BLOOMFIELD, NJ - The fourth annual back-to-school block party at Millbank Park included first responders, a DJ, pizza, and a backpack giveaway for Bloomfield students.
Council member Carlos Bernard organized the first block party with Bloomfield Police Sergeant Naomi Zepeda four years ago. Bernard, who is not seeking re-election this year, told the crowd "even after I am gone, it will continue." He credited the involvement of other council members and the support of the mayor for its future continuation. He gave recognition to Sara Friedman Cruz, who is running for the Third Ward seat, for being a part of the continuation of the event in the future.
Cruz told those gathered that "I'm looking forward to talking to the people, and I'm very appreciative of the backpacks. Cruz helped in the distribution of backpacks then joined the neighbors in doing the 'Cha-cha-slide' later in the afternoon. The DJ at the event was paid for by Councilwoman Davis.
"It seems to get bigger and bigger every year" Mayor Michael Venezia told the party goers. "Enjoy your pizza, and enjoy your backpacks for the new school year."
Councilwoman Nina Davis was chiefly responsible for making the event happen. Aside from putting out the call for backpack donations, she secured the permits that were needed to close the street for the for the event. She also had to coordinate with the teams of first responders for their appearances.
More than 150 backpacks were donated. Children received raffle tickets upon arriving at the park and were called up by number to chose from the wide array of backpacks. Council member Ted Gamble, who donated several backpacks to the event, thanked the residents of North 17th Street for welcoming the community to their block.
Residents from the neighborhood, including some without children, joined the fun and expressed their gratitude for helping the children and bringing the community together. During the cha-cha-slide, one resident pointed to the fire engine and told TAPinto Bloomfield "they're the best in the businesses." The truck was Group 1 Engine 2, the 'Pride of Watsessing.'
Councilwoman Davis also brought sidewalk chalk and bubbles for the party-goers. The pizza party portion of the afternooon was also funded by Davis.