10 South Jersey events your teen would rather avoid

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Nicole Chain of Seaville with Alyssa Chain, 14, and Amber Glenn, 14, of Ventnor, purchase a few quarts of strawberries from Stoddard Bixby of Petersburg. Nicole Chain of Seaville with Alyssa Chain, 14, and Amber Glenn, 14, of Ventnor, purchase a few quarts of strawberries from Stoddard Bixby of Petersburg.

Growing up in South Jersey, your parents have more than likely pulled you along to several community events you wouldn’t find anywhere else in the country. Whether you roll your eyes and reluctantly tag along, count the days with undying excitement or maybe do a little of both, there are just some things around here that you can’t live with and can’t live without.

1. Airshows of all kinds

Crowds gather at airshows Crowds gather at airshows

Whether it was planes showing off their tricks, or seriously large kites filling the sky, you’re going to endure a few hours of sitting in the sand with a stiff neck. “Don’t you want to go check out the kites?” your mom asks in a way that leaves room for only one answer. 

2. Some sort of food or music festival

Italian Festival, Barbecue and Blues Festival, Irish Festival, Lima Bean Festival, Strawberry Festival, Blueberry Festival and every-other-kind-of-food-you-can-think-of festival: it seems like there is always another celebration for something you never considered celebrating. However, that won’t stop our parents from dragging us along. Although they can be exciting, there never fails to be an overwhelming amount of people crowded into an overwhelmingly small amount of space. You might be lucky enough to glimpse a friend or two, only to share a longing glance before losing them to the crowd again. Though it may sound like this is a dreaded occasion, the truth is you couldn't wait to go. It’s just a tradition you couldn’t live without.

3. A local concert series

There is absolutely nothing sweeter than a local concert series, while at the same time, there is nothing more uncomfortable. More than likely, your entire family packed into the car with five beach chairs (the lawn chairs of beach people), and found a spot on the grass in a local park to plant your chairs. Here we are at another tribute concert for a musician that your parents absolutely adore, but you’ve probably never heard of. It’s so sweet to see your community gathering for some live music, but then everyone starts to dance. “Oh look it’s your old history teacher dancing down in front.” Thank you, Mom. 

4. Mummers

Some can’t get enough and some have had enough before it even begins. The Mummers Parade is such a controversial spectacle. How many times have you watched your mom or grandma as they were pulled into the street to join the strut? Everyone has that uncle that fell off the back of the Mummers truck and broke a bone. Right?… No? I mean nothing draws a crowd like men and women of all ages dressed in extremely gaudy (and sparkly) costumes, playing instruments and yelling obscure chants. However, bizarre as it may sound, we all line the streets to watch the Mummers in all of their glory.

5. Fireworks

Fireworks along the beach are a right of passage for teens at the Jersey Shore Fireworks along the beach are a right of passage for teens at the Jersey Shore

As locals, it is our responsibility to host every possible family member’s vacation in our very own household. However, it doesn’t stop there. We are also responsible for their happiness. So here you are, holding the hands of two ice-cream covered 5-year-olds, walking the busiest five blocks you’ve ever seen to the boardwalk. Shouldn’t you be avoiding the boardwalk and the crowd that comes with it? Well, the kids have to see the fireworks! Of course, silly me. What was I thinking, avoiding large crowds of strangers? So you make it to the boardwalk, trying not to lose sight of your little cousins, and you do your best to enjoy the fireworks. Of course your cousins aren’t paying attention to the display that you’ve just walked through fire and brimstone to enjoy, but as you’re watching those little ones hang over the railing, you realize that you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. 

6. Christmas parades

Everyone goes to the Christmas parade. This isn’t even something that you’re necessarily forced to go to around here, but it’s definitely something to look forward to. Of course it can get a little old watching fire truck after fire truck pass by covered in Christmas lights with their sirens wailing. Sure it's 15 degrees, and you’re huddled up with friends and family to supply minimal heat, but that’s what’s so cool about it. The community is celebrating together. Even people who don’t celebrate Christmas come to watch all of the local heroes pass by. 

7. National Night Out

What an interesting idea. For one night each year on the first Tuesday in August, the whole community gathers in a specific field and participates in various activities, sponsored mostly by their local police department. Although it differs with each community, we can all agree that it was something you needed to attend. This is one of those events that stresses “family” so much that you’re practically guilted into attending. Hot dogs, vendors, outdoor games, live music, a movie for the family to enjoy, oh and a fire safety exhibit. You can’t help but roll your eyes when it comes to this national event, but try as you might, you’ll never allow yourself to skip it. 

8. Instrumentals

Around here, musical demonstrations will accompany almost every event that we’re graced with. The tribute concerts aren’t the hardest thing to deal with. At least you can try to sing along. However, once you’re watching musical presentations that feature only instruments, the game is changed. College has recently rescued me from the annual collaboration of bagpipes down the street. However, no matter where you live, you’ll hear the distant beating of drums as the marching bands practice for their competition. It’s just inevitable.

9. Specialty Parades

I mean like REALLY special parades. Have you ever seen a “baby parade?” What about a parade just for patriotically-dressed dogs? There’s absolutely no stopping the excessive parades in South Jersey. These parades, taking place at ungodly hours of the day, will have you shaking your head the entire time. Who would of thought that you could create an entire parade around babies? Somehow though, it works. You find yourself telling your aunt later that day all about the yellow lab dressed as Uncle Sam. 

10. Tree-lighting ceremonies

Quaint tree-lighting ceremonies are parental favorites Quaint tree-lighting ceremonies are parental favorites

Many communities in South Jersey hold tree-lighting ceremonies to start the holiday season. These are usually complete with performances by local musicians, local elementary schools, local gymnasts and any other trace of talent sprinkled throughout the community. After about two hours of entertainment, the tree is lit. Somehow, with everything going on, you managed to see about seven grade-school teachers, three neighbors, about 100 acquaintances. There is nothing like an event like this to make you seriously proud of the community you belong to. 

Current Newspaper intern Jordan Montgomery of Wildwood is a journalism student at West Virginia University. 

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