Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 27
 
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
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Rolling Down Nassau: Historical Society Offers Tours of Princeton for Stroller Set

Ellen Gilbert

When Jennifer L. Jang says “Let’s roll!” she’s not kidding.

Last week the Historical Society of Princeton’s (HSP) Curator of Education led a team of eight strollers — including two double-seaters — on a walk through historic downtown Princeton as part of “Stroller Strides,” a new HSP offering intended, in Ms. Jang’s words, “to reach out to young families. It’s a chance to connect with other people while learning something about Princeton’s history.”

Recalling the solitude that can come with caring for a baby, Ms. Jang, whose own children are now five and eight years old, observed that “it’s essential to get out of the house.” Her own experiences with early motherhood makes her highly sympathetic to caregivers who need to stop mid-walk to pick up a fallen pacifier or sippy cup, or even to “peel off” and go their own way if a little one is clearly unhappy.

At last Wednesday’s Stroller Stride, the average age of the young ones in tow was about 15 months. “One can’t know what the littlest people take away from it,” mused Ms. Jang, “but it’s always interesting for adults.” Calm in the face of squished goldfish (the Pepperidge Farm kind) and the challenge of being heard above noisy traffic, she doesn’t take it personally if a child is cranky and, as often happens, “the tiny ones fall asleep.”

With high hopes for her 15-month-old son Kenny, Mary Beth Gilliland set off, declaring that this was “the first of many classes he’ll take in Princeton.” The affable Kenny held fast to his mini-soccer ball as the tour proceeded, and, as the largely content-looking children gazed at one another, it seemed as if the adults were not the only ones networking.

With an average of five strollers following behind, the tour is relatively abbreviated compared to most other HSP offerings, but Ms. Jang’s delivery was as earnest and detailed as any group might receive, with accounts of the history of Bainbridge House (HSP headquarters), the University Chapel, and Nassau Hall. In between picking up books and plying children with baggies of Cheerios, mothers listened attentively. Passers-by smiled at the perambulating parade, and anyone watching had to have been impressed when the group made it across Nassau Street en masse in the space of one green light. A couple of caregivers and their children have returned for a second time, Ms. Jang reported, so she varies the route.

Last week’s tour included mothers who came singly and in pairs from Princeton and Lawrenceville. The tours, which meet at HSP at 10 a.m., run approximately 45 to 60 minutes, and end at Starbucks. Coming tours are scheduled for August 5 and September 2. There are no limits to the number of participants, but pre-registration is required, either by calling (609) 921-6748, or emailing jeanette@princetonhistory.org. The cost is $7 per adult; $5 for members of HSP. Children are free.

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