FAIRFIELD, NJ — After a serious thunderstorm hampered last year's National Night Out (NNO) event in Fairfield, organized by the Fairfield Police Department, the rain held off on Tuesday until right after the fireworks for the fifth annual NNO event.

“We are so happy that the weather held out,” said Fairfield Police Chief Anthony Manna. "The planning of the event takes a lot of time and effort, and we would hate to see it affected by the weather."

The Hollywood Avenue Park was packed with hundreds of people who came to enjoy the free food, carnival-style games, trackless train rides and much more.

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People stood in lines as they talked to friends, family and neighbors while waiting to dine on hamburgers, hot dogs, meatball sandwiches, pizza, Italian ice, popcorn, zeppoles and more. 

The air-conditioned recreation hall was set up with tables and chairs for those choosing to sit and relax, while others ate and walked around the park enjoying the outside events.

A former Fairfield student named David was dripping wet from accepting a dare to go under the water from the Fairfield fire truck. His friend Matthew, who goes to Churchill School, also was there to support his friend and participate in the NNO carnival games.

Julian Machin and Matthew Nadel, West Essex High School sophomores, said this was their first NNO, and they were looking forward to the free food and games. Naya, Sofia and Melissa, students at West Essex Middle School, said the food was good, and it was nice being together with friends. They were looking forward to the fireworks.

And Daniel, a seventh-grader at West Essex Middle School, was busy trying to ring the bell with a sledge hammer at the High Striker game.

Joe Cifelli came with his young son, Angelo. They were looking forward to a “nice night out.”

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. 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.”

In the spirit of the event, the Fairfield police officers and government officials wore special Hawaiian shirts, making them visible and accessible to the public. 

The NNO also gave residents an opportunity to become better acquainted with the Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department, West Essex First Aid Squad, Fairfield’s Municipal Alliance Committee, the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and others.

West Essex High School seniors Chris Lasusa and Dominick Torrioni, along with college-bound student Johnny Scrivo, manned the Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department’s table, giving out fire hats, key chains, stickers and more. The young volunteers were happy to be serving their community.

Councilman John LaForgia said, “By far this is the best event because our police department is the best in the state. We appreciate everything they do for us every day, and this event just shows us that they go over and above.”

Manna began the celebration by welcoming everyone to the event and thanking everyone who helped make NNO free. He also mentioned the selling of patches for the Police Unity Tour in support of police officers who have died. The tour’s motto is “We ride for those who died.” 

In the same spirit of giving, the police department, with the assistance of BCB Bank of Fairfield, has asked residents to donate a non-perishable food item for local food banks.

West Caldwell Police Officer Paul Mazzeo sang the National Anthem, and Sgt. Christoper Niemiec also thanked everyone for making this event possible.

Township Administrator Joseph Catenaro said, “There is nothing better than bringing people together to make a better community.”

At the event, the police department’s newly acquired motorcycle was on display for the community to see. Also the police department had a raffle for a Ring video doorbell.