Back from Rio, NJ’s winning Olympians getting the star treatment
Qualifying for the Olympics in Rio is a feat in itself, but returning with hardware deserves a celebration. At least that's how some New Jersey municipalities feel.
A handful of towns are planning "welcome home" celebrations for their star athletes who managed to grab a medal or two at the 2016 games in Brazil.
Gold and silver medalist Laurie Hernandez will be the star of a motorcade and award ceremony on Saturday in her hometown of Old Bridge.
"We're going through her neighborhood, within 100 yards of her house, and we're winding our way through town, going through as many developments as we can," said Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry. "I'm hoping everyone along the motorcade route will come out, put their flags out, will be out there cheering."
Henry said he couldn't think of a better person than the 16-year-old gymnast to represent the township.
"She's smart, she's dedicated, she's an amazing person," Henry said. "If you want your child to look up to someone, this is the person."
According to Henry, celebration plans have been in the works since Hernandez qualified for the Olympics. Hundreds gathered a couple weeks ago for a send-off event.
The weather looks great and the guest list is growing for a celebration Saturday afternoon at Tarnsfield Swim Club in Westampton. That's where swimming became a lifestyle for 22-year-old Kelsi Worrell.
"Come celebrate Kelsi's Olympic Gold Medal success," a Facebook event reads. "All guest fees for the swim club are waived during the event."
Earlier this month, the swim club was handling back orders of "Team Worrell" shirts for people in the community. It also cleared the pool for to stream Worrell's events live on two giant televisions.
"It's a very exciting summer for everyone involved in the swim club," said Kristen Perkowski, board president for the swim club.
Silver-winning runner Nia Ali may receive an extremely warm welcome when she returns to her hometown of Pleasantville, according to The Press of Atlantic City.
Mayor Jesse Tweedle said "my phone blew up" after Ali's second-place finish on Thursday, which launched the idea for a parade. But Ali currently lives and trains in Los Angeles, Tweedle said.
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