Hudson County municipalities hosted the 40th annual National Night Out yesterday to connect the community with first responders through food, games, along with various ways to engage with public safety personnel.
By Daniel Ulloa and John Heinis/Hudson County View
“We do it to bring the neighbors together, keep the people close to the police department, and keep the residents close to each other. This is something we do on a yearly basis with the police community meetings,” state Senator (D-33)/Union City Mayor Brian Stack explained.
“But tonight is a big celebration of the community and the progress we have made as a community. It’s very effective. It’s important to get people out, to get to know who their neighbors are. They come out and celebrate with their neighbors.
The New Jersey Parole Board had a table set up to interact with resident, while the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office ran a toy raffle. The North Hudson Community Action Center also had a table with candy and flyers detailing their services.
Additionally, North Regional Fire & Rescue Department handed out free plastic fire hats and bilingual pamphlets (English and Spanish) detailing fire safety precautions that should be taken. They also passed out a kid’s activity pamphlet with games related to fire safety.
There was a carnival atmosphere in Union City on New York Avenue with the National Night Out festivities.
Along with bounce houses for children, there was a shark ride similar to a bucking bronco and bungee trampolines. There were also carnival games like Cornhole for children to play.
Furthermore, tree popcorn cotton candy, and hotdogs were being given out to those who waited.
In North Bergen, where six separate locations were offered, there was a similar carnival in the streets of Broadway.
The Hudson County Regional SWAT gave tours of their trucks. Inside was an officer in SWAT gear showing their weapons, shields, and helmets to children who they could pose with wearing the helmets.
In North Bergen, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s office gave out coloring books with crayons for children and pamphlets on sexual violence issues and opioids. They were also giving out neon glow sticks made into rings and balloons to children.
The North Bergen Police Benevolent Association (PBA) Local 18 also had a table with coloring books, crayons, swag bags, and water bottles with their insignia for the community.
Several women wearing National Night Out Against Crime 2023 gave an assortment of candy to those who came, mostly to children.
North Bergen was also full of carnival amusements like a castle bounce house, magician in clown makeup performed sleight-of-hand tricks for a large crowd of children who enjoyed his antics. There were also long lines for hot dogs and pretzels.
In addition, Wawa handed out Frisbee and coloring books as prizes for their spin of the wheel game. There was also an ice cream truck on one end of the carnival and officials later raffled off a bike.
Over at Audubon Park in Jersey City, which had four separate locations available, Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey explained why this is an event the city looks forward to.
“National Night Out is a fantastic opportunity for our police department, our public safety, our fire department to really come together and have a really great fun night out with residents in the community,” she began.
“This is really about building relationships and really sort of enforcing the roles of the residents and enforcing their participation with our police department and our public safety.”
She also noted that community organizations and/or leaders receive awards from the PD to recognize their contributions.
The park saw ballon animals, free hot dogs and popcorn, moon bounces, a hair cut station for kids, police and fire vehicles, firefighters showing what tools they would use at the scene of an accident, and so much more.
Over at Arlington Park, children had the opportunity to spray a fire hose, put first responders in cold water via a dunk tank, take a picture with McGruff the Crime Dog, as well as interact with members of the HCPO, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Hudson County Sherriff’s Office.
There, Acting Police Chief Robert Kearns said officers look forward to the evening since it’s an opportunity for the police and the community to get together on a social level.
” … Just a good night for everybody to just get out on a social basis when [first responders] aren’t on calls or official business … it’s nice to just be able to talk to them in a social setting, get to know them.”
In neighboring Hoboken, Public Safety Director Kenneth Ferrante, a former city police chief, called it an “extraordinary night” on Twitter, thanking everyone who was involved.
Extraordinary night at the @CityofHoboken National Night Out 2023 at Church Square Park, presented by the @HobokenPD & @FollowStevens Police Dept. Congratulations to event organizers Lieut @EDrishti , Sgt. C. LaBruno, Officers A. Fesken & W. Oquendo & R. Truupner, Ret. Thank you pic.twitter.com/b5vomopZex
— Chief Ken Ferrante, Ret. (@KenFerrante) August 2, 2023