The towns of Union City and West New York celebrated the 25th Annual National Night Out Against Crime on Tuesday, bringing together citizens and police to demonstrate unity in the fight against crime.
Union City hosted live musical performances on New York Avenue, including guest appearances by Dora the Explorer, Spider-Man, Elmo, and Tigger. Free kids’ rides, balloons, and face painting were also part of the fun.
West New York hosted parties at five different locations, each with a disc jockey and barbeque.
Members of the police departments of both towns came out, as well as the mayors and other officials. Gov. Jon Corzine attended with State Sen. and Union City Mayor Brian Stack.
“It is a great event for the little kids,” said Richard Mattura, a resident of Union City, standing with his two grandsons. Mattura added that he volunteered at the food stand, serving free hot dogs and sodas with his wife Carmen.
Consuelo Lujan, a Union City resident, enjoyed cotton candy with her son, Brandon. She said, “It is nice for the children.”
In West New York, Mayor Silverio “Sal” Vega and the Board of Commissioners celebrated with seniors in the community.
“[The mayor] has made a point to put West New York pride back into West New York,” said Commissioner Gerald Lange Jr. “This is the first time we are this organized and had this many events.”
“We are here to show we are united,” said Vega. “We are very proud of our town, West New York.”
Vega planned to be at each event for at least one hour, according to Robert A. DiVincent, executive director of the West New York Housing Authority.
“He has one view,” said Commissioner Michele Fernandez Lopez about the mayor, “and that is to make West New York better.”
The event organizers also gave seniors large magnets listing the city’s important phone numbers.
West New York resident Ricardo Fernandez, attending one of the events with his wife, Josepha, said, “Everything is beautiful. We are very happy with the event.”
Richard Tedesco, president of the West New York Board of Education, said, “I am very happy to be here. I love to be with these seniors because I am a senior myself.”
Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ) and U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) also attended the event. “I think it is wonderful,” Lautenberg said. “When you see everyone happy, you see what New Jersey is really about.” He added that he was pleased so many people of different backgrounds could live together peacefully in New Jersey.
The National Night Out Against Crime is one of many events created by the National Association of Town Watch to raise awareness about crime and drug prevention in communities across the country.
They estimated that more than 35 million people in hundreds of towns participated in this annual event last year.
“When you see everyone happy, you see what New Jersey is really about.” – Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)