EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — The township’s Police Department has placed 12th in the nation for its National Night Out event, but instead of seeing it as a competition, they say it’s a time to get one-on-one time with the community they serve.
The annual free event takes place at Veteran’s Memorial Park, 2153 Ocean Heights Ave., with activities for all ages including games, inflatable obstacles, vendors and food trucks. At the heart of the event are the township’s Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services and Police Department with its motorcycle and bike patrol and K-9 Unit.
“It enhances the relationship between the Police Department and the community as a whole,” Deputy Chief Christopher Ruef said.
The township has submitted applications since 2003 to the National Association of Town Watch, the organization that issues the rankings every year in categories based on population. Dena Danz, of the township’s Municipal Alliance Committee, and April Stafford, a logistics clerk at the Police Department, are the coordinators of the event and are in charge of submitting a report before and after the event with photos and attendance information.
Last year’s event was the biggest yet, with the most attendees and vendors.
“They estimated over 7,000 (attendees),” Stafford said. “They knew, parkingwise, it was over 3,000 cars.”
More than 100 volunteers, from booster clubs, sports teams and public officials, contributed to the event.
“Anything that’s going to give back to our youth,” Danz said. “Because that’s what it’s all about, it’s keeping kids off drugs and alcohol, and community pride.”
In preparation for this year’s event, the group has set goals and is already deep into planning, which began the day after last year’s event, Stafford said.
“One of my goals for this year is to get more of the township offices involved,” Danz said, “get their faces out there.”
While the group of volunteers that puts on the event every year isn’t working for a national ranking, being recognized validates their dedication.
“It means we did a job well done,” Danz said.
This year, an official application for vendors and volunteers will be available on the township, police and recreation websites, as well as the township’s Facebook accounts. Until it’s available, volunteers may email Stafford directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.