JACKSON – National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live and that mission was clearly accomplished during its recent event.
The night provided an opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances, so that the first time you meet them isn’t when you get pulled over or if there’s an emergency.
There were food vendors, extrication demonstrations by Jackson firefighters, township Emergency Medical Service representatives greeting residents, and police providing child protective car seat information. There were also various organizations showcasing what they do ranging from the Rotary, Kiwanis, Elks, and Scouts, to religious groups and many more.
Jackson residents Cynthia Burke, Connor Egan, and their daughter Audrey Egan, 3, came out to the event with Connor’s stepbrother Travis Verillo, a former long-time resident of the township. The couple recently moved to Jackson and were enjoying their first National Night Out. “We moved here about a year ago from Central Jersey. I thought the Robbinsville Night Out was the only one but Travis called me and said the Jackson one was going on. This is great.”
“It is very nice,” Burke said. Audrey sported a police badge sticker and enjoyed some time on a fire truck and had a snow cone. “She even put out a fire,” her mother added.
Members of Jackson fire companies held a fire demonstration where children could safely shoot water at a fire as part of the event. “She also won an inflatable purple alien,” Burke added.
Jackson Police Captain John Convery, Support Services Division Commander was the chief coordinator of the event and couldn’t have been more pleased with how it went.
“This is my 15th year doing this and this is the best ever. Last year we missed it because of COVID and we had a nor’easter on the first Tuesday of August (when the event is held nationally) but this is the best weather we ever had,” Captain Convery said.
“This is a great crowd and we are moving hot dogs, moving water. We’re doing great. We have 25 of our officers here and countless first responders, firemen, first aiders so we are all over the place. We are all relieved to be outside and doing things again. It also shows that we are all approachable,” he said.
“We are all human beings especially with some of the things that have happened in the past year. It is our night to give back to everyone who supports us all year long and it is a chance to say thank you,” Captain Convery said.
Council President Andrew Kern joined Mayor Michael Reina and the rest of the council for the event sporting their Jackson polo shirts. Kern was also pleased with the large amount of people who came to the event. “We have a fantastic turnout. So many organizations came out and it really represents the community we have here in Jackson and it really shows everything that Jackson is about.”
“People are happy to have something to do outside and the weather is amazing. Everyone is having a nice time and there are a lot of families out tonight,” Kern said.
Kern pointed out the fire company dalmatians that adults and children were drawn to but the spotted pooches weren’t the only dogs that were present at the event.
Pippin, a terrier therapy dog was dressed for the occasion, sporting a mini police uniform. He was sitting comfortably beside Patty Stringer and Cyndy Allan who are members of the Jackson Baptist Church. All three were promoting the many programs of the church which include life groups/Bible studies, outreach, Griefshare, Divorcecare, vocal and bell choirs for both children and adults, a food pantry and other activities.
“Our mascot Pippin is a therapy dog and she goes to hospitals and she performs in the church around Groundhog Day,” Allan said.
Kiwanis members were busy serving up hotdogs and free ice cream to back up the PBA# 203’s hosting of the event.
The Moms Club of Jackson was among the many township-based groups seeking new members and providing information on what they do. They are also organizing a back pack project and have a book club, craft club, cooking club and organize playgroups. For details on their programs and how to join e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Candidates for the Jackson Board of Education distributed campaign materials and Republican gubernatorial hopeful, former State Assemblyman Jack Ciattrelli greeted residents during the event.
Rabbi Shmuel Naparstek was overseeing the Chabad of Jackson table which featured crafts and a wheel you can spin for prizes, as well as a unique special occasion.
“One of our neighbors had their Bar Mitzvah right here,” Rabbi Naparstek added.