ROXBURY, NJ – Residents of Port Morris had a little party on Tuesday to celebrate their historic hamlet, chat with each other, mingle with first-responders and welcome newcomers.
Although it wasn't officially part of the nationwide National Night Out effort, the Port Morris gathering took place on the proper day and had similar goals. And while thunderstorms prevented it from extending much into the night, the participants had a great time, said Main Street resident Laura Kemmerer.
“The neighbors of Port Morris all contributed to a potluck and we had a fabulous evening,” she said. “It’s nice to have everyone come together. We get to catch up and welcome new people as well.”
Kemmerer’s neighbor Kevin Abato spearheaded the event's organization. He’d thrown a block party about a week and a half earlier, had a good time and thought it would be fun to celebrate National Night Out too.
“So I put together a flyer,” Abato said.
Roxbury employees cleaned up Port Morris Park and the township loaned some extra tables. Local businesses chipped in with donations of food and other supplies.
Port Morris National Night Out used to be a regular event that involved the Roxbury Police Department, according to Kemmerer. “We had reached out to the police department as we always do since, in the past, chief (Jim) Simonetti always came with his officers,” Kemmerer said. “They would bring the police cars and do the D.A.R.E. program.”
Although there wasn’t official police department involvement this year, Roxbury Police Officer Nicole Sorgie “did stop by and everyone was happy for that,” Kemmerer said. “She came to our National Night Out years ago, so it was nice to see a friendly face from the police department,” she added.
Roxbury Fire and First Aid Company 2 was well represented at the event, showing up with two fire trucks and an ambulance and setting up a table for kids to do crafts. “It was so kind of them to come,” commented Kemmerer.
Local resident Scott Beale gave a talk on the history of Port Morris. Kemmerer said some of the village’s new residents “didn’t realize Port Morris holds so much history.”
Abato figures almost 100 people attended the get-together.
“It was really nice,” he said. “A lot of the people knew each other, but there were a lot of people we hadn’t met before. Everybody kind of mingled.”