SOMERVILLE, NJ – Parents stood in clusters in front of the Bounce House, talking about summer vacations, projects around the house and the opening of school next month.
Kids ran by, balloons trailing behind them; others munched on hot dogs while their friends licked their ice cream cones.
More than 500 people came out to the borough’s annual “Night Out” celebration on Tuesday night, Aug. 1, from 6-9 p.m. at Carol Pager Park on Green Street, between North Bridge Street and Davenport Street.
The concession stand ran out of hot dogs before the night was over, the supply of ice cream had to be replenished twice.
Several Somerville businesses pitched in to sponsor the event, which is observed throughout the nation, an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer, better places to live.
“The continuing success of Night Out is a testament to Somerville and our police department, their ability to communicate and reach out to everybody in Somerville, all residents of all ages it’s a great night, a lot of fun and a lot of laughs,” said Gallagher.
“There’s great interaction with everybody in the community,” Gallagher continued. “It’s a great opportunity for residents all over town to get together, meet the police officers, council members, to see what’s available in the recreation department, it’s just a wonderful evening.”
Blue Sheep Bake Shop donated the ice cream and dished out over 500 cups and cones; St. Paul’s Baptist Church donated over 600 hot dogs, while the ShopRite stores of Somerville and Flemington donated the soda, water and chips.
Leigh Mclachlan of McLachlan Realtors provided the red, white and blue ballons, and the 2017 Somerville Police Youth Academy Cadets, dressed in matching yellow academy t-shorts and “SPD” caps handed out gift bags courtesy of the borough Police Department.
Churches and community-based organizations hosted displays and handed out information, including United Reform Church, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, Middle Earth, the Somerville Municipal Alliance and Youth Commission and others.
The borough’s first responders were on hand to show off the their ambulances and fire trucks and educated kids and their parents on safety and their role in the community.
The borough’s elected officials – Mayor Brian Gallagher, Council President Steve Peter, and Council members Dennis Sullivan, Jane Kobuta. Thompson Mitchell and Granville Brady mixed with the crowd, shaking hands and fielding questions from borough residents.
Councilman Jason Kraska, dripping wet by the end of the night, spent his time in and out of the dunk tank.
Live entertainment was provided by the Somerville School of Martial Arts and Police Officer Vito “DJ” Spadea, who provided non-stop music and patter from 6-9 p.m.
Spadea welcomes the opportunity to nurture relationships between the community, the police department and other emergency services.
“Night Out is a way to get the community together with the police department, emergency personnel, fire and rescue; most of them don’t know who they are. This makes it more personal,” Spadea said.