Every August, the South Orange population expands by thousands as students move in for the school year and every May, thousands of people move out as students go home for the summer.
However, during the summer, South Orange hosts the South Orange Summer Nights series which features programs such as “Art in the Park,” “Taste the Music: Concerts in the Park” and “Movies in the Park,” according to the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) website.
All summer long on Wednesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. there are arts and crafts in the park and when the evenings get longer, concerts take center stage with free outdoor performances complete with food trucks. In August, “Movies in the Park” brings people together to watch moonlit movies under the stars.
According to the SOPAC website, vendors provide food and beverages, including lobster rolls and barbecue ribs, wood-fired pizza, pretzels, hot dogs, deepfried Oreos and funnel cake.
Dee Billia, the director of external relations at SOPAC, said the South Orange Summer Nights series is fun for the entire town.
The South Orange Summer Nights series is co-presented by the Village of South Orange, the Baird, and SOPAC.
Peter Travers, the Deputy Director of Recreation and Special Events, said that the summer nights program is a high energy community event that enhances the community feeling.
“You can see adults socializing while their kids run and play on the hill,” he said. “The series promotes South Orange as an arts community which is an essential part to the vibrancy of the community.”
Travers said the concerts feature songs from Motown to 90s to 80s music.
The summer nights program first began about 20 years ago and has become a constant that helps promote the vibrant South Orange community, Travers added.
The South Orange Summer Nights series is a part of the cultural programming that South Orange is committed to.
“It promotes diversity, the arts, and our community,” Travers said. “We are unique and this is something that we will always strive to be.”
However, some Seton Hall students who stay in South Orange for the summer have never heard of the program.
“I haven’t heard of these events, but I would be really interested in engaging with other individuals in the South Orange community,” said Zachariah Boyer, a senior political science major. “This is something that South Orange and SGA’s Village Relations committee should be working to promote.”
Senior psychology major Abigail Gunther, on the other hand, heard of the summer nights program but never attended.
“I might be interested in going depending on what’s playing,” she said. “I’ve seen musicians around over the summer and always stop for a bit.”
Rebecca White can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.