To me, this is the best time of the year. It is a time when strangers smile at one another and say “Happy Hanukkah,” “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Kwanzaa” or “Happy Holidays.”

Come January, if you smile and say hello to a stranger, they will either think you’re weird or trying to get something from them. So take advantage of the next 10 days, put a smile on your face and relish in this wonderful holiday spirit. If only we could keep this up for the rest of the year, but, unfortunately, that’s asking too much

As noted last week, Atlantic City looks brighter and more welcoming than it has for a long time. It has also been noticed that more people throughout Atlantic County seem to have decorated their homes with beautiful lights and other attractions. Take a ride around the area and see the magnificent decorations that adorn the grounds and homes of the people. You have a feeling of wanting to stop and knock on the door of the folks to tell them their decorations are attractive.

Back to reality

The tragedies of Newtown, Conn., and the shootings in Atlantic City and Pleasantville are casting shadows on those of us who mourn for the children, their parents and their communities. Those of us who have been here for any number of years are shocked at what has transpired in too many cities around the nation.

How do we stop it? The professionals of law enforcement do not seem to be able to curtail the ongoing murders in the big cities and smaller towns.

Guns seem to be everywhere. In my younger days, when there was an issue between kids, we would get involved in fist fights. I remember when I was 13 or 14 years old, we were playing football on the beach against a team from a few blocks away. We got into an argument and they said, “OK, let’s have a fight.” They chose one of their team and my group chose me. I was tall but skinny, and the other fellow was a little bit heavier. We had hit one another but his punches were stronger than mine and I was knocked down. That was the end of it and then we finished the game.

Unfortunately, today if you’re wearing a color and do not belong to their gang or you look at one of their girls in a flirtatious manner, they come after you with a gun and think nothing of killing you.

Thankfully, this scenario is not played out everywhere, but it is true in too many areas. There is no question that many of these killings are drug-related. But I am sure you join me in wondering how anyone could wantonly kill 5- and 6-year-old children. It is beyond my belief that this could happen, but it has happened in the United States and I am sure in other nations around the world.

What is happening to the children of today? We played pickup games on streets and on the beach. Today’s children have uniforms, coaches, umpires or referees and play in nice surroundings. It is all organized.

When was the last time you saw kids playing in their neighborhood?. The girls would play hopscotch and jump rope. The guys would play all kinds of games, like Red Rover or Buck Buck, or they threw the ball up in the air trying to hit the wires.

Too many of our youngsters today are busy constantly texting one another, using their computers and killing the bad guys in the varied video games that they have. We used our initiative to entertain ourselves, and I believe that is one thing that is missing today. I know there will be those of you who say, “Pinky, times have changed.” I agree, they have. My question is, is it better today with all of these horrible crimes that are taking place?

I apologize for going from the joy of the holidays to the issues that bother so many of us today. Unfortunately, this is what is in my mind, and by writing it I hope some of you will be able to come up with ways that can help return our nation to what it was.

Cameras and speakers

Several years ago, I was invited by former Atlantic City Mayor Bob Levy to go on a trip to Wilmington, Del., to see the setup they have for cameras throughout the city to enhance safety. We entered a room with a dozen monitors where several people were operating them. We watched how they could read the numbers on a wristwatch of someone walking. We watched a drug transaction on a street corner and noted how police were notified and able to apprehend the culprits.

From that day until today, the Atlantic City Boardwalk Committee has been endeavoring to have cameras and speakers placed on the Boardwalk. We kept hearing stories about the lack of funding and that other items were more important. The cameras put at a street end would not only be able to look up and down the Boardwalk, but look down the street at least to Atlantic Avenue and be turned around to watch the beach scene.

The speakers, which are used in many other communities, can be used in a number of ways. They can let bike riders know when the time is up for them to get off the Boardwalk. They can help find the parents of children who are lost, and assist in many other ways.

On Tuesday, I implored the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority’s board of directors to make the purchase of cameras and speakers one of the top issues to be accomplished before summer. Cameras should also be placed within the community to help maintain the safety of the neighborhoods.

After what has happened in Newtown, Conn., and on the streets of Atlantic City this past week, it is imperative that cameras be placed throughout Atlantic City as soon as possible.

A Boardwalk 4D theater

The owners of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, at New York Avenue and the Boardwalk, have expressed interest in a new business in the city. It was stated that they are looking for another piece of property to house a 4D theater on the Boardwalk that would allow for 40 seats. They have a 10- to 12-minute 3D film that will provide customers with an unbelievable experience. The seats would move according to the action on the screen, and when there is a water scene patrons will feel some water hitting them. This would be an excellent new attraction for the Boardwalk. Hopefully they will find the location they seek in time for summer.

Pinky’s Corner appears every Thursday in The Press. The Pinky’s Corner radio show airs 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on WOND 1400-AM. His TV show, “WMGM Presents Pinky,” airs 7:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC TV40. Email Pinky at: pinky@pressofac.com.