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Cops Dunked, Wall Climbed, Bands Played On at Point Boro's Summerfest

Kids enjoyed inflatable rides, climbing wall and treats

One by one, the girls and boys took turns trying to throw the ball, hit the bulls-eye and dunk a cop.

A few managed to hit their mark, making the trap door under Police Officer Josh Gunnell snap open, dropping him like an anchor.

Gunnell lifted himself back up onto the seat. But he made it clear he wasn't comfortable in his perch, overlooking the throngs streaming into Community Park for Summerfest on Saturday afternoon.

"I'm cold," Gunnell said, just in case anyone thought the water in the tub beneath him had been artificially heated or that the steel-gray sky was warming him up as he sat in a bathing suit and undershirt, shivering.

First he went down a bunch of times, soon followed by his replacement, Officer Chris Phillips.

Lt. Michael Colwell was snapping photos as the guys dropped.

"No, I don't want to make them go under, I don't want to do that to them," he said, declining to toss a mischievous ball.

Someone else watching didn't share that hang-up.

Retired Police Lt. Michael Whittles was just waiting for the right moment as he watched the kids throw the balls.

Sure, it was fun watching the guys drop. After all, before he retired two years ago, these boys were two of his subordinates. But it wasn't quite good enough.

Just when there was a break in the line of boys and girls waiting to hit the mark, Whittles finally had his chance.

He walked up to the bulls-eye, karate-chopped it with the side of his hand, and boom, Phillips was a goner.

How did that feel?

"Very good," said Whittles, grinning ear-to-ear, as Phillips, shivering and shaking water off him, scrambled to get back up onto the seat.

That same smile was plastered on the face of Brave Haugh Senerica, 5, who also managed to dunk Phillips.

When asked how it was to make a police officer drop like a rock into cold water, Brave grinned and said, "Fun."

How did you get so good at throwing?

"I practiced," Brave said, still smiling.

The dunk tank was just one of many attractions at Summerfest, which has been held for 21 years in the borough.

Turns out the dunk tank wasn't at the annual fair just because retired shift commanders like reminding the younger cops who's boss.

The nominal fee for the privilege of trying to dunk some of New Jersey's finest was also a fundraiser for the Special Olympics.

"I was liaison to the Special Olympics and now Josh has taken it over," explained Whittles. "I'm glad to see them take this over. It's such a good cause."

Whittles said that next week there is a torch run from Island Beach State Park into the borough and then into Point Pleasant Beach, as part of a Special Olympics fundraiser.

"New Jersey law enforcement is one of the largest fundraisers for Special Olympics in the world," Whittles said.

Other crowd magnets at Summerfest were the food, climbing wall, inflatable rides and vendors selling everything from homemade iced tea, handmade jewelry and hats to soaps, doll clothes and stained glass.

Visitors also seemed to like entertainment like Baltimore-based band Purple Empress, featuring lead singer Katie Scala, whose rich, powerful voice easily handled songs originally recorded by rockers Melissa Etheridge, Alanis Morrissette, the Black Crowes, Lady Ga-Ga and others.

"That's my niece," said Chamber of Commerce Director Eileen McCabe proudly.

Turns out this is just Scala's part-time gig, when she's not busy working as a registered nurse at John Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore. She was joined on stage by drummer Mosno and lead guitarist Joe Scala, her husband.

McCabe said all bands played for free at the event.

This is the first year it was in the park, instead of on Bridge Avenue, and the first time alcoholic beverages were sold.

Mary Gunsiorowski June 05, 2011 at 05:03 AM
A really great day and wonderful venue. Congratulations to the organizers.
Lisa Frankenfeld June 05, 2011 at 11:38 AM
We had a great time at Summerfest. I like it better in the park.
Ray Soehngen June 06, 2011 at 12:02 AM
On behalf of the Point Pleasant Chamber of Commerce I would like to thank everyone for their support and participation in yesterday's very successful event.
Kathy Fencik June 06, 2011 at 11:59 AM
Thank you to the members of the Chamber of Commerce who worked many volunteer hours to plan and organize the event. Great Job Everyone!!!

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