In the tale of the Tortoise and the Hare, slow and steady wins the race. And so it is with the State's Move-Over Law, which requires motorists to move over and slow down for emergency vehicles with flashing lights.
This message will be incorporated into Popcorn Park Zoo's new habitat for box turtles, which will be unveiled and dedicated in honor of fallen Trooper Marc Castellano on Saturday, June 2 at 10 a.m.
Castellano died of injuries he sustained when he was struck by a vehicle while searching for a suspect in 2010. His mother, Donna Setaro of Lacey, has made it her mission to promote the State’s Move-Over Law.
“The turtle habitat is in memory of my son and dedicated to the men and women protected by the State’s Move-Over Law,” she said.
The purpose of the turtle habitat is two-fold, Setaro said. “We wanted to adopt the turtles. My son loved turtles.”
Second, turtles are known as slow moving animals, which Setaro thought could be incorporated since the law promotes drivers to slow down, she said.
“There are a lot of people who like the Popcorn Park Zoo,” she said, which convinced her that people would be interested in financing the new habitat.
So far approximately $4,000 has been raised, she said, and the school district did their part.
The Lacey Township High School’s EMS club raised $500 for the project by holding a hat day and a lunch with Ninja Turtles as well as selling turtle stickers and cutouts. There was also a turtle wall, where students signed paper turtles pledging to move over and slow down.
“With the Emergency Medical Services Club, basically the kids are involved in police, fire and EMS,” Club Adviser Renee Gurgacz said. “We’re always trying to educate students and members of the community of public safety and one of our biggest campaigns is safe driving.”
The club members were proud to spread the message and will be at the dedication on Saturday to continue their efforts in education and awareness, she said.
“We’re going to help spread the whole message—slow down, move over, drive safe,” Gurgacz said. “(The students) want to see the turtles get released into their new habitat and see that their hard work paid off.”
The Lacey Middle School’s Builders Club also raised funds by selling slushies, turtle cutouts and they had a jean day.
The new habitat will continue the education and awareness process, Setaro said. Next week, on the second anniversary of Castellano’s death, new Public Service Announcements and commercials will be released.
“We’re just bringing education to the next level,” she said.
Popcorn Park Zoo has approximately 50 box turtles, which are just coming out of hibernation, Setaro said.
The zoo selected an area to be renovated for the box turtles with a circulating water pond and natural plants.
“We redid the whole area so it feels like a real good habitat for (the box turtles),” Popcorn Park Manager John Bergmann said.
The area is also larger than the previous habitat and more visual for customers, Setaro said.
“It’s in a position now where you can walk in and you’ll really see the box turtles,” she said.
Having the second turtle habitat will allow Popcorn Park to separate the male and females to prevent any breeding in the future, Bergmann said.
The new habitat will feature a dedication plaque for Castellano, a sign that says, “Slow down, move over” along with the law’s designated website, a backdrop of Cedar Creek and a turtle statue.
Bergmann called the new habitat the “perfect marriage” between the State Move-Over Law and Popcorn Park’s box turtles.
“Hopefully it will save more lives,” he said.
A ribbon cutting and unveiling of the new habitat will be held on Saturday, June 2 at 10 a.m. Refreshments will be sold and there will be a tent with information on the Move-Over Law.
To donate to the cause, all checks should be made out to Popcorn Park. The envelope or face of the check should include Move Over Project or Turtle Project. All checks are tax deductable and can be sent to Popcorn Park Zoo, Humane Way at Lacey Road, P.O. Box 43, Forked River, NJ 08731.