WESTFIELD, NJ — Police and firefighters partnering with community members will be sweating for a common goal on Sunday: hoops at Windsor Park.

The first responders are slated to play basketball with youths during the 28th annual Unity Day Sunday. It is an event that organizers hope will draw a strong turnout for the games, barbeque, live music and back-to-school supply drive for youths in need.

Kevin “Spud” Monroe, a longtime Westfield resident and a founder of Unity Day, noted the event’s increasing popularity through the years.

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“It’s just getting bigger and bigger,” Monroe said. “It is something we never thought would get that big.”

And that is just the way organizers want it.

Antwan Clark has been heading up the end-of-summer event for the past six years, and he anticipates turnout this year will surpass that of prior years.’

“We’ll have a lot of activities for kids: four-square, hopscotch. There will be a whole section in the block for children to play on,” said Clark, of Westfield. “We’ll have free hotdogs and hamburgers – as much as we can provide.”

Clark took charge of the Unity Day, also referred to as the Unity Games, six years ago and has since seen its growth from a time when it was not as widely known.

“Us having a kid zone will be new this year,” Clark said. “Usually the kids just stick to the park.”

The Plainfield-based catering company Taco Mania will be on hand with a food truck, he said.

Organizers will both collect and distribute school supply donations for the back-to-school drive, providing surplus items to the Westfield Neighborhood Council for distribution among area youths, Clark said.

“I hope the story gets some more eyes, and we can get some more participation throughout the community,” Clark said.

Festivities happen noon – 8 p.m. with the first responder game set for 5 p.m. and a game among Westfield and Plainfield youths set for 6 p.m., Clark said.

Councilman David Contract, in whose ward the event takes place, had praise for the festivities.

“Unity Day is a wonderful annual event in Westfield and epitomizes what makes our town so special,” said Contract, who represents Westfield’s Third Ward. “I hope this year’s Unity Day is the best ever and filled with fun and joy for everyone who attends.”

Monroe, who hasn’t been shy about discussing neighborhood concerns with the Town Council, said he’s looking forward to having his elected officials in attendance Sunday.

“The town officials will be there this Sunday,” he said. “We got them.”

If you go

The 28th annual Unity Day runs noon – 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 1, at Windsor Park on Windsor Avenue. The first responder game starts at 5 p.m., organizers said. The neighborhood event is slated to include a back-to-school supply drive and basketball games.

Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh

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