The Cranbury Police Department’s National Night Out event is returning to Village Park after being canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
National Night Out is an event established in 1984 which brings together local police officers and the communities they serve. Cranbury Police Department officers, residents, families and municipal officials will gather together from 5-8 p.m. Aug. 3.
The event “gives our residents a chance to meet all of our officers. Sometimes they do not get to see the officers who work at night that much,” said Mike Cipriano, president of Cranbury PBA Local 405, which is one of the sponsors for the event.
“It gives people a chance to meet all of the officers in a friendlier environment. Residents come up and talk to us during National Night Out and it makes them feel more comfortable,” he said.
The 2021 National Night Out event in Cranbury will not be as big as 2019 evening event. Organizers said the scaled down version is designed to provide a safer outing.
The event will feature free food from Zinna’s Bistro and Chef Jason, music by DJ Reggie, and trucks from George’s Garage and Towing.
In 2019, Tony Alfano, the owner of George’s Garage and Towing, donated a truck for the event that lifted an American flag skyward in support of police and has participated in previous National Night Out events in Cranbury.
“This year, coming off of COVID-19, we are going to be a little limited and just being cautious instead of having a possible large gathering,” Cipriano said. “We are going to have some PBA handouts, free food and DJ Reggie.
“We are not having any bouncy houses this year because they (put people in) close quarters and with a lot of kids touching everything we did not think that was in the best interest” of attendees, Cipriano added.
Cranbury PBA Local 405, the police department and the township are co-sponsoring the event. Other Cranbury first responders will participate, such as the Cranbury Fire Department and Emergency Services.
“We are very excited to bring back National Night Out. It was disappointing the summer we had last year and people were afraid to come out and afraid of gatherings,” Cipriano said. “This is a great opportunity for Cranbury, not just the police department itself, because we already had our Cranbury fireworks, we will have our National Night Out and we will be having Cranbury Day.”
National Night Out was introduced nationally in 1984 and is an annual community building campaign to make communities safer, according to the National Association of Town Watch. This will be the 38th year of the campaign, which has been held in 400 towns in 23 states.
National Association of Town Watch sponsors the annual event that is also celebrated in U.S. territories and on military bases worldwide with a goal to establish stronger relationships between police officers and the communities they serve.
As a national nonprofit organization, National Association of Town Watch was created in 1981 prior to National Night Out’s introduction in 1984. The nonprofit came about through efforts from Matt Peskin out of Lower Merion Township, Pa.
According to the association, Peskin spent several years volunteering for the Lower Merion Community Watch program that worked with the Lower Merion Police Department.
Peskin noticed during his volunteering and with the creation of a newsletter that local neighboring groups did not have a shared platform to connect and no coordination.
National Association of Town Watch was founded several years later to provide community watch groups with the necessary information and resources.
The organization helped community watch groups to stay informed and involved in the community and would be supported by local police departments as the years went on, which allowed for National Night Out to debut in 1984.