Spotswood, Helmetta officers provide night out for residents

SPOTSWOOD – More than 90 residents partcipated in National Night Out festivities complete with fireworks, vendors and free food.

National Night Out is an annual event designed to strengthen neighborhoods through police-community partnerships. The Spotswood Police Department collaborated with the Helmetta Police Department on Aug. 1 at the Spotswood Municipal Building on Summerhill Road.

Children from both boroughs enjoyed a variety of activities including a bounce house, a dunk tank, face painting, balloon animals and obstacle courses. Free hot dogs, pretzels, cotton candy and soda were also provided.

Spotswood resident and vendor Vickie Pais provided rock painting at the event, where locals got the opportunity to paint and create their own unique rock and then leave them for others around town.

“I like painting rocks and I wanted to do something with my grandkids that they could do to spread kindness,” Pais said. “[E]verywhere I go I have rocks in my pocket, rocks in my pocketbook and in my car. It doesn’t matter where you live … whoever finds [a rock], we hope it puts a smile on their face.”

There was a dunk tank where children were able to dunk Chief of Police Michael Zarro, Mayor Edward Seely and other officers.

In a licensed medical unit, a registered nurse from Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick performed free health screenings for more than 20 people, according to Margaret Drozd, the director of Community Health Services for Saint Peter’s Hospital and Spotswood councilwoman.

“We have been coming here since they started doing these in Spotswood; it’s got to be over 10 years already. Not only are we here in Spotswood, but I have teams of nurses in New Brunswick and also in South Brunswick, so we are in multiple places tonight to represent Saint Peter’s and to bring health care out to the community because it’s just a good thing to do, to go to where people are hanging out and having fun,” Drozd said.

Attendees also got to try on D.U.I. awareness goggles and look inside various emergency services vehicles.

Representatives of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force, local businesses, local organizations and the Spotswood Public Library were also on hand to provide information to residents.

“This is my third one and I think it’s great. Each year, more and more people show up,” said Betty Lonegan, president of the Friends of the Spotswood Public Library.

This year the police department partnered with the Spotswood Drug and Alcohol Alliance.

Toward the end of the evening, visitors moved to the Spotswood High School parking lot to watch a fireworks show.

Contact Vashti Harris at

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