Stony Brook Elementary School will once again be the location for National Night Out in Hopewell Valley.
The event from 6-8 p.m. will return to the school in Pennington on Aug. 3 after being canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
National Night Out is a national outing established in 1984 which brings together local police departments and the communities they serve.
“It is a great event each year we get to host. More than anything else it brings people together from the community and our department,” said Sgt. Joe Maccaquano, coordinator of the event. “I always see it as a good chance for the community and for us to put a face with a name and just have a personal relationship with the people that do go. It is great to see the family and kids having a good time.”
Hopewell Valley residents and families will gather with police officers while enjoying food, music and games. The Pennington Police Department is participating in 2021’s National Night Out alongside the Hopewell Township Police Department.
“First as far as food, they are going to have hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream and cotton candy. They will be music, a dunk tank as there is every year and we are going to add photo stations this year,” Maccaquano said. “There will be animals and potentially a pony for pony rides.”
Hopewell Township police officers serve Hopewell Township and Hopewell Borough.
Hopewell Township Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association Local 342 will be hosting the event.
“Hopewell Valley Emergency Services, fire departments and first aid will be there. The Department of Public Works will be there and tables for the Municipal Alliance, Recreation Department, Health Department and the PBA trailer,” Maccaquano said.
In 2019, the police department was joined by the Hopewell Valley Emergency Services, the Pennington Fire Company, the Pennington First Aid Squad, the Hopewell Fire Department, the Union Fire Company and Rescue Squad, the Department of Public Works and the Health Department.
At that time, the free event featured children playing in a bouncy house, yoga goats in a pen and attendees had the chance to dunk Hopewell Township police officers at a dunk tank.
“The only thing that may be scaled down this year is we are likely not going to have a bouncy house this year potentially due to COVID-19 concerns,” Maccaquano added.
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.