A Very Special Turtle Back Zoo Trip

Friendship Day at the Turtle Back Zoo

Submitted by Kristina Petti

The annual Friendship Day at the Turtle Back Zoo was held Monday, October 2nd, 2023. This is a collaborative event hosted by the East Central and North Central Elks Lodges. 

It was a perfect fall day for participants to walk around the park and learn about the animals on display while enjoying activities, games, a DJ, and face painting sponsored by Elks from the North Central District.

Elks from the East Central District, with Lodges in Stirling, Summit, Mountainside, Springfield, Cranford, Union, and Rahway, provided, prepared, and served 1,200 hot dog meals to hungry visitors.

The Elks’ sponsorship of the event provided a fun and educational day out for students from the following special education programs in Rahway: Preschool Disability, Multiple Disability, Autism, and Daisy.

Michelle Perez, one of the MD teachers at Roosevelt Elementary School organized the day, along with Roosevelt’s very own recent retiree Donna Fidecaro, who was the point person from the Elks. Their collaboration and close attention to detail made the day special for all who attended. 

The day began with all students receiving matching shirts designed by special education teacher Lindsay DeNigris and paid for by the Rahway Elks Special Children’s Committee. 

Highlights of the day by Colleen Kurdyla:

  • Students were surprised to see a cheetah and dog share a habitat.
  • Watching the penguins getting fed.
  • The monkeys were very busy playing and swinging all around.
  • The prairie dog exhibit had an area where students could stick their heads in a clear dome and be face-to-face with a prairie dog.
  • Watching the sea lions swim underwater, splash, and dive was fun for all.
  • Everyone’s favorite was the train ride.

The students and staff are so grateful to the Elks for hosting this wonderful event for our students. It was a day of fun, laughter, and learning for everyone involved.

If you are interested in learning more about our organization or becoming a member, please visit our website rahwayelks.org and follow us on Facebook: Rahway Elks #1075. To become a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks you must be 21 or over, an American citizen, and believe in god.

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