‘A night where we bring the community together’

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Princeton holds its annual Community Night Out

Whether it was the sounds of laughter or joy on children’s faces, the community turned out for Princeton’s annual Community Night Out.

Children lined up to race each other through three large inflatable obstacle courses and dunked Princeton police officers in a dunk tank in the parking lot at the Community Park Pool and municipal complex on Witherspoon Street Aug. 1.

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Children climb one of the inflatable obstacle courses in the Community Pool parking lot on Witherspoon Street.

“We want a night where we bring the community together for a great time and some hot dogs,” said Princeton police Sgt. Daniel Federico, lead organizer of the event.

Princeton police, the Policemen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) Local 130 and the Recreation Department collaborated to organize the Community Night Out.

“It is very rewarding for us to see everyone come out here. Not just for the police department, but for the municipality and groups we have here,” Federico added.

It was a night where everybody came together for a fun night. Children climbed, slid down, navigated through the inflatable bounce house obstacle courses and competed with each other to see who would win.

“This is great and here in Princeton you feel a part of a community. It is nice to come out and talk to people and say hello to everyone,” said Kasia Bober, a Rocky Hill resident.

“It is really nice that the Recreation Department opens up the pool for kids whose parents can’t afford to come swimming when it is so hot out. It should happen more often.”

Adults and children explored the Princeton Fire Department Engine and fire department vehicles, a heavy rescue First Aid and Rescue Squad vehicle and a First Aid & Rescue Squad ambulance and its equipment on display.

Princeton Fire Department fire engine and equipment open for people to explore.

“It is my first time here and just having fun with the little guys. It is a beautiful thing to see everyone out here,” said Mike Klingler, a new Princeton resident. “I’ll plan on attending with the family every year.”

Throughout the evening the line grew as the youth took turns throwing a ball at a red target to dunk a Princeton Police officer in the dunk tank. Each time, shouting in joy when they hit the mark that sent officers into the water.

Tables lined the sidewalk for families to learn more about various local organizations, hands-on learning, and coloring for young children.

The tables included: the Princeton Engineering Department, Corner House, Princeton University Community & Regional Affairs, Womanspace, and Princeton Public Library.

“We missed Community Night Out last year and really wanted to come out this year. Residents came out in force to show support to community workers, public safety, and school district,” said Princeton resident Sri Geedipalli.

“This is a great bonding event for residents with all the folks who work here and help us out here in the community.”

Tables line the sidewalk during Community Night Out in Princeton on Aug. 1.
Princeton police officer falls into the dunk tank after child hits the mark at Dunk-A-Cop on Aug. 1.

Manning the grill were Princeton police officers. And on the menu were hotdogs, which they handed out to those attending the evening event.

“This is sort of the top of the mountain when you look at the work you do all year long to build community, to make people lives better, and to create opportunities for people, especially the youth and seniors,” Councilman Leighton Newlin said.

“When people come out on a night like this you see diversity, inclusivity, various ages, and its everything Princeton is all about.

“The infrastructure of any great municipality is the human infrastructure and that begins with the people who save lives and protect lives. That is emergency services, police and fire,” Newlin said. “When you see people out here acknowledging that and interacting with these people in their own way, they are saying ‘thank you.'”

Community Night Out is one of many events across the state and country that celebrated National Night Out, an annual community building campaign that was created to make communities safer and build trust between individual communities and their police departments.

The campaign was introduced nationwide in 1984. Millions participate and attend across the country through community parties, cookouts, or parades.

The National Association of Town Watch sponsors the annual nationwide event that is also celebrated in U.S. territories and on military bases worldwide.

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