FIREHOUSE COLORING BOOK TO LIGHT UP FAIR

Lisa Toohey at the writing desk in which she created her coloring book about the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair, below.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

For Lisa Toohey and her nine-year-old son, Jake, the annual Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair is a captivating marvel of sights, sounds and aromas that never gets old.

“It’s like, a big deal for us,” says Toohey, who used to take off from her Wall Street job the week of the fair so she and Jake could go nightly. “It’s really one of our favorite things about living in Fair Haven.”

But less apparent to a child than the swirling lights and colors is all the work that volunteers put into making the event happen, and that was something Toohey said she wanted her son and other children to appreciate.

Toohey thinks she’s found a way to impart that lesson. When the fair opens tonight, the fruit of her desire will be available to all in the form of a 56-page coloring book that she created as a fair keepsake.

A Lincroft native, Toohey studied at the Art Institute of Philadelphia before putting aside her pens and brushes for what turned out to be an 18-year career in finance. She moved to Fair Haven in 2003 and two years ago left Wall Street to devote herself to being a single mother, she said.

The idea for the coloring book came to her several years ago, and last year, she and Jake spent much of the fair taking photos that Toohey knew she would need if she were to create the drawings.

Still, there was trepidation. At 46 years old, “I hadn’t drawn in 25 years,” she told redbankgreen. “I wasn’t sure I could anymore.”

But she pitched the idea to the fire department, which she wanted to be the beneficiary of the book’s sales, and got the green light. Over the winter, seated at a faux-antique writing desk, Toohey completed dozens of drawings in marker, capturing on paper many of the sights of the fair, with particular attention to the rides.

The resulting drawings range from simple to more complex to engage a wide range of coloring skills, she said. And “it’s more than just a coloring book,” Toohey said. “It’s designed as a story.”

The finished product also includes word games and fun facts related to the fair.

With design help from neighbor Beth Sillen, Toohey had the book printed at her own expense, for which she is to be reimbursed. Otherwise, all  proceeds go to the fire department, Toohey said.

The book will be available at the fair for $5. River Road Books plans to stock it year-round and sell it for $6.

The fair runs nightly through September 1 except for Sunday, when it is closed.