Hopewell Valley police departments prepare for National Night Out

National Night Out in Hopewell Valley on Aug. 1.

National Night Out is a night full of fun connecting both the Hopewell Valley community and the officers sworn to protect them through food, music, and activities.

The annual event brings with it a sense of community when it returns to the grounds of Stony Brook Elementary in Pennington starting at 6 p.m. on Aug. 1 for the national campaign’s 40th year.

“It is an outreach to the community to bring the community together and have community groups from around town and stores come out and have a night of fun with everyone,” said Detective Steven Ciosek, current Hopewell Township Policemen Benevolent Association (PBA) Local 342 president and lead organizer of National Night Out.

“We love doing this event, because we love giving back to the community.”

This is Ciosek’s first year managing the Hopewell Township National Night Out.

“In a good way it has been a lot,” he said. “I started working on this event back in late May trying to get everyone together to make sure the same people we had last year are available for this year.”

The local National Night Out will feature pony rides, a dunk tank – children and adults get a chance to dunk a police officer – the exploration of emergency service vehicles and fire trucks, face painting and a bouncy house.

“We are actually expanding,” Ciosek added. “We are up to 22 vendors.”

The video game trailer that includes games such as XBox and PlayStation – a big hit last year – will be back.

“The dunk tank is something a lot of kids enjoy and there usually is a long line there,” Ciosek said.

New activities this year will be jiu jitsu from Gracie Barra, of Lawrence Township, and a tennis center.

“The best part of National Night Out is living in the moment and looking around seeing everyone have fun from the kids to the parents,” Ciosek said.

“All the grinding, the back work and the scheduling of everyone is well worth it at the end when you stop and see people having fun with a smile on their face, laughing, playing with the games, and fire trucks.”

National Night Out was introduced nationally in 1984 and is an annual community building campaign that was created to make communities safer and build trust between communities and their police departments, according to the National Association of Town Watch.

This is the 40th year of the campaign, which had millions of people participate and attend across all 50 states. Local communities either hosted block parties, parades, and cookouts to celebrate the community event.

The National Association of Town Watch sponsors the annual nationwide event that is also celebrated in U.S. territories and on military bases worldwide with a goal to establish stronger relationships and camaraderie between officers and the communities they serve.

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