SUMMIT, NJ - In what has become an annual celebration of the long-standing and strong relationship between the Hilltop City's residents and its law enforcement and public safety personnel and agencies, Summit held its annual 'National Night Out' on the Village Green.
Founded as the 'National Night Out Against Crime' in 1984 by the National Association of Town Watch, 'National Night Out' is an annual community-building campaign held on the first Tuesday in August and attended by millions of folks in thousands of communities across all 50 States, U.S. Territories and and Military Bases.
According to natw.org, the goal of the event is to promote police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live, enhancing the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community and providing an opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.
In brief welcoming remarks to the crowd, Summit Police Chief Robert Weck noted that Summit's 'National Night Out' has grown from Summit Police visits to local block parties, to the Department hosting the event at its headquarters, and now into what the event has become today.
That growth -- resulting in a full-scale festival involving myriad displays, demonstrations, live music and more -- serves as a metaphor for the development of the relationship between the Hilltop City's residents and its law enforcement agency.
"It is ultimately all about teamwork," said Weck as he thanked the community for its engagement and support.
After the remarks by Weck and Mayor Nora Radest, several of the event's sponsors were introduced, including Overlook Medical Center. The hospital's president, Alan Lieber, took to the microphone and spoke of the his organization's appreciation and admiration for Summit's Police Department, and thanked them for their efforts during last week's incident which caused a nearly two-hour lockdown of the Medical Center campus due to reports of a suspicious individual.
Next, the traditional 'Blessing of the Badges' was held, led by Rev. Sergeant Ronald Martin.
Kids of all ages spent the next several hours interacting with the various participating municipal, county, state, and federal-level agencies that were on hand and offering a a up-close and personal look, including Union County SWAT, NJ State Police, and K-9 along with Summit Police, Fire, EMS, and City of Summit Public Works.
A big splash was made at the Dunk-A-Cop Tank, where Chief Weck among those taking time cooling off for a cause. All proceeds benefited 12-year-old Summit resident Kylie, who is battling Cerebral Palsy-spastic quadriplegia, Periventicular Leukomalacia, seizure disorder and scoliosis.
The evening's soundtrack was provided by the band Element K and -- across the street in the Elm Street Parking Lot -- a crowd gathered to watch the ever-popular Chris Clark Bicycle Stunt Show. Free hot dogs were provided by the Summit Police Athletic League, and food trucks offered up additional menu choices and tasty treats.