SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ –  Residents flocked to South Plainfield’s first annual National Night Out this past Tuesday evening at Veteran’s Park.   The event had the feel of a full-fledged fair with music, vendors, a bounce-house and games for children.  Approximately two hundred residents attended the event.

South Plainfield joined communities across the nation to develop a better understanding of their town’s fire, rescue and law enforcement units. It is a special night for community members to stand together to promote awareness in a positive, welcoming setting. National Night Out involves over 37.8 million people and 16,124 communities from all 40 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide.

South Plainfield’s first National Night Out was spearheaded by the Public Celebrations Committee. Debbie Leporino was Chairwoman of the event and Karen Hurst, and her daughter, Danielle, were instrumental in organizing the nonprofit vendors. Chairwoman Leporino said “this was our community’s first year having this event and we are pleased with the response we received from the residents. As a team, we all worked together to make National Night Out a success.”

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Public Celebrations liaison Councilman Bobby Richkus stated he was very thankful for the support from the Mayor and Council, as well as the contributions from the Cultural Arts Commission and the Celebrations Committee.  Richkus also thanked the Recreation Department, Bobby Capparelli and the Department of Public Works. Richkus said “National Night Out to me is about families and children having fun in an alcohol, tobacco and drug free environment.  It is an event in which we can showcase our special services and our nonprofit organizations and I am looking forward to this event growing a little each and every year."

The Pepsi Company of Piscataway donated all of the soda and iced tea for the evening, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence donated back packs and carry bags. There were baked goods, as well as t-shirts, jewelry, raffles and other merchandise for sale by the not-for-profit organizations.  The NFP’s attended were SPHS Tiger Wrestling,South Plainfield Eagles, South Plainfield Elks, SPHS Music Boosters, South Plainfield Cultural Arts, South Plainfield EMS, South Plainfield Volunteer Fire Department and the South Plainfield Police Department.

The South Plainfield Alliance for Substance Awareness coordinator Kelly Richkus contributed financial support for this event. South Plainfield Police Department, Chief James Parker, South Plainfield Fire Department, Chief Tom Scalera, South Plainfield Rescue Squad and Deputy Chief Johnathan Schurr were instrumental in securing donations which made this possible.

“Tonight was a great night out for South Plainfield.  It gives the emergency services of South Plainfield an opportunity to show the residents the tools that are used to keep South Plainfield safe,” said South Plainfield Police Chief Parker.

Editor’s Note: Bobby Richkus and Debbie Leporino as well as the TAP staff contributed to this article.