Nearly 200 NJ cities will celebrate National Night on Tuesday

Since 1984, National Night Out has evolved from the initial hyperlocal concept of turning on a porch light, sitting outside for an hour and saluting passing police vehicles and fire trucks, to a community celebration of neighborhoods making acquaintance with their first responders. .

After a few years of decline due to COVID-19, the annual tradition is back for 2022 with 189 New Jersey municipalities signing up to participate Tuesday night, starting the last weekend before the event.

Matt Peskin, NNO National Project Coordinator, said the Garden State has been closely involved since that first national night 38 years ago, and more jurisdictions than ever are showing interest.

“There are a lot of new ones. The ones that are still there traditionally, every year I know them. There are a lot of cities that I don’t know,” Peskin said.

Part of the reason for the increased turnout could be a COVID rebound, according to Peskin, but he added that residents are in tune with their neighborhoods — and what’s happening outside their borders, too.

“People are seeing what’s happening in terms of crime, violence, across the country,” he said. “It’s hard to get up every morning and see this on the news, and most people respect the law and want to do something about it.”

national evening

NJ Municipalities Participating in National Night Out (Official Site)

While National Night Out isn’t necessarily directly focused on engaging with kids, Peskin said face painting, clowning, bouncy houses and similar activities are common in many cities.

The evening is now more like a block party or barbecue, and has become more interactive year after year, encouraging positive interactions with the children.

“Not a burglary, not a fire, not a medical emergency, but in a cool setting, whether it’s a festival or the block, and then the kids learn that officers, firefighters, EMS are your friends,” Peskin said.

Registration begins in February each year for the August event, but Peskin said smaller versions of National Night Out exist.

“All who participate are required to register. There is no registration fee,” he said. “But will there be any who will do it without being registered? Of course, but it’s just kind of an overflow.”

Peskin encourages communities going on their own to at least let their local police departments know, so they can stop and have the opportunity to get involved.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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