CRANFORD, NJ – Thousands of Cranford residents attended the Cranford Police Department’s National Night out on Monday, August 1, held outside the police station and fire department.

Spectators enjoyed an animal show, rides and hot dogs and ice cream. There was also a martial arts demonstration, a DJ and a rock-climbing wall. Both kids and parents climbed aboard Cranford’s vehicles, which included a fire truck, ambulance and mobile command center. Vehicles from the New Jersey Transit police were available as well.

“It’s wonderful,” Sergeant Ryan Greco of the CPD said. “We have a great turnout and everyone seems to be having a great time.”

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In addition to the festivities, a mobile blood drive center was available. The blood drive has been an integral part of Cranford’s National Night Out for nine years, thanks to a retired detective from the department.

“I think it [National Night Out] lets the community see police in a different light,” Greco said. “It gives the police officers a more human aspect.”

The National Night Out, which was developed by the National Association of Town Watch, aims to strengthen community-police ties and promote crime prevention. It is celebrated annually throughout the country.