National Night Out is an annual event in which police and community members show they’re staying vigilant about crime. Some greet neighbors from their porches, and others attend community fairs. The night heightens crime and drug awareness and helps the community get to know the police better.
This year, 75 organizations participated in Hoboken’s event, including local businesses, non-profits, and law enforcements agencies that gave out information and freebies for kids, according to Sgt. Melissa Gigante, who has planned the event every year since 2009.
“I think this event is important because it allows the community to see us in a different light,” said Gigante. “It gives us an opportunity to give back.”
Families in attendance enjoyed bouncy castles, blow-up obstacle courses, face painting, a meet-and-greet with Princesses Elena and Moana, free food and beverages, opportunities to win prizes, and more.
“Right now is really fun. I really liked the face paint,” said Mikaela, 7, whose face was painted like a tiger. “I also got a mini donut rubber ducky!”
Athletic teams from Stevens taught kids lacrosse and handed out rubber ducks.
Steven’s Assistant Athletic Director Celine Cunningham said, “It’s great seeing our student athletes giving back and hosting fun tutorials.”
“In this day and age the outreach really shows how much they care.” – Kelly Gottlieb
The Police Department provided free car seat checks and installations, the Hoboken Fire Department gave a demonstration using the Jaws of Life on a red sedan, and the Stevens Police Department let children try on their tactical vests and helmets. Some kids let the prosecutor’s office fingerprint them so parents could have their prints on file.
“We really love this event,” said Stevens Police Captain Tom Maggi. “The kids really enjoy trying on our equipment…National Night Out gets everyone out and about, and we get to meet all facets of the community. It provides us with the opportunity to interact with the community in a different way under fun and happy circumstances.”
Austin Gottlieb, a three and a half year old Hoboken resident, tried on a vest and helmet. His mother Kelly Gottlieb said, “He loves to support the policemen. He always has to stop and get a high five whenever we see one or at least a wave. They are his favorite. In this day and age, the outreach really shows how much they care and it’s important for everyone to get to know them.”
Born-and-raised Hoboken resident Elizabeth Walker said she attends every year with her kids, who always get fingerprinted and enjoy the Red Bulls street team.
“I used to not like the cops, but the more you see them and get to know them, the more you realize they are just like everyone else,” said Walker. “They are just regular people. They are not all aggressive like some in other towns or in the media.”
“I want to thank the Hoboken Police Department for hosting this event. I know it’s a lot a lot of work,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “A big thank you to all the organizations here tonight. I appreciate everyone coming together as a community and that is what it’s all about.”
Marilyn Baer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.