National Night Out Returns to South Brunswick Aug. 7
Annual community outreach event combines National Night Out with the township's own Community Unity Day celebration at Rowland Park.
With an eye on fostering a relationship between the community and the South Brunswick Police Department, the annual National Night Out celebration will return next month.
Once again this year, the township will be combining National Night Out with the Charlene J. Austin Community Unity Day event, which gives dozens of township organizations the opportunity to share information on their services and programs, while displaying the healthy activities they provide to help prevent alcohol, tobacco and drug use.
“National Night Out celebrates the ongoing commitment of police departments, city governments, and grassroots organizers working together to make their communities better places to live," said South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond J. Hayducka in a previous interview.
Last year about 3,600 people attended the event at Rowland Park, which helped gain township police nationwide recognition for their efforts. South Brunswick's event ranked first in New Jersey and 5th overall in the nation for towns with a population of 15,000 to 49,999 in 2010. Last year, South Brunswick was ranked first in New Jersey and sixth nationally by the National Association of Town Watch for their community outreach efforts.
Once again as part of the celebration, police will be offering free hot dogs, chips, popcorn, soda and ice pops. There will also be plenty of games, music and displays by local first responders.
As part of the event, the alumni of the South Brunswick Citizens Police Academy will be on hand for their first official event to help raise awareness for community events and outreach programs.
"One of our goals is to help build a stronger community in South Brunswick and to help develop the relationship between the department and the community," said Kate Battle, President of the Citizen's Police Academy alumni. "We're also looking to help develop better communication for public safety."
The group of about 20 alumni are also trying to raise money and awareness for the Police Unity Tour and Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington DC. In addition, they are also putting together a scholarship in the name of former member and longtime South Brunswick resident, Tom Dardani, who passed away in April from cancer.
Dardani was one of the founders of the Skull Riders, a group of motorcycle enthusiasts who hold various fundraisers throughout the year to raise money for local sick children. As an active member of the community who worked to raise money for dozens of children in need, Battle said the alumni wanted to recognize the legacy of their fallen friend.
"He did so much for so many kids and people in this town. He was so selfless, even at the end when he died he wanted people to donate money to (9-year-old cancer victim) Brandon Dominguez," she said. "Tom put his own needs behind everybody else. It was important for him to have activities that were fun, but also raised money for sick kids. Tom died so young, so we'd like to continue his name by doing something for children in town."
The alumni group will be selling armbands to try and raise the $500 they'd like to provide for the Dardani scholarship.
Battle said National Night Out provides an ideal opportunity for the alumni group to introduce themselves to residents and to talk about the benefits they gained by passing through the Citizens Police Academy.
"It gave us a renewed sense of community and gave us more insight into the police department," she said. "You get to see officers as more than someone who pulls you over and to see that they're people. You see what they do and what they want to do. So this is our way of giving back to the officers that gave us their time."
The combined National Night Out celebration and the South Brunswick Municipal Alliance Against Substance Abuse's annual Charlene J. Austin Community Unity Day will be held on Aug. 7 at Rowland Park, located on Broadway Road near Rowland Road. The festivities will run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.