HAMMONTON – Temperatures hovered in the 70s and an even cooler breeze fanned walkers last Friday during the launch of the 1-mile Blueberry Walking Trail.
The trail was a combined effort between Stockton University’s Kramer Hall, AtlantiCare and the Town of Hammonton.
It begins and ends at the Town of Hammonton & Stockton University Park located on the corner of Bellevue Avenue and Front Street. The trail continues down Front Street past Kramer Hall to Line Street. A left turn leads walkers to Egg Harbor Road, and a quick right down Grape Street continues the trail through residential neighborhoods.
After making a left on Third Street, walkers pass St. Joseph High School, where they make a right turn on Vine Street. The trail continues through the Hammonton Lions Leo Park and Veterans Memorial Park, and the final stretch goes through the downtown area along Bellevue Avenue. The entire route has sidewalks and there are several benches along the trail.
“The town is just a perfect backdrop for a scenic walk on your lunchtime or after work. We invite the community to make this their first step toward fitness and to take advantage of the lush vegetation and beautiful architecture along the way and just enjoy a quiet meditative walk through town,” said Eileen Conran-Folks, director for Stockton University’s Hammonton and Manahawkin instructional sites.
“The walking trail was originally discussed when our students from Kramer Hall were surveyed and expressed that they had an interest in fitness,” said Gina Petrillo, program coordinator at Kramer Hall. “What better way to engage our students and the community together to enjoy the historic town of Hammonton while getting fit?”
“Guidelines are that we should be physically active 150 minutes per week,” said Alysia Mastrangelo, professor of physical therapy at Stockton University. “We need to get out and get moving for our health and well-being.”
Walkers gathered at the pavilion on Front Street for a short ceremony to celebrate the launch of the 1-Mile Blueberry Walking Trail. Jeff Attenbrunn and Alison Strittmatter of AtlantiCare LifeCenter in Egg Harbor Township led the group in stretching exercises. They encouraged walkers to warm up, then stretch, and then walk to avoid injury.
First, they practiced the motion of jumping rope. Then they did jumping jacks, shoulder rolls, neck rolls and torso twists. Finally they stretched their legs and set out on the walk, which takes about 30 minutes for the average walker to complete.
The trail is simple enough for beginners to enjoy, said Strittmatter.
“This is wonderful. It’s such a beautiful day, and the walk is gorgeous,” said Olivia Bellano of Hammonton, who plans to make the trail a part of her walking routine.
Lisa Tucker of Hammonton leads a community walking group and plans to integrate the Blueberry Walking Trail into their route. “It’s nice to walk through town,” she said.
Passive games such as bocce ball, corn hole and ladder ball will be available for play along the Front Street stretch of the trail in the spring. The game equipment will be signed out at the Kramer Hall front information desk.
Walkers enjoyed healthy refreshments, including cucumber water, fruit, blueberry smoothies from Casciano Coffee Bar and Sweetery and honey sticks from Chatter’s Baskets. Stockton University offered free water bottles, and AtlantiCare handed out free pedometers.
The creation of the trail kicked off a Don’t Trash Our Town Campaign by Stockton University. The goal of the campaign, which includes signage and trash receptacles, is to encourage the community not to litter, said Conran-Folks. Also, a new sign on the pavilion at Front Street and Bellevue Avenue was dedicated, naming the property The Town of Hammonton & Stockton University Park.