WEST ESSEX REGION, NJ — In an attempt to connect the local community with the first responders who serve it, Gelotti Ice Cream owner Michael Guerriero is organizing a “Caldwell Night Out” to accompany National Night Out, an event designed to strengthen neighborhoods through police-community partnerships.
Hoping to channel the same energy that the community experienced at this year’s Ice Cream Social, a long-running Caldwell tradition that attracted nearly 1000 people on July 4, Guerriero is co-hosting this year’s National Night Out in the Gelotti Caldwell parking lot on Aug. 2. From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., the event will also be held at Grover Cleveland Birthplace across the street, where candle-lit tours of the home and the new carriage house will be offered throughout the night.
Guerriero, who is the current vice president and future president of the Caldwell Merchants Association, is also sponsoring the same event in Fairfield and Montclair by giving out free ice cream and Italian ice to all first responders. In reference to national tragedies, Guerriero said that National Night Out could be more important this year than ever.
“We’re inviting the community to come down and reflect on the recent things that have happened across the country and try to build a relationship between the two groups by bringing everyone together for that day,” said Guerriero. “As a business owner, I can see attitudes changing with customers—and even among the merchants in town and among the people that we deal with every day—there’s just so much questioning of authority and so many negative comments and people picking fights with their own neighbors. We need our whole community to get together and if we invest in events like this, it’s going to attract more businesses to town.”
The goal of National Night Out is to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, to build support and participation in local anti-crime programs and to represent the kind of spirit, energy and determination that is helping to make many neighborhoods safer places to live. Communities throughout Essex County, including Caldwell, North Caldwell, Fairfield, Livingston, West Orange and more will participate on Aug. 2.
Caldwell Police Chief James Bongiorno said that Guerriero has been wonderful to work with and that the police department is excited to participate in this initiative in order to help strengthen the relationship between community and all first responders.
“We are so appreciative and grateful for all of the support we have received from everyone in the community and this is another example of the wonderful merchants we have in Caldwell that want to bring everyone together,” said Bongiorno. “An event like this is always important, but when you have the national issues right now that are so prominent the timing could not be better, as it will give us an opportunity to meet with everyone in a very relaxed atmosphere.”
The Fairfield National Night Out will include a candlelight vigil for the officers that were killed in the line of duty. Although all the food and activities will be free on Aug. 2, Fairfield Police Chief Anthony Manna said that the department would be accepting donations to benefit the families of both the Dallas and Baton Rouge officers.
“Last year, our first-ever National Night Out was so well received by both our officers and our citizens that we set out to try to make it even better this year,” said Manna. “Certainly, it has a greater meaning to all of us in the law-enforcement community given national events. We are all excited about it and are looking forward to the event.”
Additionally, the event is being held in conjunction with the grand opening of the new Fairfield Community Center in the Hollywood Avenue Park, which Manna said creates a unique opportunity for the entire community to be together with friends and neighbors and to meet the officers who police the community.
“In a final note, we could not even attempt to run this event if it were not for our many sponsors and the efforts of Sgt. Christopher Niemiec,” said Manna, who was echoed by Guerriero.
Clicke HERE to see how local communities have supported West Essex Area police in light of the recent national tragedies.