Bounce houses are part of the evening’s activities, as police departments in three local boroughs (Red Bank, Fair Haven, Little Silver) invite families to take part in the National Night Out initiative on Tuesday.
It began 32 years ago as a simple promotion in which police departments across the nation encouraged residents to keep their porch lights burning as a show of solidarity against crime. It evolved in many communities into a public-welcome event that mixed family-fun activities with a serious message of safe streets (and made a celebrity out of a trenchcoat-wearing dog named McGruff).
Here in the charged election-year atmosphere of 2016 — where statistical declines in violent crime are countered by news stories involving the horrifically high-profile deaths of police officers and civilians — the annual occurrence known as National Night Out takes on a newfound significance, as an opportunity for police departments, public officials and community members to meet and maintain the dialogue.
On the evening of Tuesday, August 2, both Red Bank and Fair Haven continue their now-traditional participation in the nationwide initiative — and this year, they’ll be joined by a third municipality on the greater Red Bank green: the bordering borough of Little Silver.
As Matt Peskin of the National Association of Town Watch has observed, numerous police departments across the nation have signed on to the National Night Out program for the first time this year, with the executive director of the nonprofit organization explaining recently to the Star Ledger, “You can sense that there is a different kind of energy with everything going on in the last month or so…ninety-nine percent of us are law abiding, so this is a great way for cities and towns to come out and say, ‘We support our local law enforcement.'”
Beginning at 5 p.m. at the Youth Center (located behind police headquarters), the Fair Haven program features the traditional array of complimentary food and beverages, prize drawings, entertaining demos, kid-friendly games and activities — and, for 2016, an Emergency Child ID program that’s available exclusively to Fair Haven residents. Sponsored by the Fair Haven Foundation, the program offers parents and guardians an opportunity to have child IDs created free of charge by the borough police; done on premises while families enjoy the dunk tank, bounce house, and other diversions sponsored by the local Fire and First Aid Departments, as well as local businesses and county agencies.
The recreational fields behind Borough Hall (between Prospect Avenue and Markham Place) serve as the setting for Little Silver’s Night Out, running between 5 and 9 p.m. Tuesday. Featured will be free food and beverages, DJ music, bounce house and games, along with educational displays on community crime prevention, a close-up look at emergency responder vehicles, and demonstrations by members of the borough Fire Department. For more information on the event, call (732)747-5900, ext. 222.
Beginning at 6 p.m. and continuing through 9 p.m. in the parking lot of Borough Hall (corner of Maple Avenue and Monmouth Street), the Red Bank event offers a free “while supplies last” cookout prepared by members of Red Bank PBA Local #39, plus face painting, music, games, giveaways, and more. A neighborhood walk will conclude with a tour of police headquarters, and there will be displays of equipment from the borough’s first responders.
A number of governmental, nonprofit and volunteer organizations from throughout the community will be on the scene with informational displays. The RBPD and staff of the Red Bank Public Library will also be offering interactive displays and activities, past examples of which have included a “drunk goggles” obstacle course, a radar baseball throw, and a child ID booth.
Local dignitaries serving as co-presenters of the Red Bank event include Senator Jennifer Beck, Mayor Pasquale Menna, and borough Police Chief Darren McConnell. More information on Red Bank’s Night Out can be had by calling (732)933-1591.