Meet the neighbors

Residents enjoy annual ‘Night Out’ with rides, music, and more

“The National Night Out Against Crime is a chance for the city’s residents to take the streets back from being locked up or scared,” Union City Police Sgt. Rick Ocasio said last week. “There’s a lot of police presence and interaction so residents can be feel free of danger.”

Communities across the country host National Night Out events on one day each year so that the police and the public can interact and show they’re vigilant about crime. In Union City this past Tuesday, the city set up rides, games, and face painting for kids and invited police and EMS responders to visit and show off their equipment. The activities took place on Bergenline Avenue from 32nd Street to 42nd Street.

At the event, Captain Brian Wolpert said, “Last year the event was downtown, but it was changed for more opportunities like more rides. There [are] first responders, and an ambulance on 39th and 40th.”

Rudra Patel, 6, tried on a police helmet, kevlar vest, and a body shield, as did his siblings Vedi, 10, and Taksh, 4. This equipment is used by the tactical unit in case of emergencies.

“We went to the last one, but I saw a lot of my friends this time,” Rudra said about his friends from Jefferson Elementary School.

“We went on all the bouncy houses and slides,” said Vedi, who goes to Washington Elementary School. The three siblings came with their parents to have fun, they said, and they’ve lived in Union City for 15 years.

Next to the tactical station, residents sat on police motorcycles with helmets and took pictures. The nearby emergency responders answered all questions and listened to concerns, and afterwards handed out free gifts including magnets or pencils.

Vendors gave away free smoothie samples and made balloons for children. Residents enjoyed auto mechanic bull-riding, rock climbing, rides, and face painting. Live performers played on a stage all night long right at the entrance off of 32nd Street.

Officers handed out pencils, magnets, and key chains with their phone number and insignia on them. Some officers showed residents how police Segways (similar to hoverboards) work, and talked with residents about them.

Signs hung in the street with the motto “If you see something, say something,” a national campaign from the United States Department of Homeland Security to encourage people to report suspicious activity to law enforcement.

“People don’t have to be scared here tonight,” Ocasio said.


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