s early childhood community united for a special hands-on event featuring a petting zoo, Bubble Show, a “Celebration of Literacy” obstacle course run by Lauren Antolino, the head of Children’s Services at the Cranford Public Library, and the Cranford Township Police and Fire departments, with their vehicles for the children to explore.
“They call it a Block Party and Ice Cream Social,” said Claire Fiebiger, treasurer of the Calvary Nursery School board for the past 14 years, in an interview with LocalSource on Wednesday, April 5. “They had the ice cream guy there and the kids got to walk into the command vehicle for the police station. They got to climb on the fire truck. They had a bubble machine, too.”
Young children and their families depend upon high-quality education and care, both of which bring lasting benefits to the community. The “Week of the Young Child” is a time to recognize the importance of early learning and early literacy, and to celebrate the teachers and policies that bring early childhood education to young children.
“This is either the 16th or 17th year we’ve done this,” said Fiebiger. “We skipped at least 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
This year’s event got right back into the swing of things.
“They closed down Holly Street by Calvary and set up their cars and stuff,” Fiebiger said. “They closed down that block. There was a petting zoo, which had chicks, goats, a lamb and bunnies.”
“Experts tell us that 90% of all brain development occurs by the age of 5. The experiences our young children encounter during this time shape their future learning and development,” said Stacy Nick, director of CNSCC, in a press release. “This fun event is a great way to recognize the importance of early learning for all young children and to bring Cranford together to recognize those who dedicate their lives to working with them.”
Fiebiger said more than 125 people attended the annual Block Party and Ice Cream Social, an impressive number for an event that only ran from 10 to 11 a.m. She said even Cranford’s mayor, Brian Andrews, was there to enjoy the festivities.
“We know how important early education is for our children and their future success. Cranford is blessed to have engaged and active parents, a number of high-quality early education providers, and a diverse offering of activities and programs to engage young minds,” said Andrews in a press release. “We are grateful for this special week where we can highlight the vital educators who provide essential services for Cranford’s youngest members. I’m proud to join our community in celebrating our children and saluting the dedicated staff who care and educate for them.”
Fiebiger, who’s also a member of Calvary Lutheran Church, said while he was at the event, “The mayor gave us a proclamation,” honoring them for their efforts.
But Nick, who’s been the director of Calvary Nursing School and Child Care for more than 20 years, said recognition wasn’t the reason they sponsor the event year after year.
“We do this to celebrate the early childhood community in Cranford and unite us in a fun-filled event supported by parents, staff and the Cranford Police Department and Fire Department,” she said.
“The weather was beautiful,” said Fieberger, who added, “I want to thank the Cranford Police Department and the Cranford Fire Department for their participation.”
She also praised Cranford’s Police and Fire departments for spending time with the children and making the Block Party and Ice Cream Social a success.
“It’s for the children to get involved with the policeman and fireman and know who they are and get familiar with them – to not be afraid and have some sort of a rapport,” she said.
Photos Courtesy of Calvary Nursery School