SUMMIT — Hundreds of Summit residents and people from neighboring towns came to the Village Green on Tuesday, Aug. 1, to celebrate National Night Out, a community-based event that takes place the first Tuesday of August in thousands of communities across the United States.
Featuring a variety of state, federal and municipal level agencies, National Night Out provides a chance for community members to come together with law enforcement individuals.
Neighborhoods host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts, and other various community events, with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel and exhibits. The first National Night Out campaign was in 1984.
The Summit National Night Out event featured displays and demonstrations by the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. National Guard, Union County SWAT, NJ State Police and K-9 unit, along with Summit police, fire, EMS and Division of Public Works.
“Dunk for a Cause” offered attendees a chance to hit a ball on a target and dunk a policeman into a tank filled with water. Proceeds were donated to help a local family.
There were also several food trucks, including Pizza Vita; Puras Paletas, which offered natural gourmet ice pops; and Sweet Concessions,which featured funnel cake, fried Oreos, chicken and fries, and empanadas. And free hot dogs.
Children were having fun in the bounce houses, learning to use a fire hose, with police assistance, and watching a water balloon show.
The annual Blessing of the Badges took place to honor the police force and the Summer Youth Academy. The blessing was offered by the Rev. Ron Martin, who was a police officer for 30 years.
Laetitia Hubert, 12, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and received a round of applause from the audience.
Mayor Nora Radest further motivated the audience to applaud for the “hard work and sacrifices.”
Police Chief Steven Zagorski said, “National Night Out is an opportunity to engage with various police officers.” He encouraged Summit residents to share their thoughts and input with them. “It’s very important to us.”
The rock band Changing Lanes ended the evening with a concert.
“It’s really important for our first responders to have a night like this where they can connect with the community, fostering positive relationships,” said Amy Cairns, chief communications officer.
Radest added, “This is a wonderful event –a great way to thank and show the community what’s out there. The Blessing of the Badges honors folks who give up a lot of their time to serve us. It’s a lovely community.”
Gail Cronin, a resident of New Providence, said, “It’s a great event, seeing families out on a weeknight, coming together.”
Annette Dwyer, board chairperson of Shaping Summit Together, said, “It’s fantastic to see so many community members enjoy a night of awareness, to keep us safe and healthy.”
Anna Lopez, of Summit, said, “It’s wonderful for the family. Thanks to the (demonstration) stands for explaining what they do for the community.”
To learn more about National Night Out, visit: https://natw.org/
For more Summit community programs visit: https://www.summitcommunityprograms.com/.