NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Recruits for the city's fire department helped serve up barbecued hamburgers and fried chicken at Pine Street Park.

Across town, at French Street Park, Mayor Jim Cahill stopped to shake hands and share a couple of laughs with residents.

At nearby Van Dyke Avenue, police officers passed out stickers and posed for photos while kids munched on hotdogs.

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Thousands of residents took to their local street corners and parks on Tuesday night to observe National Night Out.

The event has been bringing communities and the officials who serve and protect them together since its inception in 1984. Observed annually during the first Tuesday of August, thousands of communities across the country host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and much more.

If the goal Tuesday night at St. Mary's Apartments, the 116 Livingston Ave. Senior Apartments, Raritan Gardens and other places around the city was to enhance the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community, it seemed like mission accomplished.

"What's not to like," Cahill said. "The city is full of great people who are having a great time with great weather. I get to hang around with a bunch of city employees who come around. Nothing could be better."

Forming community bonds between residents and between residents and law enforcement was underscored by the recent tragic events in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas.

Twenty-two people were killed in an El Paso, Texas, Walmart. Patrick Crusius, has been charged with capital murder and is being held without bond, according to news reports. Nine others were killed Sunday when Connor Betts opened fire in a popular nightlife district in downtown Dayton, Ohio. Betts was killed by authorities. 

These communities are hundreds, if not thousands of miles away from New Brunswick. But they were in the thoughts of Hub City residents on a night where community bo

"The building of relationships between community and our uniformed personnel, our police and fire is always critically important. it's something that our police departments and our fire departments work on day in and day out and it pays dividends," Cahill said. "So when you see these national tragedies that happen, these types of things help to avoid those sorts of things, but you still have to be prepared."