Municipalities across the region will light up the night Tuesday in an effort to promote safer streets and more active neighborhoods.
“National Night Out brings people out to remember how old-time Absecon was when everyone knew their neighbor,” said police Lt. John DeRitis Jr., who coordinated that city’s event. “You get that sense of community.”
Absecon will host a demonstration from the county’s Emergency Response Team, a medevac landing and a forest fire water drop, in addition to children’s activities, DeRitis said. There also will be a touch-tank of sea creatures.
“It’s a lot of hard to work, but we get a lot of help,” he said, noting that he was able to recruit many different organizations together for his city’s event.
National Night Out started in 1984 as a way to help improve crime and drug prevention awareness and strengthen communities, according to the organization's website. Last year, more than 37 million people participated from more than 15,000 communities.
Atlantic City will host children’s activities and a K-9 demonstration at Center City Park more than a week after a shooting incident resulted in the city’s 12th homicide of the year and reports of an injured baby.
Middle Township, where two teenage girls were struck and killed by a car last week, will have a member of the Harlem Globetrotters on hand for its event at the Clarence Davies Sports Complex.
Vineland, meanwhile, will hold a fireworks display immediately after its National Night Out ends at 9 p.m.
Egg Harbor Township has seen its National Night Out grow steadily in recent years, said police Officer Michael Palmentieri, who organizes the township’s event at Tony Canale Park. Last year saw as many as 2,000 attendees, he said.
The event will include demonstrations from various law enforcement and emergency response teams, as well as carnival games. This year, he said, the Police Department will even be recruiting potential dispatchers at the event.
Palmentieri said it’s all in an effort to promote solidarity between neighborhoods in the expansive municipality.
“People get to talk about what’s going on in your neighborhood,” he said. “Lots of things are happening in the township, but everyone lives in their own little island. They don’t always know what’s going on in other areas of the town.”
In addition to the information tables available in Absecon and most other towns — Superior Court has even set up a table with information on landlord-tenant laws in Absecon — DeRitis said the event also helps build ties between neighbors and officials.
“It’s a great chance for the community to come out and get together,” he said. “They not only meet their neighbors, but they can meet city officials . . . and the Police Department and others on an informal basis.”
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