PATERSON, NJ- No Memorial Day is complete without a festive backyard barbecue, and for the more than 1,500 guests that turned out at Roberto Clemente Park on Monday, 5th Ward Councilman Luis Velez’ version of the American tradition did not disappoint.

Throughout the afternoon children and adults alike danced along to music from local bands and DJs; took turns on an inflatable slide and in a bounce house; and enjoyed hamburgers, hot dogs and popcorn provided by the host.

For Velez the event was an opportunity to “bring Paterson together” and to put his brand of “true and real leadership” on display. Pausing the music for only a few minutes he introduced several dignitaries in attendance including Mayor-Elect Andre Sayegh, Councilwoman-Elect Dr. Lilisa Mimms, and Board of Education President Oshin Castillo.

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Referring to him as a colleague and a friend Sayegh took the microphone to congratulate Velez for putting the event together and for not only “earning his salary” but for “earning the respect of the people he serves.”

Velez, the incoming mayor said, “doesn’t just respond to his resident’s concerns, he responds with results.”

Speaking to TAPinto Paterson just prior to being called to the stage where Velez would present them with a check to help them cover the cost of their upcoming 8th grade prom two students from the New Roberto Clemente School said that the support shows them that the councilman cares.

Describing their own fundraising efforts, which have included hosting dress down days and bake sales, Jyckell and Jasmine, flanked by two teachers that spent their day off with their students, went on to say that seeing the work that Velez and others put in to improve Paterson “motivates” them and sets an example.”

With the speeches over the order was made to turn the music back up and to get back to the dancing.