FAIRFIELD, NJ — Hollywood Avenue was buzzing on Tuesday night from the more than 1000 people who participated in the many activities at Fairfield’s third annual National Night Out (NNO) block party held by the Fairfield Police Department, along with many sponsors.
Attendees enjoyed a DJ, live music, free food, face painting, carnival games, a dunk tank, inflatables and many other events, including many giveaways.
The night gave residents an opportunity to become better acquainted with the Fairfield Police Department, Fairfield Fire Department, West Essex First Aid Squad, Fairfield Fire Prevention Bureau, the Community Emergency Response Team, the Fairfield Public Library and many local businesses.
Sgt. Christopher Niemiec of the Fairfield Police Department’s Community Service Unit and a police officer since 1999 organized the event. He said the night is about neighbors meeting neighbors, becoming familiar with Fairfield police officers, and meeting the people involved in other township organizations.
According to the NNO website, the event “is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer.” It also “enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community.”
“Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances,” the website states. “Millions of neighbors take part in National Night Out across thousands of communities from all fifty states, U.S. territories and military bases worldwide on the first Tuesday in August.”
Fairfield Police Officer Paul Cicchetti, who is a lifetime Fairfield resident, said that the event has been great all three years.
“We have a great turn out tonight,” he said. “It is great for the community.”
“How could you not like this,” said Jenn Bamber, who grew up in town and was attending the night with family and friends. “It is perfect out here! There’s good food and great people to enjoy it with.”
Teenagers Nicholas Stampone, Joey Matarazzo and Kiana Bronder said that the event was a great way for the town to get together, and that they saw someone they knew everywhere they went.
The event included free hot dogs, hamburgers, sausage and peppers, pizza, gelato, popcorn, Italian ices and beverages.
One of the new events this year was the “Magic and Mind Reading Talents of the Amazing Mark Calabrese.” He had the audience laughing and wondering how he was able to do his magic and mind reading throughout the evening.
Some of the other activities included mini hoops, a “throw the ball at the can” game, safe archery and a football toss.
The fire department also provided a ladder truck under-bucket spray that cooled off anyone brave enough to stand beneath it. Children and adults took a chance at this one, especially since it was a hot night.
Sharon MacGregor and Kim Castellano from Samaritan’s Purse Operation were on hand to explain November’s “Fill a Shoe Box,” where the Fairfield Police Department will be collecting shoeboxes filled with gifts for needy children around the world. For more information, contact Sharon McNamara at 973-276-3501, 973-464-9677 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A highlight of the evening was when the NJ State Police medevac helicopter landed at the park and allowed adults and children to get up close to see it. It flew over the trees in the park making its typical breeze with its blades and then landed on the grass field. As it landed, a youth named Alexander said, “This is cool. I am so excited to see it.”
The helicopter pilot said that the event is good for publicity and that it is an important free resource provided by the state.
“About $3 of every vehicle registration goes to the helicopter,” he said.
The helicopter costs about $14 million. It was explained that in the event of an emergency, an individual can be brought to the hospital at no cost to the resident. In some other states, he said, it can cost up to $20,000 for the service.
Last year, more than 37-million people in all 50 states, as well as U.S. territories, Canada and military bases worldwide, participated in this annual event.
National Night Out festivities are held nationwide and are meant to increase awareness about police anti-crime programs that are taking place in communities. This event promotes various crime prevention programs including: neighborhood watch groups; residential and business security surveys; and crime prevention tips.