Both young and old came out to the Whiting Town Center in Manchester on Sunday to enjoy live jazz music, food, pony rides, face painting, a petting zoo and a special performance of excerpts from the show, "Rent," performed by The Studio Stage theater company located in the shopping center.
"It's a beautiful day, music is here, it's great to get out," said Marie Hall, a resident of the Whiting section of the township since 2000. "I love music, I like plays. You get in a rut when you get older. This is fun."
Hall and a friend from out of town were among about 100 people watching The Daniel Bennett Group perform jazz selections during the first Oktoberfest at the shopping center.
Nearby the music stage was an inflatable house, where young children had fun jumping and bouncing. Next to that, children were being led on pony rides and others enjoyed a petting zoo featuring a couple of goats, a sheep and some chickens. Many brought their dogs to the event in costume -- one little dog named, Bridget, was dressed as a bumble bee.
Inside the Studio Stage, Marianne of Bob and Marianne in the Morning on WOBM, led a game of bingo. On the sidewalks of the shopping center, a Girl Scout troop sold cupcakes, there were informational displays and several of the restaurants gave out free samples of menu selections.
Donna Cavallo of Whiting was at the face painting table with her children.
"We love it. We did the bouncy house, rode the pony and are enjoying face painting," she said. "Next is funnel cake, all with jazz music in the background. It's very enjoyable."
Both Cavallo and Hall agreed they would like to see more of these type of activities in town.
Michael Grande, artistic director at The Studio Stage Theatre and manager of Oktoberfest, said the idea behind the event was to increase community events and also show the shopping center is thriving.
The Studio Stage Theatre was hired by AAM Management, the plaza's landlord, to run the event.
The theater company will have a full presentation of Rent on October 26, 27 and 28, with performances at 2 and 6 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance by phone at 732-350-2320 or online at www.thestudiostage.com.