Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 40
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
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“Slammin’ Super Saturday” at JWMS Provides a Coney Island “Ton of Fun”

Dilshanie Perera

Princeton’s version of Coney Island, complete with carnival games, gigantic inflatable rides, and structures upon which to play, took shape at the “Slammin’ Super Saturday Carnival” at John Witherspoon Middle School last weekend. Proceeds from the celebration go to fund the yearly environmental field trip, which is a free overnight program for all sixth-graders.

The festivities felt like a carnival on every sensory front. In sharp contrast to the grayness of the rainy day outside, the entire event was a whirl of colors, the smells of cotton candy and popcorn pervaded the air, and the delighted laughter of hundreds of children could be heard.

Young people and adults operated the various booths that offered a chance to make photographic mementoes, test one’s strength, and use a keen sense of hand-eye to knock down objects. DJs managed the music, while parents looking alternately overwhelmed and amused stood on the sidelines, watching their children scale inflatable mountains, or bounce around on the moonwalk.

As for the kids themselves, they were having “a blast,” said Lauren Ullman, an eighth-grader at the middle school, who was accompanied by her friends Charlotte Gray, Rachel Gilmore, Byrne Fahey, and Hannah Gutierrez. Reporting that the giant inflatable rides were the best, the girls spoke animatedly about getting to race each other on the gravity-defying inflatable obstacle course in the school’s new gymnasium.

The five friends elaborated upon school, as well as past carnival-related experiences, and agreed that eighth grade involves “learning a lot” but is simultaneously “fun.”

Since last year’s celebration was cancelled because of rain, and “the one when we were in 6th grade was outdoors”, Lauren said, “we were surprised this year” to find that the celebration was happening inside. They approved of the way Super Saturday brought together the new and old gymnasiums, the atrium linking the wings of the school, and a number of the hallways.

As for their own experience with the sixth-grade ecological field trip, the girls have fond memories of it. They went to a camp near the Kittatinny Ridge, reported Charlotte, and “learned about the environment, and went to a swamp,” said Byrne.

Co-chairs of the event, Roxanne List and Martha Land, who each have children currently attending the elementary schools, middle school, and high school, were similarly pleased by the day’s proceedings. Ms. List reported that Super Saturday has been around for about 30 years, but it was two years ago that they decided to make it into more of a carnival, “with real rides and everything.”

The J. Seward Johnson Charitable Trust will match the funds raised at the event to assist with the environmental field trip, Ms. List noted, adding that they are expecting to make $10,000 at this year’s carnival.

“It actually works to our advantage to have the carnival inside” said Ms. Land, who observed that in the gymnasium spaces the “rides are visually very attractive.”

They both anticipated more than 1,000 attendees by the end of the day. “It’s a big undertaking,” said Ms. List of organizing the event, “but it’s worth the effort.”

Above all, agreed Lauren and her friends, the day was “a ton of fun.”

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