LIVINGSTON, NJ — After the unexpected success of Livingston’s inaugural Diwali Fireworks celebration in 2018, Sanskriti of New Jersey is teaming up with the police and fire departments to iron out some safety and security details ahead of the 2019 event currently scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 27 at the Memorial Oval.
Known in India as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is held annually over the course of several days in the fall and is one of the most anticipated events of the year for Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and other groups.
For the first time last year, the Township of Livingston held its own celebration that attracted more attention than anyone ever expected. This year, Sonal Batra and Nilesh Mhartre from Sanskriti of New Jersey are working to ensure that the event goes off without a hitch.
“Last year really was a historic first, given that Diwali is such a huge celebration for the Indian community,” Batra said during a recent discussion with the township council. “For us to able to celebrate it living in Livingston, New Jersey, USA like we do back at home, it really meant a lot to the community. We heard such wonderful feedback and everyone was just so thrilled that the Township of Livingston would not only accept the Indian community, but really show inclusion by celebrating with us.”
Batra credited the members of the council for having “open minds, open hearts and wanting that kind of inclusivity within the community.”
“How you make this town just so inclusive and celebrate everything—it’s rare,” she said. “I don’t thing you find a lot of townships like that, so we appreciate it."
In speaking about the level of success achieved through last year’s event, however, Batra alerted the mayor and council to the communications between Sanskriti NJ and local first responders regarding crowd control for the upcoming event.
With safety as her top priority, Batra recently met with Police Captain John Drumm and Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Francione to discuss her concerns and how to address them.
Last week, she proposed some of those solutions to the mayor and council, which can be seen in the photos above.
Her proposal includes a highlighted area where parking will tentatively be offered as well as which roads will be closed during the time of the event. Also highlighted in the proposal is the softball field, where Sanskriti NJ hopes to set off the fireworks, and a detailed plan about how to keep the general public from getting too close to them.
“Last year, we tried to have a barrier of volunteers and we were expecting the general public not to cross that for safety purposes, but that didn’t happen,” said Batra, who noted that some people, including small children, were crossing into dangerous territory. “What we came up with […] is that we would have cones all around the perimeter of the softball field and we would have poles coming from the cones and caution tape all around so that you physically can’t cross it.”
In addition, Batra said the group hopes to invite members of Livingston’s auxiliary police—all of whom are volunteers and two of whom are Indian residents who might have a vested interest in the event—to attend for enhanced security.
“We also thought that if you see someone there in uniform and you have that visual it, it kind of deters you from actually doing something that you’re not supposed to,” she said. “So we’re hoping that actually having the physical presence there will keep people also from crossing the line and being a little bit more cautious.”
The mayor and council were impressed with the progress being made on the planning for the popular event and said they looked forward to attending.
Livingston’s Diwali Fireworks Celebration will be held on Oct. 27 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Oval. Guests are invited to bring lawn chairs and blankets, but no pets will be allowed at the event. Attendees can also bring sparklers.